On March 15, 1961, Jaguar once again excited everyone. This time the venue was the Geneva Exhibition, and the newly introduced car was the E-Type. Even though the success of the brand’s XK120 was undeniable, it was no match for the success of its new offspring.
61 years ago, in March 1961, a car was presented at the Geneva Motor Show, which, according to experts and the general public, became one of the best examples of automotive design. Moreover, 1961 was a “fruitful” year for events in the automotive world. That year, the Americans introduced their 4th generation Cadillac Deville and Eldorado. AC Cobra, French Renault 4, and Italian Maserati Sebring were also born then, and this was not a complete list of notable events of the 1961 model year. A special place on this list was occupied by the British Jaguar E-Type, whose 60th anniversary was celebrated in 2021.
The 1955 24 hours of Le Mans turned into the most tragic event in automotive history: 83 spectators died, including Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh. The winner of the race Jaguar’s management decided to curtail racing programs and develop road sports cars. Unfortunately, attempts to adapt La Mans’ winner D-Type to public roads did not bring a positive result. However, in 1961, the finest hour for the British automaker came. At the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, the newly introduced Jaguar E-Type won the hearts and minds of the public. This was a truly beautiful and stylish vehicle that impressed even Enzo Ferrari so, he bestowed his adoration, calling this British “sportsman” “the most beautiful automobile of all time”. The Jaguar E-Type was originally produced in two body styles: a closed coupe (FHC, Fixed Head Coupe) and an open roadster (OTS, Open Two Seater). It was a well-equipped vehicle for its time: a powerful engine, fully independent suspension, and disc brakes on all wheels. Besides, it looked spectacular! The automobile managed to have a surprisingly harmonious and at the same time completely original look. Also, it was very fast. In March 1961, The Motor reporters managed to reach a speed of 242 km/h on it. It was available only to the supercars like Ferrari or Aston Martin, which, in fact, were several times more expensive.
The spectacular-looking E-Type sold well, especially in the US, where 3/4 of the more than 70,000 produced cars went. Buyers, including many celebrities, forgave the E-Type’s cramped interior with poor ventilation, crazy oil consumption, jerky brakes, and gearbox, as well as the lack of reliability inherent in all Jaguar models. Under the hood of the 1961 release was a 3.8 or 4.2 liter 6-cylinder in-line engine with a capacity of up to 265 l/s at 5500 rpm, which allowed it to accelerate to 242 km/h. At the same time, fuel consumption was quite acceptable – an average of 10.7 liters per 100 km, but oil consumption was very high – from 200 to 800 ml per 100 km. Despite the rather impressive dimensions of the two-seater coupe, the length of which was about 4.5 meters, the driver and passenger felt a lack of space, which was a significant drawback for a Gran Turismo class car. Besides, the interior ventilation left much to be desired, and landing in a car of low height with such an arrangement of body pillars, for a person above average height, was quite difficult. One of the very unpleasant shortcomings of this model could also be attributed to the condensation of moisture in the light tunnels, which led to fogging of the transparent fairings and affected traffic safety. And yet, the vehicle was wildly popular, because of its stunning appearance, good handling, and reasonable price (starting from £2000). Also, it was equipped with disc brakes, which at that time was rare. Maybe those are the reasons the demand for the Jaguar E-Type exceeded production capabilities. However, those who chose the car not with their heart, but with their mind, preferred other cars of this time.
On March 15, 1961, one coupe was presented to journalists and VIPs at a private show in Geneva. The second presented car arrived in Geneva for the opening of the showroom. One of them was immediately sold to the French actor Jacques Charrier, Brigitte Bardot’s husband.
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