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Jaguar unveiled the brilliant E-Type at the Geneva Auto Salon in 1961 and in so doing, stunned the motoring community. With its monocoque passenger compartment/tail section, tube-framed engine bay and tilting bonnet, it was clearly descended from the legendary D-Type, but its well-appointed interior, civilized 3.8-liter XK engine, and compliant suspension made it an ideal two-seat touring car and successor for the XK 140 and 150.
The E-Type was immediately successful and its timeless design remains one of the most attractive sports cars ever built. While Sir William Lyons was personally involved in the design of all of Jaguar's cars, he enlisted the formally trained mathematician and aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer to execute the E-Type's design. Beyond its fully independent suspension and advanced four-wheel disc brakes, the XKE was also downright fast, with a reported top speed approaching 150 miles per hour. In fact, its high performance levels and superb driving dynamics placed it solidly within range of Ferrari's GT cars, but at a fraction of the price. In keeping with Jaguar tradition, the E-Type was continuously improved, and for 1965, the proven 3.8-liter engine was enlarged to 4.2 liters of displacement. Its rated horsepower remained unchanged, but a meaningful increase in torque provided greater drivability, which was enhanced by the arrival of a long-awaited, fully synchronized gearbox.
The evolution of the sublimely beautiful Jaguar E-Type was dictated by experience and the changes of a worldwide market. The first seven years of gradual change and improvement culminated in 1968 with the introduction of the Series II, a substantial redesign that also foreshadowed many of the attributes of the Series III V12 that entered production in 1971. Federal regulations in the United States drove some of the Series II's changes, including a revised headlight treatment and a substantially larger radiator air intake, flanked by full width bumpers to meet American low-speed impact requirements. The proven 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine was little changed although a 25 percent higher capacity water pump was fitted to take advantage of the larger radiator air intake, better adapting the car to hotter climates. The chassis received bigger Girling brakes and reclining seats were now standard.
Wheelbase: 96 in.
Weight: 2,625 lbs
Engine: 6-cylinder, 230-cid, 265-hp
Total production of E-Type coupes for 1961-1964: 7760