THE FIRST E-TYPE ROADSTERS
Jaguar initially tooled up to build just 1000 E-types. But on launch day in March 1961 it was besieged with orders and had to up production to 5000.
Between March and July only a handful went through the Browns Lane gates and those that did were destined for competition, racing drivers, famous faces, dealer demonstrators and anybody who could convince Sir William Lyons or Lofty England that they were important enough to jump the queue.
Americans, screaming for E-types, only got two roadsters in February, five in March, none in April and just 11 in May. June deliveries were better at 93 and in July 127 were shipped to New York. But we Brits were screaming too and by the middle of July the factory had built a special batch of 54 open cars as UK dealer demonstrators.
The first 25 rhd roadsters off the line had already gone to celebrities and racers like Tommy Sopwith, John Coombs, Bruce Mclaren, Jack Lambert, Briggs Cunningham, the Earl of Warwick and one to the Daily Mail as a competition prize.
Built on the 28th of June, chassis 850062 was one of those 54 dealer cars specially lined up and photographed outside Browns Lane to reassure the thousands of desperate buyers clamouring for test drives that the slinky new Jags were on their way. There are three green roadsters with French Grey hoods in that famous picture – and OSL is one of them.
The famous 54 outside the Browns Lane factory