Call me a sad old romantic, but I love these images of Jaguar’s iconic E-Type and XF in New York. We’re so often presented with press images devoid of any life or emotion, that when these arrived last night I thought it warranted an article all on its own.
You are probably aware that Jaguar are celebrating the E-Type’s 50th Anniversary this year, and given how the E-Type took the motoring world by a storm in 1961, the celebratory road show has been travelling to each major automotive show around the world.
Fifty years ago, the New York Auto Show played host to the launch of the Jaguar E-Type in North America – or XKE as it was known over the pond.
If any country took the E-Type to its heart, it was the United States. More than two-thirds of all models built were sent across the Atlantic, establishing a special relationship that persists to this day.
On first sight of the E-Type at its launch, Frank Sinatra is reputed to have said: “I want that car and I want it now”, and old Blue Eyes was just one in a long list of Hollywood greats to covet the two-seater sports car. Steve McQueen, Tony Curtis, Britt Ekland and Brigitte Bardot were all celebrity owners.
The beauty, performance and passion that all Jaguars embody still resonates strongly in America to this day. The 21st century XJ limousine turns as many heads in New York with its captivating presence as the E-Type did when Sinatra first saw it 50 years ago.
Jaguar’s Design Director Ian Callum explains why..
“The E-Type was ahead of its time, just as the XJ is now. Williams Lyons’ philosophy was all about taking that next step. He was very adventurous and knew that it is Jaguar’s job to break the rules. He never looked back, always forward.”
The legendary E-Type sports car is a machine so beautiful that an opalescent dark blue 1963 Open Two-Seater holds a permanent place in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Ian Callum explains, “Part of the purpose of a Jaguar is to look beautiful. We always tryto make our cars visually that little bit wider, lower and longer. That’s what our proportions are about. When you see them together, the XJ and E-Type speak the same language.”
According to Callum, the E-Type demonstrates the overriding principle of sports car design: minimum bodywork encapsulating maximum performance. He explains: “The excitement and beauty of the car were almost created as a by-product. You’ve got beauty derived from its scientific purity of surface and excitement from its proportions.”[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]Jaguars should be bought for reasons other than simply pure pragmatism, they should be bought for their style, excitement and beauty[/blockquote]
“We still work very hard to get the proportions of our cars as tight to the mechanicals as possible. Unlike the E-Type, of course, the XJ has to carry five people in total comfort but the principles of wrapping the body around the package to create exciting proportions are exactly the same now as they were 50 years ago.”
A question Callum is often asked is whether he would design another E-Type. His answer is always the same: “I would refuse, it had its time and place. What I will do is create something as dramatic now as that car was then and I think the XJ achieves that.
“Jaguars should be bought for reasons other than simply pure pragmatism, they should be bought for their style, excitement and beauty. The XJ is the most dramatic, captivating car in its class. Job done.”