Tire Tracks: Jaguar E-Type Drive
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and that’s especially true of how a car is styled. Few cars ever get unanimous praise for their looks. But, one that does is the e-type jaguar. Penned over a half century ago, the e-type still looks “smashing”. But, beyond styling, does the e-type deserve its legendary status? Well, our roger mecca wondered that too, so he set out to see if e-type lore is more than skin deep.
Roger Mecca: When the Jaguar E-Type debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in 1961, it took the car world by storm. It’s mix of jaw-dropping style, combined with racecar-like performance, and daily ease of use, set it apart from everything else on the road.
The styling was so dramatic in fact, that Enzo Ferrari himself declared this the most beautiful car ever made. And 63 years later, I still think Enzo’s right.
Henry Pitts: I never get tired of driving the car and I think that’s the amazing thing.
Roger Mecca: Henry Pitts is the proud owner of this 1971 Jaguar E-Type series two convertible. But it’s actually the second one he’s owned. In the late 60’s, he was taking his MGB roadster in for service when he saw an E-Type for sale in front of the mechanic’s shop. It was love at first sight.
Henry Pitts: I immediately said ‘What are you gonna give me for the MGB’ and bought it. Again, because it was the most beautiful car I had ever seen. And then as I drove it and owned it, I fell in love with how the car was put to together, and how it handled and how it drove.”
Roger Mecca: Without question, both inside and out, the E-Type is a beautiful car, but praise has been piled on it since 1961 and I think we all want to know if it’s as enjoyable to drive as it is to look at. So let’s start with some basic numbers.
When it came out in 1961 it was faster than its Ferrari or Aston Martin counterparts but it was about half the price. 0-60 took you about 7 seconds and you get up to a top speed of about 140 to 150 miles per hour. Those figures are not exactly spine-tingling by today’s standards.
In fact, the Honda Accord Sport would probably leave it in its dust. But that doesn’t mean it’s not quick. The 4-liter straight-six still gives you enough punch to make things interesting.
And it’s when the turns tighten up that the fun really begins. I’ve got a lot of steering feel coming back from the front wheels. This skinny little steering wheel still feels weird in my hands, but at the same time, I know exactly where the car is going and it responds very quickly to what I want it to do.
It’s a great car to take on a winding, twisty road. Like I said, it’s not particularly fast, but when you take it on a nice drive like this, it responds very well and it feels quick.
It feels like a sports car, like it should. To complement the handling, the car’s clutch is smooth, the series-2 transmission that Jaguar started using in 1969 is effortless and the shifter is in the perfect spot. The seats are both supportive and very comfortable. All making for a delightful place to spend your time. And by now you probably want to own one and I don’t blame you- so do I.
A nice one will cost you at least 50-thousand dollars. A really beautiful one that’s in great shape like this? 80-thousand or more. But where this differs from a comparable Ferrari or Aston Martin of the time, are the maintenance costs.
In fact, Henry says he spends only a few hundred dollars every couple of years to change to oil. So… after spending the day with this legend, what’s my verdict?
Well, let me put it this way: this smile has not left my face since I got in the car and it’s not just because I’m excited about being in an E-Type. It’s because everything is coming together and when a car does that it feels special, it feels like it’s worth all the praise it’s gotten since it debuted in Geneva in 1961. And I can definitely say it’s worthy of the praise it’s going to get… for the NEXT 53 years.