1968 JAGUAR E-TYPE / 2018 JAGUAR F-TYPE
SAMPLING A NE-TYPE AND AN F- TYPE— TWO SPORTING JAGUARS HALF A CENTURY APART—PROVIDE SARA RETREAT FOR DONNA ND ER SON, WITH EACH GREAT IN ITS OWN INIMITABLE WAY…
TWO SPORTING JAGUARS HALF A CENTURY APART 4
Half a century and a bewildering array of modern equipment separate these two highly distinctive British sports cars, and we might wonder which one qualifies as a design milestone. As classic car lovers, we might tend to favour old over new, without always being rational.
It is more difficult now to make a significant motoring impact, given the huge number of available models and array of advancements, yet there is no doubt that the Jaguar E-type was a huge hit in its day, and the F-type is endeavouring to emulate its predecessor. However, is the F-type another ‘mission impossible’ for Jaguar? Is it truly a modern-day successor to the mighty E-type that was much more than an early ’60s motoring icon? The marque has driven down this road before, with limited success, so is the F-type a game-changer?
When E-type production ended in 1975, the XJS replacement was never cast in the same light, although time would be kind to a design that is now regarded more favourably. Two decades later, in 1996, the stylish Jaguar XK8 was elegantly proportioned — but still not an F-type. Fast forward to 2013, with the wraps lifting off a new Jaguar roadster and coupé, and, finally, the two cars bearing F-type badging.
Few people have the opportunity to drive both the Eand F-type on the same day, yet here we are sampling each treasure on quiet rural roads near Auckland in changeable autumn weather. Fifty years apart, the two cars come from different worlds, while sharing the same sporting philosophy.
The story began in 1948 with the arrival of the XK120 and the outstanding XK engine that ran for 38 years and was initially the only power source for the E-type.
The silver Series II long-wheelbase example seen on these pages is a remarkable one-family-owned car that is unrestored and totally original. Built seven years after the E-type broke cover in 1961, Pat Kerr’s left-hand-drive 2+2 4.2-litre coupé was purchased new by her parents in New York in 1968. Pat had married Phil Kerr, onetime manager for Mclaren Racing, and resettled in New Zealand, when, in 1996, a call came from her parents in the States asking her if she would like the Jaguar.
There could be only one answer, and the E-type was duly shipped here with a mere 20,000 miles (32,187km) on the clock. Since then, the car has covered little more than 3220km and still has the original tyre on the spare wheel.
When the Jaguar was registered locally, a suitable E-type personalized plate could not be found, until the post office came up with an expired trailer rego — ‘68XKE’ — perfect, given the year the car was made and the fact E-types were labelled ‘XKE’ in North America.
When the Jaguar was registered locally, a suitable E-type personalized plate could not be found, until the post office came up with an expired trailer rego — ‘68XKE’
E-type pricing was extraordinarily low at launch — many pundits suggested it could comfortably have been 50 per cent higher; how could it be cheaper than the outgoing XK150, they pondered? Indeed, some dealers wished that the car had cost more, as that would have given Jaguar the opportunity for more attention to detail.
In the early years, the E-type retailed at a little over £2K in Britain, and £2500 ($5K) in New Zealand. Today, the 3.0-litre V6 F-type starts at $149K for the rear-wheel-drive coupé, and $164,900 for the convertible. Sitting on 20-inch Pirelli P-zero rubber, our Loire Blue F-type coupé test example is a $204K 5.0-litre V8 R with four-wheel drive that is $15K less costly than the convertible equivalent. The fixed-glass panoramic roof is $2750 extra, and lightens up a somewhat claustrophobic all-black interior, while a carbon-fibre roof alternative is a costly $5600.
All six- and eight-cylinder F-types boast engine supercharging, and if the R still fails to stir your performance passion (unlikely), there’s an even more powerful SVR for $240K, or $255K in convertible form. The SVR is the fastest, most powerful production Jaguar road car, and you can spend more by optioning $14,850 for the carbon ceramic brake pack and forged wheels, and $9050 for an exterior carbonfibre pack for the power vents, bonnet louvres, mirror caps, and bumpers.
Four different types of brakes are on offer, and the top-shelf carbon ceramic discs reduce unsprung weight by a useful 21kg, providing the most powerful stoppers ever fitted to a Jaguar road car, which contrasts sharply with those on the early E-types. Drive the car hard, and the torquevectoring system applies brake pressure to slow the inside front and inside rear wheels independently to reduce understeer.
There is now a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged model that adds a new dimension to the F-type and is under evaluation for New Zealand. It would clearly be more affordable than the sixes and eights, while still enjoying their stunning styling and great road manners. A sign of progress, the fourcylinder Ingenium motor produces 295bhp (220kw) — more than any six- or 12-cylinder E-type.
Remarkably, the 2.0-litre F-type’s claimed maximum of 249kph (155mph) is higher than any E-type model, while a generous 400Nm of torque is available
from as low as 1500rpm. There’s no problem distinguishing the various engine options, with quad exhausts for the V8, dual for the V6, and a single exhaust for the in-line four.
In 1961, much was made of the E-type’s top speed of 150mph (241kph), achieved only after Jaguar had sifted through several engines to source an especially good one for an independent test in the hands of the late Maurice Smith, then editor of The Autocar weekly. It seems that the 265bhp (198kw) at 5500rpm from the 3.8-litre XK was often optimistic. Nor were the Dunlop cross-ply tyres safe for extended running over 120mph (193kph), so Dunlop R5 racing rubber was fitted.
Running on a Belgian motorway early one morning, Smith found that the Jaguar would wind up easily to 145mph (233kph), but that the final 8kph was a long time coming. During one high-speed run, the occupants were shocked by a terrifying bang that sounded like a rifle shot or blown tyre. Apparently, the body had flexed, and with the reduction of outside pressure round the outside of the doors, together with the interior pressure, the passenger door had sprung open onto its safety catch. Fortunately, there was no loss of control.
Small details, like the front bumper overriders and faired-in headlights (that would later be dropped) could affect overall top-end performance, as did optional gearing. Either way, the E-type was a stonking performer in its day. It cruised at 99mph (160kph), and owners marvelled at the way that the long nose of the car rose with a flooring of the accelerator.
That stunning acceleration has been carried through to today’s SVR F-type coupé, with its claimed top speed of 195mph (314kph). The V6 version does a highly respectable 162mph (260kph) and the R V8 reaches 186mph (300kph). Performance is never lacking in any of the F-type variants.
Spirit of an era
When it comes to body style, there has never been any dissension over the older Jaguar. Dale Harrow from the Royal College of Art in Britain has said that few cars are truly milestones, but that the E-type is a wonderful sports car as well as a design of simple beauty that captures the spirit of an era. Experts agree that the original 1961 3.8 drop-head and fixed-head coupés, with their cleaner, uncluttered lines, are the best-looking E-types. Sadly, US regulations managed to have a negative effect on the car’s beautiful looks.
When the 4.2-litre XK motor arrived in 1964, Jaguar claimed the same 265bhp (198kw) output and a slight increase in torque, and while the thirsty 5.3-litre V12 Series III in 1971 might have been quieter and more refined, it was also only marginally ahead in the power stakes at 272bhp (203kw). Today’s F-type power ranges from 340bhp (250kw) and 380bhp (280kw) for the V6s to 550bhp (405kw) for the R and 575bhp (423kw) plus a
massive 680Nm of torque for the SVR — little wonder that the SVR accelerates to 62mph (100kph) in 3.5 seconds, and ramps on to a top speed of 200mph (322kph).
Put the two cars together, and the F-type’s 4482mm overall length is only marginally up on the E-type’s and virtually identical to the 2+2 model’s, but the bulkier new car is 1923mm wide compared with 1676mm for the 2+2 E-type that launched in 1968 with its higher roofline. The F-type wheelbase of 2622mm compares with 2438mm and 2667mm for the respective E-types.
Instead of being welded, the highly rigid F-type’s body is bonded and riveted with alloy side panels, but the lightweight aluminium architecture of the F-type is not enough to counter the massive increase in equipment. This elevates the kerb weight of the all-wheel-drive coupé to 1730kg, while the E-type coupé is 1402kg and the E-type roadster a lightweight 1315kg.
How easy it is to be absorbed by the arresting looks of these two cars, each of which is a work of art!
On the road with the two cars, the E-type certainly feels and is roomier, with its minimal rear seating, brighter red leather trim, and larger glass area enhancing visibility. The F-type is a tight ship, with almost no space behind the front seats and a boot largely taken up by the spare wheel. With both cars, the long bonnet makes for tricky low-speed manoeuvring, heightened in the E-type’s by its heavy non-assisted steering. The older car’s ventilation is mediocre — there’s no air conditioning, of course — with heat soak around the transmission tunnel and the less-thanbrilliant seats. Early manuals suffered from a slow gearbox that was replaced in 1965 by an all-synchromesh baulk-ring box, and there were much-needed braking improvements as the model progressed. Yet, somehow, you can forgive any negatives for the unique drive experience, and the willingness of the twin-overheadcamshaft straight-six.
As production ended, John Langley, one-time motoring editor of
The Daily Telegraph national newspaper in Britain, was the last journalist to road test an E-type. He said, “In years to come I am sure the deficiencies will be forgotten.
Remarkably, the 2.0-litre F-type’s claimed maximum of 249kph (155mph) is higher than any E-type model, while a generous 400Nm of torque is available from as low as 1500rpm
We shall remember only the glamour of the car, its superb performance and the thrill of that first view down the long, louvred bonnet.”
Jackie Stewart recalled the car as a representation of the Swinging Sixties and a “totally intoxicating car with elegance, and daring, and speed and smoothness”. Fellow racer Innes Ireland reckoned that he always drove his 3.8 E-type at around 130mph (209kph) on the M1 motorway, and “it never gave me any trouble at all”.
In the F-type, you relish the smooth and flexible fast-acting eight-speed ZF auto transmission that has three modes (standard, sports, and full manual), the 52/48 front-to-rear weight distribution that helps to promote exceptional road manners, the air vents that vanish into the top of the dashboard, the marvellous advancement of equipment, and the unique styling.
The large aerodynamic rear wing deploys at 70mph (113kph) (60mph [97kph] on the convertible) and stows at 50mph (80kph) (40mph [64kph]), but it can be left in an elevated position. When deployed, the wing gives a drag-coefficient reduction of two per cent and a lift-coefficient reduction of 15 per cent. Of academic interest — unless you are trackside — the wing is stowed to reduce drag when exploring the maximum top speed.
The F-type’s sporting traits are further emphasized by a ride that tends to err on the side of firmness, and the Active Sports Exhaust that will wake the neighbours on start-up, even in quiet mode.
Like the long-gone E-type, this is a serious sports machine, and your friends — and other road users — will clearly know and hear you have arrived.
And so the legend continues, even if the arrival of the F-type has been unable to create the storm of its predecessor. Initially, Jaguar boss Sir William Lyons thought that about 1000 E-types would satisfy markets, but, over a production period of 15 years, 72,518 E-types were made, with the majority of production going to North America. Most popular was the Series I, with 38,419 made, split almost equally between 3.8- and 4.2-litre engines. Between 1968 and 1971, a total of 18,809 Series IIS found owners, and 15,290 Series III V12s were made. Just 8000 E-types were exported to 73 countries (excluding North America), and Australia and New Zealand took about 1500 of these. Bruce Mclaren owned an early black convertible, but the most famous New Zealand–resident E-type owner was the late Sybil Lupp, the first New Zealand woman to achieve national prominence in motor racing. Sybil owned no fewer than 15 Jaguars, including her much-loved gold 1972 E-type V12 that was well regarded around Wellington streets.
Meanwhile, in the first four years of production, just over 40,000 F-types have been built, and 186 new–in–new Zealand examples have been sold — a surprisingly high number given the specialist nature and high cost of the car. One in five F-types sold here since launch has been a convertible.
The F-type is a modern-day interpretation of a dream-jaguar-made-reality 57 years ago, although it may not stir the senses to the same degree as did the E-type. Sensational looks are common to both, and each represents a rare experience. The F-type is an exquisite design that is unlikely to date — yet, in the years ahead, will we judge today’s interpretation in the same light as the E-type?
However you view the F-type, there is little doubt that it is an automotive landmark that follows in the wheel tracks of the legendary XK120, XK140, XK150, and E-type. Ponder, too, on this. Given the pace of technology and a deteriorating environment, people born today may never drive a motor vehicle. For classic car enthusiasts, the thought is almost too hard to bear. So rejoice while you can in these two rather special Jaguars.
The F-type is an exquisite design that is unlikely to date, yet in the years ahead will we judge today’s interpretation in the same light as the E-type?
Left: 1968 – Pats mother stands by her new car Below left: 1972 – Pat getting into the car – she certainly enjoyed driving it Below: 2007 – Pat with Jack Brabham, when he was in NZ for the A1 GP