From the second the wraps came off at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, it became ‘the’ car of the stars with a demand that overwhelmed the production line as anyone and everyone clambered to snap up a model.
Back in its day, it would have cost you £2,098, if like Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen, you were lucky enough to own one.
And now for a little extra cash – well quite a lot extra to be honest, an E-type could be all yours thanks to Jaguar’s Classic E-type Reborn programme that was launched in 2017.
With prices from £295,000, these models are as close to the original Series 1 as possible with designers relying heavily on Jaguar’s heritage fleet, expertise and even some original sketches to develop the cars.
Every E-type Reborn begins with a base vehicle sourced by Jaguar’s E-type experts and from there the vehicle is completely restored according to the company’s original 1960s factory specification. Jaguar Classic Parts are used throughout, to maximise the vehicle’s quality, longevity and collectability.
Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, said: “The launch of E-type Reborn is a hugely exciting development for Jaguar Classic. The E-type is the most iconic sports car of all time, so we are delighted to be able to give new life to expertly selected examples for discerning customers around the world to own and enjoy.
“The resources and information available to Jaguar Classic’s expert technicians are unrivalled, which results in the most authentic E-type restorations possible.”
As much of the original vehicle as possible is retained or refurbished to correct specifications, while any safety-critical parts are replaced with new items from Jaguar Classic Parts. Body panels from Jaguar Classic’s reverse-engineered panel programme are fitted where necessary, to remove corrosion and restore the E-type’s iconic looks with the best fit possible. The E-type Reborn team’s meticulous attention to detail even extends to recreating the correct type of spot-welding when refitting those panels.
A number of sympathetic upgrades from later E-types can be incorporated into the restoration process at extra cost.
But one fact that rings true the world over is that the E-type is one of the most instantly-recognisable cars of all time with its lengthy louvred bonnet, beautifully curvaceous streamlined body, distinctive headlights and smart wheels.
And I had the absolute privilege to get behind the over-sized steering wheel for a spin in the iconic vehicle.
Powering our rear-wheel-drive E-type was a punchy six-cylinder 3.8-litre, petrol engine matched to a four-speed manual transmission. It fires up at the press of a button (rather than a traditional key) with an almighty roar and that simply adds to the already high expectations. Add a little pressure to the throttle and the noise resembles feeding time in the Serengeti when the lions have been fasting for a week!
The 0-60mph sprint time is just 6.8 seconds but, in all honesty, it feels much quicker and this E-type boasts a top speed of 150mph. If you’re a shrinking violet type of person who shies away from attention, then forget driving the E-type because it turns heads wherever it passes. And while it puts a smile on your face, others will turn green with envy.
It feels quick through the four-speed gearbox and with 269PS of power and 353Nm of torque the engine is more than capable of delivering the goods to drive the 1.2-tonne car.
The grip into bends is good enough even though initially you feel a tad apprehensive and almost respectful of the E-type. That soon turns into a temptation too far as it opens up on the country lanes.
The car has a certain raw quality about it that you would never tire of and as you press firmer on the accelerator, the burst of power and increase in volume transports you back to those heady days of the sixties. It really must have felt like you were driving a turbo-charged rocket back then.
Of course, I am looking at this all through rose-tinted spectacles and why not indeed? After all, this is one of life’s great inventions so who wants to knock it?
However, that said; I should mention the brakes – or rather lack of them. We have become used to instant reactions from brake pedals but you have to almost stand on the one inside the E-type. Then there is that oversized steering wheel. It’s huge and after a few roundabouts, you will have biceps akin to Popeye which is just as well as you will need them to somehow find reverse gear!
And on the matter of reversing, the lack of door mirrors means you have to physically turn around to see what’s behind you. Of course, reversing cameras were a thing of futuristic science fiction technology in those days.
But, if you ask me would I have a modern sports car or the E-type there would be only one possible answer as I hand in my Lotto ticket and pray for my six numbers to come up.
There is a saying that states you should never drive your dreams. As far as I’m concerned, it’s totally wrong and I loved every single second behind the wheel of my absolute dream car.