History of the Jaguar E-type (XKE)
The Jaguar E-Type, or the Jaguar XK-E for the North American market, is a British sports car that was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing established the model as an icon of the motoring world. The E-Type's claimed 150 mph (241 km/h) top speed, sub-7-second 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration, unitary construction, disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, and independent front and rear suspension distinguished the car and spurred industry-wide changes. The E-Type was based on Jaguar's D-Type racing car designed by William Heynes, which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three consecutive years beginning 1955, and employed what was, for the early 1960s, a novel racing design principle, with a front subframe carrying the engine, front suspension and front bodywork bolted directly to the body tub. No ladder frame chassis, as was common at the time, was needed and as such the first cars weighed only 1315 kg (2900 lb).
The E-Type was introduced as a rear-wheel drive grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as a two-seater convertible "roadster" (OTS or Open Two Seater). A "2+2" four-seater version of the coupé, with a lengthened wheelbase, was released in 1966. Later model updates of the E-Type were officially designated "Series 2" and "Series 3", and over time the earlier cars have come to be referred to as "Series 1."
The Series 1 cars essentially fall into two categories: Those made between 1961 and 1964, which had 3.8-litre engines and partial synchromesh transmissions, and those made between 1965–1967, which increased engine size and torque by around 10% to 4.2 litres, added a fully synchronised transmission, and also provided new reclining seats, an alternator in place of the dynamo, an electrical system switched to negative earth, a more reliable brake servo, and other modern amenities. Styling was unchanged.
Series 2 (1968–71)
The Series 2 introduced a number of design changes, largely due to U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration mandates. The most distinctive exterior feature is the absence of the glass headlight covers, which affected several other imported cars, like the Citroën DS, as well. Unlike other cars, this step was applied worldwide for the E-Type.
Other hallmarks of Series 2 cars are a wrap-around rear bumper, larger front indicators and tail lights re-positioned below the bumpers, and an enlarged grille and twin electric fans to aid cooling.
Additional U.S.-inspired changes included a steering lock which moved the ignition switch to the steering column, replacing the dashboard mounted ignition and push button starter, the symmetrical array of metal toggle switches replaced with plastic rockers, and a collapsible steering column to absorb impact in the event of an accident. New seats allowed the fitment of head restraints, as required by U.S. law beginning in 1969.
Series 3 (1971–75)
The E-Type Series 3 was introduced in 1971, with a new 5.3 L Jaguar V12 engine, uprated brakes and standard power steering. Optionally an automatic transmission, wire wheels and air conditioning were available. The LeMans-proven V12 was equipped with four Zenith carburettors, and as introduced produced a claimed 203 kW (272 hp), more torque, and a 0-60 mph acceleration of less than seven seconds. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued, with the Series 3 available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé.
The newly used longer wheelbase now offered significantly more room in all directions. The Series 3 is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches, wider tyres, four exhaust tips and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12.
Cars for the US market were fitted with large projecting rubber bumper over-riders (in 1973 these were on front, in 1974 both front and rear) to meet local 5 mph (8 km/h) impact regulations, but those on European models were considerably smaller. US models also have side indicator repeats on the front wings.