Iconic E-Type still turning heads

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 2011, 12:00am

George Best drove one. So did Brigitte Bardot, Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen. Anyone who was anyone drove an E-Type Jaguar in the swinging '60s. The 265 horse-powered, 3.8-litre, two-seater epitomised the era, and Enzo Ferrari is reported to have said it was 'the most beautiful car in the world'.

The iconic fastie turns 50 next month, but Jaguar's global celebrations are already under way in Hong Kong. Four E-Types were the highlight of a range of old and new Jaguars at last month's Classic Car Club of Hong Kong's annual lunch, with more commemorative events due here this year, says the dealer's spokesman, Benny Sit.

No wonder the 240km/h car is a looker. The E-Type's power-bulged, wind-tunnelled bodywork was designed by Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical engineer who had shaped the marque's Le Mans-winning C and D-Type racers.

The GBP2,256, 15-shilling car was such a hit at its launch in Geneva on March 15, 1961, that Jaguar made 70,000 E-Types in three series over 14 years.

The Series 1 were given 4.2-litre engines in 1964, offered the 2+2 option two years later and retained glass covers over their headlamps.

The Series 2 from 1969 had a bigger mouth, a dashboard redesign and comfier seats, while the Series 3 from 1971 had a thumping 5.3-litre, V12.

The E-Type has always been popular here. 'There are around 10 of them in Hong Kong and in tip-top condition,' Sit says. 'Our service colleagues [search] for genuine parts from Britain. We have brought many classic Jaguars back to life.' The Collectors Car Club of Hong Kong has three E-Types on its books, says the club's spokeswoman Connie Lau. Members have two 'very nice' red convertibles and a blue hardtop, she says. 'Of these, the 1961 Jaguar E-Type XKE 3.8 is still the best concours car of this series in Hong Kong.'

Architect Ian Foster has driven a Series 3 V12 here for five years. 'She's lovely to drive in Hong Kong, but that big V12 sure uses the petrol quickly; better in the US, where petrol is so cheap,' says the Irish collector. The classic 'gets noticed wherever she goes' in Hong Kong, Foster says. 'It must be all the curves on the bodywork and chrome accents that make everyone from grannies to toddlers notice her. The E-Type has a unique style and character, unlike today's Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Maserati ... they all look as if they came out of the same mould.'

Pistonheads.com lists a 1962 Series 1 Roadster at GBP59,995 (HK$749,288) and a 1973 Series 3 V12 at GBP32,500, while specialist restorers and dealers Eagle has a 1964 E-Type Series 1 4.2 Roadster 'just 25,300 miles from new' at GBP195,000 on http://www.eaglegb.com/.