“The most beautiful car ever made.” That’s what automaker Enzo Ferrari called the original Jaguar E-type sports car when it debuted at the Geneva Auto Salon in 1961, an event that will be celebrated at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Sunday, Aug. 21.
Malcolm Sayer, credited with designing the E-type, paid particular attention to aerodynamics. This resulted in the E-type’s long, sleek and fluent shape, a silhouette that has stood the test of time, whether offered as an FHC (Fixed Head Coupe) or OTS (Open Two Seater) model. The E-type, lauded for its design, was also hailed for its high performance, with a 3.8-liter, straight-six motor generating 265 horsepower.
The Jaguar Prototype E2A is considered a stepping-stone between Jaguar’s D-type and the E-type. E2A, which will be on display at Pebble Beach, was completed in February 1960 and raced at LeMans later that year, where it equaled the fastest lap before its 3-liter engine failed six hours into the race. Racing legend Briggs Cunningham then inserted a 3.8-liter engine into the E2A and adapted the hood to accommodate the larger motor, influential changes that later appeared on the production E-type.
The first E-types shown to the press and the public will also be at Pebble Beach. Chassis No. 885005 is a gunmetal grey E-type FHC that debuted March 15, 1961 in Geneva, and it will be alongside the bronze E-type FHC, Chassis No. 885004, which made the car’s American debut in New York a month later.
A number of limited-edition E-type variants were produced by Jaguar, which are now highly sought by car collectors. A 1963 Competition E-type Lightweight car – Chassis No. 850660 – will represent these rare, aluminum-bodied beauties at Pebble Beach.
Jaguar sold more than 70,000 E-types from 1961 to 1975, and the car became an icon of the 1960’s, featured in film and pop music, and owned by celebrities in the U.S. and Europe. Additionally, New York’s Museum of Modern Art added an E-type to its permanent collection in 1996, a salute to the long-lasting significance of the car’s design.