Is the Jaguar E-Type the most overhyped car Britain built?

by Andrew English and David Lillywhite
15 March 2021 7 min read
Is the Jaguar E-Type the most overhyped car Britain built?
Photo: RM Sotheby's

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-type, which was revealed to the media on the 15 March, 1961, Hagerty asks two writers to debate the place of the E-Type in our national psyche. And for further reading, we remember the last-minute change of plan ahead of its debut at the Geneva motor show. Also find out how Jaguar Classic will build you a bespoke Series 1; or take a moment to study the latest Hagerty analysis of E-Type values.

Andrew English – “Its deficiencies have been forgotten”

Andrew English has been writing about cars for more than three decades. He is a European Car of the Year judge, motoring correspondent for The Telegraph, and has contributed to dozens of other publications.

While the E-Type is a remarkable machine, somehow its audacious parts don’t add up to a stupefying whole. When you actually see an entire E-Type, it’s almost too much, as if you’re watching a magic show, but can see how all the tricks are done. Malcolm Sayer wasn’t a designer; he was an aerodynamicist. He saw the E-Type as a wind-cheating mathematical puzzle, a solid object moving through space; I think his solution looks like a beached submarine.  

They say there’s no bad angle on the E-Type, but think of those skinny Dunlop RS5s barely filling the wheel arches of the first drophead test car, 77 RW; it looks so out of proportion. By the time of the Series 3 models with their blousy V12s and slushboxes, the E-Type looked like one of Bertie Wooster’s aunts: overweight and over adorned.  

And did Enzo Ferrari really say the E-Type was “the most beautiful car ever made”? Did he really? In 35 years of motoring journalism, I’ve never found anyone who even danced with the man, who knew someone, who had heard him say it.  

But then I’ve never really understood the appeal of this big cat, although I seem to be on my own. Even back at its 1961 launch, 60 years ago today, journalists waxed lyrical. And over subsequent years there’s been nothing but eulogy and panegyric for a car produced in such small numbers over such a short period – 72,518 in 15 years.  

1966 Jaguar E-Type 4.2
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

Wildly overhyped or deserving praise? While acknowledging the technical merit and wind-cheating properties of the E-Type (although it suffers lift at speed and is susceptible to cross winds), I tend toward the former. E-Type has become a parody of itself; the long-bonneted, blood-red sportscar, which spoof super-agent Austin Powers calls the ‘Shaguar’.  

John Langley, my predecessor at The Daily Telegraph, was one of the very first journalists to test the E-Type. It was one of his first tests for the newspaper and he took it up to 149mph on the M1, what a day that must have been, especially on those Dunlops. He was a shrewd judge of cars and while the Jaguar impressed him, he wasn’t totally blown away, pointing out some of the faults and writing that: “in years to come I am sure the deficiencies will be forgotten.”  

Well, they have been, John. They’ve been expunged, cut out of history like Leon Trotsky from a picture of the Russian politburo. Those awful, uncomfortable seats, the terrible ventilation and the heat soak of the transmission tunnel, made it far from a luxurious grand tourer. The wide sills might have given some body stiffness (though E-Types still flexed) but made access and egress as ungainly as hedgehogs having sex.  

And what doesn’t come across in those early road tests, either, is just how cramped it was. Norman Dewis, Jaguar’s chief test driver, was tiny, Charles Bulmer, the editor of Motor magazine was far from lofty and Langley wasn’t any giant, either. I knew all three and they all looked astonished when I pointed out that they had failed to point out back then that if you are near six-foot tall, you’ll be driving an E-Type by looking over the windscreen. What’s more the pedal box was tiny, so even if you wanted to help the dreadful Moss four-speed change a little by double-declutching, your ankle would be twisted up like an egg whisk in no time.  

1966 Jaguar E-Type 4.2
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

Yet on the outside it was so big. It’s scarcely credible that the E-Type came out of a search for a new small Jaguar sports car back in the late Fifties. Even the 1.3-ton Series 1 was 4.5 metres long, 1.7m wide. Triumph’s diminutive GT6 coupé (3.7 metres long and 1.45 metre wide) was nicknamed the poor-man’s E-Type, but I wonder whether the E-Type shouldn’t have been known as the fat-man’s GT6.  

The low price was stunning of course. Motor magazine’s test drophead E-Type (77 RW) was £2097 including purchase tax, which for a car capable of 0-60mph in 7.1sec and a whisker under 150mph (though Jaguar probably cheated on those early cars) was sensational, but as Stirling Moss once observed: “that made it great value, but not necessarily a great car”.  

And even if it was staggeringly good value back then, it isn’t now. With financial websites grandly pontificating on the investment value of an E-Type (or XKE as it was in the States), you know two things; first, that ship left port years ago and second, do you really want to own a car that hedge fund managers think is the cat’s pyjamas?  

The E-Type might have been cool in the Sixties, but not as cool as the fashionable folk who drove them: George Harrison; Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas; Britt Ekland; Simon Dee; George Best; even Tony Blackburn. E-Type was then and still is, a show off’s car, inviting stares and comment. Personally, I prefer to tread a bit lighter than that. An E-Type isn’t the secret of eternal youth as one leading journalist once suggested, and those who think it is are just a wee bit sad.  

David Lillywhite – “Always better than I’ve remembered”

David Lillywhite has been writing about classic cars since 1992, contributing to titles such as Practical Classics and Classic cars. He was one of the founders of Octane magazine and is now Editorial Director at Magneto magazine.

Does it matter whether Enzo Ferrari ever said the E-Type was the most beautiful car ever made? What matters, surely, is what Enzo did after setting eyes on it, and I’d wager he would have stomped back to his engineers to give them a hard time about it. After all, in 1961 Ferraris were still leaf-sprung at the rear and hadn’t long moved on from a transverse leaf spring set-up at the front. And they were hardly lightweights on their hefty ladder chassis.  

From Jaguar, here was a car at a fraction of the cost of a Ferrari or Aston, able to give the now-revered 250 GTO a run for its not inconsiderable lire on the track. Was it really capable of the 150mph that its legend was built around? In 1961 Autocar took the first production E-type coupé, 9600HP, to Belgium to try it, and just about topped 150mph. Was the car standard? Not entirely. It wore racing tyres, with the number plate painted onto the bonnet and the central grille bar and overriders removed, all to reduce drag and improve cooling. And as the press car, even if the engine was stock specification, it would almost certainly have been carefully blueprinted and set-up with extra care.  

1966 Jaguar E-Type 4.2
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

This has always intrigued car enthusiasts, so 20 years ago writer Andrew Frankel tried for 150mph in 9600HP on the bowl at Millbrook. On the first attempt the engine blew. Unfazed, owner Philip Porter had the engine rebuilt for a second attempt, enabling Andrew to achieve 147mph, which is roughly equivalent to 150mph on the flat considering the extra forces that a banked track exerts on a car.   

It’s impressive though isn’t it? A 1961 sports GT capable of topping 140mph without taking off, veering from side to side or disintegrating. 

When I drive a Mk2 Jaguar I’m usually a little disappointed, mostly at the ride and the slow steering. When I drive an original Mini in traffic, I usually feel rather vulnerable. When I drive an Aston DB5 I wince at the weightiness of the controls. When I drive a Ferrari 250 the harsh ride occasionally intrudes on the thrill of the experience. And when I drive an E-Type, I always expect to be similarly let down in some small way, because here is a car that promises so much. And yet every single time I find that an E-Type is better than I’ve remembered.  

They feel remarkably modern for the time. The steering is a revelation compared with those of its contemporaries lumbered with a steering box rather than rack and pinion. There’s no slack, no need to heave at the steering wheel to park it. An E-Type goes where you point it with more precision than any of its rivals.  

The ride, too, is so much better than other cars of an even vaguely sporting nature of the era. That independent rear suspension cushions the blows, just as it continued to do in the similarly-equipped luxury saloons that followed. And the engine? Oh, the engine! Sure, it’s not a magical Maranello V12, but any straight-six engine is inherently smooth and the E-Type’s XK unit is a delight. If that’s not enough, well there’s always the V12-engined Series 3 E-Type. It may not qualify as a sports car but does make for a great GT. 

1966 Jaguar E-Type 4.2
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

If I stand up tall I qualify as a skinny six-footer, and that does mean that those early flat-floor Series 1s are uncomfortable on long journeys, to say the least, and my head sticks up too high in a Roadster – though that’s so often made worse by over-stuffed seats in older restorations. Nowadays, restorers acknowledge the problem and do all they can to lower the occupants in their seats. Anyway, I prefer coupés.  

In the same way, it’s still perfectly acceptable to tweak the mechanical shortcomings of the E-Type. Look how revered Eagle is for doing just that. It makes no sense, for example, that Jaguar never changed the steering geometry when it swapped from crossply to radial tyres, but it does mean that there’s considerable advantage to be had with simple upgrades. From geometry tweaks and uprated brakes to full air conditioning systems, there’s almost no limit to what you can do. Still, I reckon that the best-driving E-Types come from Eagle, and Eagle sticks with the XK engine and usually keeps it on carburettors rather than modern fuel injection. Not everything has to be messed with.  

I’ve not mentioned how the E-Type looks have I? Well that’s entirely subjective, and I’m willing to accept that the narrow track of the early cars is a little odd – but actually I find that appealing, like a slightly crooked nose or snaggle tooth on an otherwise beautiful face. Who needs absolute perfection anyway?  

You read their arguments – whose side are you on? Keep the debate going and have your say in the comments, below.

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  • James Cameron says:

    I’ve accepted the theory for years that they are ‘the most beautiful cars’ without actually arriving at that conclusion independently, now I think about it. The drop tank chic of inboard wheels works at Bonneville, but isn’t my ideal.

  • Tony Brown says:

    Well, those of us old enough to remember the launch will remember wondering if the car had been transported from another planet. It was just so – gorgeous. I’ve owned my 1961 roadster for nearly 40 years, and the sheer “driveability” of the car is legendary. Sure, the Moss box is antiquated, but few people mention that you hardly ever need to change down once in motion. I have won so many bets starting the car, putting it in 4th, slipping the clutch up to 12 mph, and driving away to the magic ton without a judder. The sheer flexibility of the XK engine defies any other car of a similar age to better it. They can’t. I’ve criss-crossed Europe, done 1,000 miles in one day, covered over 100,000 miles in the car, and I have only broken down twice where I was unable to continue, and that was the dynamo commutator. But a phone call and next morning a new one arrived on overnight delivery. Frankly, a modern car is less reliable than an E-type. The value? Who cares. It’s halved since 2017 but it wasn’t for sale then and isn’t now. And when I read this article, and find that it was written who admits to watching hedgehogs having sex, I know that there is someone who cannot quantify nor judge the good things in life.

  • Will Humiston says:

    Very well put. Thank you. This story started out on such negitivity that I quickly concluded you either like these cars or you don’t. Plus this gentleman has no practical experience with this car or appreciation for technology of the early 1960’s. It is a generational thing, I Guess.

  • Roger Hocking says:

    The E Type was released when I was a schoolboy and it immediately grabbed my attention and instigated my interest in Jaguar cars, history and eventually ownership (I’m on my 7th and still have my first – an E Type). No other car has done that to me. Overhyped? Not for me.

  • Richard Hawksworth says:

    What does ‘overhyped’ even mean? This word was not in the vernacular sixty years ago and all I can see this article doing is adding to the pile of piffle about the e-type. The bottom line is it’s how you feel when you are driving one and simply, bar the odd exercise performed without clothes, there is no feeling like it. And people smile and give you the thumbs up – that doesn’t happen in any other car or during the naked moments.

  • Frank says:

    I think it has all been said ! Let’s just say it is the best Jaguar produced

  • Malcolm Brown says:

    I find the windscreen too vertical and the early tyres too narrow. Otherwise it’s certainly a good looking car. I’ve never driven one so can’t comment on that!
    Value for money these days I’m glad I’ve got my TR4A. The value means it’s much less of a panic putting it in a car park!

  • vince Tarling says:

    No one, I mean no one, gets it just perfect at the first time, a cat always gets “sorted” as it ages, the Etype is no different, yes the wheel track was narrow and it had skinny tyres, it was a bit cramped, it may have got a bit light on the front at very high speed, but so what, it was still bloody brilliant.
    In time it got better like all good things, this takes a little time, people say the series 3 is too heavy, has lost its way, maybe ! maybe not, what is sure though is that it stayed a beautiful car until its demise. Drive a sorted V12 manual Etype and you get a thrill from it, its fast even now, handles well, sounds amazing and looks gorges, I know, I own one.

  • James Flourentzou says:

    At last someone who has questioned if Enzo ever really muttered those words! Yes it’s a lovely car but not from all angles especially from the front and back that show empty wheel arches as though you’ve got ‘get you home’ spare wheels in each one on pre series 3 cars. I like E’s and the article is spot on.

  • Marco Makaus says:

    No car is perfect, yet thousand of enthusiasts can’t be wrong.
    The early cars shortcomings were addressed with the later versions, and that’s why the Series One 4.2 is the best.
    Mr. Ferrari did say that, and I can send you the evidence if you care to publish it.
    Sure, he did not mean to publicise Jaguar, but it was one of his typical ways to play the modest man, knowing full well he was not. He was playing with his friend Gino Rancati, one of Italy’s leading journalists, during the preparation of his 1977 book “Ferrari, lui”.

  • Paul Compton says:

    The critical thing to appreciate is that when the E-type was designed Jaguar thought they would only make a few hundred examples, so they built it around the chief test driver who was only five foot four. That is why if one is of normal height one’s head is above the windscreen. It is hopeless, but people refuse to believe it. Against my advice a friend bought a very expensive Series 1, and after a few years of ‘its a bit tight’ he is now selling it because ‘can’t get in it’. The Series 3 has a much better engine, lots of other features and can be sat in comfortably, yet it is maligned and under valued. Unless you are 5 foot eight or under the Series 3 is for you, and as the founder of Eagle said to me – the ultimate supercar.

  • Brian James Martin says:

    I agree with both camps. I worked on the design and build of all of the E Types at Jaguar, Series 1, E1A, E2A and the lightweights, they all have their faults. After retirement from Jaguar I worked for several years as a volunteer at JDHT. I drove 77RW regularly, several times with my old friend Norman sitting along side me. We dicussed the merits of the car on a regular basis and both agreed that mechanically, it was no improvement on its sire, the ultimate Jaguar sports car, the XK 150s. Even the much vaunted independant rear suspension of the E Type made little difference to the handling compared to a well driven XK. The last time that I drove 77 RW was some years ago, after one of her re-builds. My thoughts were still the same, the bonnet over long and vulnerable, its ability to lift at speed disconcerting, the original seats uncomfortable, the ventilation dire, the clutch heavy and the pedal awkward to operate, the early brakes at speed downright dangerous, the old Moss gearbox, that had seen service for so many years, almost impossible to handle effectively. Entering and leaving the car almost an art form. On the plus side was the looks, it was travelling fast even at rest, the shape so slippery.and sexy, the view over the long bonnet has been described as a phalic extensiojn of the driver. the magnificently simple XK engine so torqey. Then you have to consider the price, nothing and I mean nothing, compared with the EType in value for money and what your hard earned cash bought. The car has been over hyped, but ther is a timeless quality to Malcolm Sayers design that will never be out dated. Over the years, I have owned most of Jaguar`s models, both saloon and sports, never an E Type and never the desire for an E Type I have partnered an old friend of nine for thousands of continental miles in his series 1 FHC and I remember the hot stuffy cabin and tha back ache inducing seats, but every time we stopped, a small adoring crowd would gather and that to me is its secret, sheer looks and glamour for the price of a family saloon, why would you not want to own one, unless of course you had owned and driven an XK 150S roadster.

  • Mr B.B.Payne says:

    Yes, the E type is a very good car but not much use if you are over 6ft tall, I was in the garage trade yrs ago and after working on any E type I had to get another mechanic to road test it. a good car but not perfect, a 2.4 was far better if you were going a long distance.
    A car that is very much overated is the MG, a Sunbeam Alpine is by far superior in every way, build quality and reliability etc.

  • Andrew Komosa says:

    As an owner of a 67 S1 coupe and 68 S2 roadster, you know which camp I am in. You cannot call me biased either, because my others call include a 66 911, 65 GT40 and 72 Europa TC. The E-Type is the car I would keep if everything had to go. apart from the Europa. would you believe! Good to debate, but I’m afraid my namesake is talking rot! Regards to all. Andrew

  • Tom Powell says:

    My wife once persuaded me, against my better judgement at the time, if I’m being honest, to buy a Series 3 Roadster. It was primrose yellow, manual, with a steel hardtop covered in black vinyl and, OH….What a car!! I absolutely loved everything about it, the silky smooth V12, the beautifully flared arches filled with the nice, wide chrome wheels ( steel rather than wires but much more suited to the car, I think). Agreed, more of a grand tourer than a sports car, although it could have its moments dashing round our local lanes.

    My wife loved driving the E Type but refuses to drive my Ferrari 308 GTB and, in a way, I can understand why. The 308 is HARD work whereas the E was a piece of cake.

    Wish I still had it now………..

  • Geoff Gammon says:

    First thing I wish to know is, what is Andrew English’s favourite car is? What really floats his boat? Bearing in mind, it needs to be a car of the same time frame, so comparisons are right for the period. I have owned Series 1 and all models in-between, my opinion is the same as Norman Dewis, “the Series 3 with the V12 is the best E Type Jaguar produced!” It is good that we do not all like the same thing! I do find it shameful though, that Jaguar claim to build limited numbers of Jaguar icons, such as the Light-weight E Types, XKSS and now E Type. It could be anyone, it might as well have the name “Airfix” above the door. Everything out-sourced and simply assembled by them. I am no car snob, whatever Classic car one owns, we are just custodians of wonderful things that will be around for many years. To answer the question, is the E Type an icon? I cannot think of a better car that is instantly recognised by such a large number of the general public, who have little or no knowledge of Classic cars. Definately an icon and for all the right reasons!

  • Richard Storey says:

    Andrew English is an educated, capable journalist who’s negative opinion relating to this car is in a very small minority whose blindness results in not being able to appreciate the colossal, timeless beauty of this iconic car

  • Clive Cooper says:

    I remember my Series 2 4.2 with great fondness. The looks, performance, a trip to Spain. Although at two years the rust starting.
    Wanted a Series 3. It never came.

  • Jonathan Stafford-Clark says:

    My brother owned a 1963 Series 1 3.8 litre E Type coupe in the lovely combination of opalescent silver blue with dark blue leather, in the late 1960’s and early 70’s.
    I remember driving it from Edinburgh to London overnight in 1970 for him to pick up at Heathrow, returning from a trip to New York.
    It was winter and the weather was damp and cold. I was used to driving reasonably high performance cars, I had owned a Jaguar Mk2 3.4 saloon, Mini Cooper S and at the time I had a UK spec, fuel injected Triumph TR5.
    Even so, I was impressed with the torque, smoothness and sheer power of the E type engine. It felt so much more powerful than I remembered from my days of Mk2 ownership.
    Sadly, that was the high point. The Moss gearbox was truly horrible in a car with sporting aspiration; the ride from the independent rear suspension was comfortable and handling was good in dry conditions but the slightest damp patch in a corner would induce tail out oversteer at speeds that the TR5 would effortlessly cope with. It was easily correctable with a little opposite lock and a quick push on the accelerator pedal but for a relatively heavy car on skinny tyres it didn’t inspire much confidence. The cabin was cramped and always too hot, regardless of outside temperature.
    With modern upgrades, as offered by companies like Eagle I am sure the E type today is a fine machine to own and drive.
    Undoubtably the early Series 1 and 1.5 cars, especially the coupes, are beautiful to behold whether or not the Ferrari quote is apocryphal. However in the day and in standard form my recollection is that they were not a perfect sports car.

  • Michael B says:

    Andrew your tone is unnecessary. The Jury has been out for a long-long time on the E-Type, and nothing about it, or the way that it makes anyone feel is at all sad. No matter how you wax on so eloquently it will not change the fact that the E-Type is special to far too many.

    When an auction has one to sell it is always center stage. When a tour has one in attendance it will simply be all the rage. Top ten adored cars of all time? The E-Type is always on the first page.

    I have no idea why you strike out on the E-Type but I believe that the 60 years of strength of this icon far outweighs that one point of view.

  • Jeffrey Bridges says:

    Like all cars it has its good and not so good points and it is clearly hugely loved, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Jaguars are not for me – a Wolseley man through and through.

  • John Harris says:

    In the early sixties a member of our rugby club spent his first years earnings in practice (Dentistry) on an early series 1 roadster. It wasn’t too long before he began to realise he had bought a pig in a poke. Various niggling faults developed requiring it to spend time back at the local Jaguar agent. One of the problems described above however he did manage to avoid. A 5’6″ nuggety little scrum half, he fitted it perfectly and it suited his flamboyant nature. However the one which caused all his fellow players the most amusement was when he turned up at the club with no kit, it being firmly lodged in the boot, the release catch/cable having broken, a known weakness I believe. It was almost two weeks before it was released and he subsequently turned up to change before the game into a brilliant pink Jock Strap and similarly hued shorts and top as a result of the dye in the dark maroon/red rings in the club socks, leaching into adjacent material including his laundry in the damp atmosphere in the boot. You can imagine the hilarity this caused and the direction the subsequent ribbing took. More seriously he did quickly become aware of its tendency to rise and wander when getting into the upper range of its speed capability. So much so that whithin 14/15 months he parted with it. This was predominantly because of the aforementioned problems but also because the tax man caught up with him and his original exhaustion of his account to pay for the thing in the first place meant it had to go anyway. As far as I can remember he eventually replaced it with a Healey 3000.
    At 6’4″ I never got the opportunity to drive or even passenger in the E Type but club members who had professed they felt more comfortable in my 1954 XK 120 DHC. when we gave carless players a lift to away games. There being no upper limit on de-regulated roads in those days, both cars would be stretched to 100+ speeds when suitable roads became available. My XK usually got the thumbs up in passenger satisfaction. I felt this more than justified my outlay of £70 for the car plus about £50 to address the odd niggles of a 40k used car including lowering the seat slightly into the floor, dispensing with the adjuster rails and making a smaller diameter Steering wheel to allow more freedom of movement to my thighs when braking, changing gear etc. It was mentioned above that the E Type provided more satisfaction than any other experience except for the unclothed variety. The XK did however provide such an opportunity; ie to a gymnastic masochist provided the two doors were left open, the gear box was in reverse, the handbrake off and the weather was reasonable! It was very very good though when it came to the pursuit of the next Mrs/Ms ???, managing to attract the most delightful parteners to its comfortable warm and cosy innards, even to a slightly battle scarred prematurely balding creature such as I. The XK soldiered on for about 12 or so years before the rigours of daily use, much of it up and down the country on works business, finally exposed its final set of weak spots (everything) and it was reluctantly put away to be sold on to a potential restorer, although it hasn’t appeared on any UK listing since.

  • Terry Ingles says:

    Andrew English writes in the present tense, just like a lot of other current “historians”. The car was designed in the fifties and built for sale in the 1960s for goodness sake. It was a legend in its own lifetime, since overtaken by other “super cars”. There is more debate in the politics and philosophy of the construction and sale of the “works” replicas. I do not particularly like the shape, but then I am probably stuck in the fifties and sixties anyway, my favourite Jag being the XK120 coupe and I own the poor man’s substitute – an MGA 1600 coupe.

  • Bruce Douglas says:

    It is very interesting to see the number of comments that the two differing assessments have provoked!

    Personally, I am with Andrew English on this matter. I think that his assessment is well written and fair.
    It is certainly not a good-looking car though it is quite stunning. Very much a “look at me” type of car. Some of the proportions make it look like an unresolved design. The skinny wheels in the overly bulbous wheel arches, for example, and the excessively long bonnet compared with the size of the cockpit and rear sections. For all its size, it still manages to be very cramped and, as several people have commented, it is a struggle to cope with the earlier series cars if you are only of medium build and almost impossible if you are tall or well-built!

    Construction was overly complex and the bodywork was prone to serious rot. Nice engine but not much else in my opinion. Sorry Jaguar owners..!

  • Kevin Fitzgerald says:

    I’ve owned 3 E types: a 68 Series 1.5 that took me from Quebec to Key West, Fla, and two ’69 E types I’ve restored and driven. I know the good and bad points. It’s fairly obvious the first writer never owned one, and his comments are pretty shallow. I entirely expected him to say, ” I think they should yank out the straight six engine and put in a 283.” As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City refers to the E Type (which is on permanent exhibit there) as a rolling sculpture. The car never needed Enzo’s approval. With the way the bonnet comes up, it’s a dream to work on, unlike most cars. If you’re going to critique something, first know what you’re talking about. Anybody can be negative. This guy is no kind of automotive journalist, just somebody who thought he could get people’s attention by slamming the car. Next time do your homework if you want people to take you seriously.

  • George Holt says:

    However wrote this article. Should take up flower arrangements, clueless to what he writes. You only have to see an etype race at goodwood to disprove his Drabble ! Shame on Hagerty to allow the dribble ! Compare the etype to any super car when introduced! Unbelievable. And top notch British

  • John Tulloch says:

    Just back from a 210 mile round trip from Phoenix to Prescott, Arizona in my 1965 S1 4.2 litre Coupe. The car ran beautifully, handled the hills very well and when we stopped in Prescott caught the enthusiasm of a number of unversed passers-by. Not bad for a 56 year old car. It may not be perfect but it does put a smile on many faces, including this driver.

  • Andrew says:

    I don’t think it is overhyped, I have always liked Jags and always will, I have never owned one, but in todays choice I would choose either the XF, XJ or F Pace,I think they are Brilliant looking cars.

  • Steve Evans says:

    A friend Pete was approaching retirement and we were looking at doing something different so it would always be a good memory, We found out he had always wanted an E Type well we couldn’t spring to that but my brother is a proud owner of a V12 Roadster in shiny black chrome wires so after many promises of looking after the car he lent it to me the look on Pete’s face was worth all the hassle in arranging it the drive to his house included a bit of M6 and the waves and honking horns showed the big cat was still appreciated and the last part of the journey was the icing on the cake when a Subaru driver at the lights Sat revving was left wondering what happened as he was left spinning his tyres as we pulled away from him,at the next lights he pulled alongside with a big grin and gave us the thumbs up a wonderful experience and as far as I know Pete is still saving up to buy one

  • Rob Morgan says:

    To nitpick on a car this iconic and this beautiful is frankly absurd. To go through it’s deficiencies as a car designed in the late fifties is ridiculous. What exactly is it being benchmarked against? A Ferrari costing three times as much? Let it be known that all sports/gt cars from all periods of time have a certain number of deficiencies, you put up with these for the looks and the feel of the thing, sure the gearbox was crap and it was never as quick as they claimed but who cares? Saying people who get hung up on the car saying it’s the secret of eternal youth are a wee bit sad is wrong, people who spend time dissecting the poor thing to find fault are the ones who are a wee bit sad. Sure the jag saloons were probably better all rounders – certainly any wheel man of the time would tell you this, but just love the E for what it is – a style icon that set the scene for a fabulous decade of British history

  • Pete Silverberg says:

    I own a ’67 FHC so I am biased. However, I can say that every time I drive the car it attracts lots of attention, tooted horns, thumbs up, crowds at the gas pumps. The looks of the car resonate with most people even today, 60 years after it was created, even though they have no idea what it is. “I love old BMW’s” or “what the f*** is that?” are examples of comments I get. Every car created is the sum of the compromises made and the E-type set the standard for looks, performance and cost back in the day. I can tell you that the thing is a hoot to drive. Clearly Mr. English is looking for a reaction, clearly his opinion is in the minority of the motoring public.

  • Yiangos Mandrides says:

    I bought my series 3 V12 Etype 2+2
    coupe 1976, still have it, I only wanted one car and that was the one. It’s absolutely fantastic to drive , it’s drop dead gorgeous, and very powerful . I fully agree that is not a sports car, but a grand tourer, and I personally believe one of the best jags ever made.
    The guy hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about. I wonder has he ever been in one?

  • Carl Pereira says:

    I remember a friend at University taking me for a run in his bright red E-Type convertible down a narrow winding country road in the mid 80s. It was ‘nice’ but I felt nowhere as much fun as my little Lotus Elan which had the added advantage of being a lot easier to get in and out of. This probably explains why almost 40 years later I still have the Elan!

  • George Michaels says:

    Overhyped? Definitely not.
    After reading the article and all comments I can’t help but wonder if they are all writing about the same car. I owned a maroon 1966 E-type roadster (4.2L) and it was an incredible experience. I bought it new and had it about 5 years. Never had a problem of any kind. It was such a pleasure to drive and also a pleasure to just look at. It wasn’t perfect but was close, especially for it’s time (and price). Through the years I’ve owned many great cars – some were faster than the E-Type, some handled better, and all were great fun to drive. But it’s the E-Type that holds a special place in my memory, to the point that I even dream about it from time to time. It was an extremely beautiful car and I still miss it. Also, I’m 6’3″ and was about 200lbs when I drove it and although a bit tight it wasn’t bad at all, even on long drives. Of course the top was down about 90% of the time.

  • Kevin Jones says:

    I owned a 3.8 FHC from 2004 to 2015. Loved it. Took it to Sainsbury’s, on occasional trips to the dump (before it became too valuable) and to Le Mans. No problems with heat soak into the cabin, overheating, or for that matter anything except rust. I’m 6’1″ and was able to get comfortable – just about.

    The key to understanding the E-Type is that they only planned to make 1,000 of them. If they had realised that they were going to make 72,000 then there are lots of things that they might have done differently. They designed it to fit Norman Dewis, unlike our MGB which was designed to fit everybody from 4′ to 7′ tall. The side windows are flat. That huge bonnet is ideal for pulling into the pits in the middle of the night, with literally anything wrong and minimal time available to fix it. It doesn’t have any real benefit for a road car, and it’s a nightmare to get that long shut line close and consistent. I believe the best restorers set aside two days to fit the bonnet to a standard that today’s customers, accustomed to Audis and BMWs, will accept. A full monocoque would have made more sense for a volume-produced car, it would have looked every bit as good, and it might well have resulted in a stiffer structure too.

    The Jaguar IRS is very effective, but the rubber bushes have to be in top condition for the car to handle correctly. It is also very big. This doesn’t matter so much on a big saloon car but it takes a lot of space out of the E-Type.

    I read somewhere that Jaguar made hardly any money on the E-Type, and owning one I could see how complicated it must have been to make. I have no idea how the headlamp ‘scoops’ were fitted during assembly. The only way I could find to re-fit them (after working on the horns) was to loosely fit one of the three screws, pull the scoop round with a bit of duct tape stuck to the back, so as to align the next screw with its hole, and finally peel off the duct tape.

    I might have been doing it wrong, and I didn’t have a ramp, but I found it easier to get at the oil drain plug if I took the air cleaner off first. And the rear brake calipers were a nuisance to get at, so I suspect lots of owners back in the day won’t have bothered to change the brake fluid.

    Still a great car. You just have to understand that it wasn’t designed with ease of manufacture or ease of maintenance in mind.

  • Charles Chadwyck-Healey says:

    When I bought a 2nd hand pale grey E type coupe in 1965 at the age of 25 I thought I had arrived. It was the most exciting car to own. I had to sell it the following year as I needed the money. But the year after that I bought a DB4GT for less than I paid for the Etype, and kept it for 10 years.

  • Rodney james White says:

    I think you’ve missed the point ,mate . I own a 1968 series 11/2 and almost everywhere I drive I get I get thumbs up from other drivers and when I park people come over and say ” What a great car ” and fall into conversation about it . Sure , all cars have their faults but I think most E owners can and will live with that and it is easily compensated with all their good points . I have driven it at Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia and have had some interesting duels with 911’s and whilst they could almost keep up with the E through the bends and chicanes the E just blew them away on the straights and I ran out of room down the straight whilst hitting 140mph and still accelerating before braking to take the right hander .

  • Rodney james White says:

    Hello , you seem to be at times hypercritical of the E . 1)With regard to a ” beached submarine ” . You have a go at designing something better that ends up in the USA MOMA and gets the calibre of Enzo Ferrari’s reputed comments . Besides Enzo did say that the only thing wrong with the E was that it didn’t have a Ferrari badge ! 2 ) Also find another car of the 60’s that can repeatedly outperform 7.1 litre V8 AC Cobras . 3) Cost now ,I think doesn’t really come into it . It means they appreciate like crazy and so are a good investment if you eventually want to sell .However you do have some praise for the E when you say :- 1) Everytime I drive and E – type it’s better than I remember 2) Handling – An E goes where you point it .3)The ride is so much better than other cars of even vaguely sporting nature of the era .
    They go like the clappers .I have a 1968 Series 1 1/2 and have driven it at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, Western Australia and was hitting 140 mph down the main straight and still accelerating when I ran out of road . I had a duel with a couple of 911’s and whilst they were competitive in the bends and chicanes , when we hit a straight the E just blew them away .

  • David Meale says:

    The first guy was talking rubbish, I had a 67 s1, regarding the tyres, what did he expect? Wide tyres weren’t about until the late 60s,dunlop had to design the 205/70s for the xj6 in 68,all cars had skinny tyres in 61,even formula 1.

  • John Covntry says:

    I assume Mr. English is being deliberately provocative by trotting out a load of heavily biased twaddle, to promote an argument. For example, the idea that 6 footers cannot drive them may be true for the original flat floor cars, but that was rectified fairly early on by re-shaping the cross-member behind the seats and adding footwells, which between them gave a further 4″. As a 6 footer myself, I have no problem getting comfortable in my 1963 E-type, nor do I find the beautiful seats of a 3.8 uncomfortable, or the Moss box an issue, but maybe that is because I was brought up to double de-clutch, which I tend to do out of habit whenever I drive a car with a manual gearbox. I’m on my third E-type, with a total of 35 years of E-type ownership under my belt, and I’m with Mr. Lilywhite (and Toad) 100%.

  • Lotus17racer says:

    Unphased? Oh dear, David. But like the E-Type’s bad points, it will be forgotten over time. I am fortunate enough to have a lovely collection of cars but the 3.8 E-Type coupe is simply the prettiest by far.

  • Tim Mills says:

    In 1975 I bought a 1967 E Type OTS in Primrose Yellow reg JDU 877E for £750. It was shabby and going rusty but like many old Jaguars of that era still able to offer a wonderful driving experience for very little money. As someone said, you only had to look at it and all the faults could be forgiven. I had the bodywork restored and resprayed BRG and then kept it for 9 years, during which time it gave me more motoring pleasure than any other car before or since. Apart the visual pleasure it gave me, and its prodigious performance, it was so versatile – I fitted a towbar and it happily towed a caravan, overtaking slower traffic when necessary. It never broke down and apart from a cylinder head overhaul never required any major mechanical work. Eventually, needing a car with more seats, I sold it for £5000 and later on discovered that it actually started life as a Jaguar factory demonstrater, featuring in several magazine road tests and sustaining considerable damage on the way. Since my ownership I believe it has been completely restored by Eagle and is now worth rather more than my £750! The E Type is a very special car.

  • Stefan says:

    Clearly underhyped….

    It wasn’t and isn’t to all men’s please, but to more than any other car. And still if not owned and driven, the looks are fascinating more people than any other car. But moreover if you ever owned and/or drove the car, it let you understand even more how sensational this car still is and must have been back then, when it was released.

    The E-Type deserves the at least equal appraise than any other car including the very big ones in automotive history: the Mercedes 300 Gullwing, the Citroen DS plus the technical phenomenons like the Citroen SM and other futuristic advanced cars.

    As outlined, no matter how cramped and uncomfortable the seats are and the inside may be, it still looks fantastic and the drive is still today more modern and appealing than with many many cars even designed and produced long after the E-Types end. Perfect? No, by no means. But the imperfections are sympathetic.

    No Ferrari, Lamborghini or Astons mentioned? No, as there is no need. You can debate about the looks and the design and yet to find a majority for these cars. The E-Type will always win in this regard. Drivability? Yes sure…. Do the comparison and you will sell the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Astons for a tenner and buy an E-Type for a million.

    And here we go. I also don’t believe, that Enzo said these magic words about the E-Type. But he better should have. And maybe he has but didn’t speak it out loud.

    The E-Type at a production rate of 50 items in total would bust today every price achieved in auctions. And the overhyped Ferraris and Lamborghinis mainly deserve their appraise due to its rarity. They all have their design flaws. Not saying that they are ugly or not sensational. But in comparison to the E-Type and it’s launch year?

    You are not biased? Go and find a decent example and spend some hours driving, looking and understanding it. And getting an E-Type right for your eye, no matter if small and narrow wheels or wide ones. But if the stance is right, the car is well restored, then I bet, it will beat every other car in the world!

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