The New 3.8-Litre Jaguar E-Type G.T.

For many years now, indeed ever since before the war when the S.S.1 was conceived, new models from the company that is now Jaguar Cars Ltd. have each one been “a winner.” This is particularly true of the sensational E-type Jaguar which was announced to the world on March 15th. When the first S.S.1 was released it caused a sensation not only because it had impressive lines and went very well but on account of its modest price. The same is true of the 1961 Jaguar E-type, but there all comparison ends.

What Sir William Lyons has done is to use all that was best in the race-bred and inspired C and D-type Jaguars, learn some useful lessons from the 3-litre Cunningham Jaguar built for the last Le Mans race, evolve stylish new bodywork and combine all these ingredients in a new British Grand Touring Jaguar that is about as fast as they come, immensely accelerative, endowed with extremely good road-holding, handling and braking characteristics, able to be driven by grandma at 15 m.p.h. or less in top gear, of returning some 20 m.p.g. of fuel under fast-travel conditions and which sells in G.T. coupe form, even after the Chancellor has had his levy of well over £618, for a mere £2,196 19s. 2d. Sir William Lyons has bred another winner!

The E-type project started some four vears ago and to some degree carried on where the XKSS project, which the fire at the factory undermined, left off. Clearly the Jaguar design team, under W. M. Heynes, realised that they had components and know-how derived from a great many successes in the sports/racing field, that would enable them to produce a G.T. car, in both open and coupé two-seater form, that would have a performance formerly associated only with the most costly and exotic Italian makes, while combining such speed, stability and acceleration with the commendable smoothness, silence and dependability that has for many years sold every Jaguar saloon that the Coventry factory could construct. It is typical that Jaguar should offer this sensational new road-burning 3.8-litre G.T. model at a price which makes the term “value-for-money” seem scarcely appropriate! For the E-type costs only about a third of the price of a G.T. Maserati or Ferrari of something like equivalent performance, and less than half the price of an Aston Martin DB4GT!

Jaguar would seem to have timed the advent of their E-type well—it is obviously intended for Britain’s forthcoming new fast roads; it is just the stimulating very-high-performance car that cannot fail to increase Jaguar exports to the U.S.A. and other countries, and it is Britain’s answer to German and Italian G.T. cars, thus ensuring continued prestige for Sir William Lyons’ company at a time when it has (temporarily ?) turned its back on motor racing.

It is particularly stimulating to find that Jaguar have adopted independent rear suspension for their new E-type, proof, if such were needed, of the desirability of getting rid of the rigid back axle, however lightly constructed and well located. This is a pure i.r.s. layout, using universally-jointed drive-shafts, and was decided upon after exhaustive experiments with many different systems, including de Dion back axles. This self-contained suspension unit is mounted on rubber and 5 degrees of movement relative to its sub-frame is deliberately permitted, controlled by trailing rubber-mounted torque links. Otherwise the construction follows D-type technique. Thus the Jaguar stressed-skin method is used, dispensing with a chassis frame, a body monocoque almost entirely of 20 g. sheet steel being welded up as a load-carrying structure to which front and back sub-frarnes of Reynolds 5H square-section steel tubing are bolted. The use of i.r.s. permits inboard disc-brakes and front suspension is very closely related to that devised for the D-type and 150S Jaguar models.

General Description

The Jaguar E-type is offered to the public in two forms: an open sports car—with or without detachable hard-top—and a coupé. In both cases, the cars are two-seaters and, except for minor items of detail, their chassis and body specifications are very closely related.

The front sub-frame is a built-up unit consisting of two triangulated side-members and a deep front cross-member. These are bolted together and replacement of any of the individual units does not necessitate removal of the whole assembly. The sub-frame carries the engine and all ancillaries, together with the front suspension and steering gear. These units are shrouded beneath a fabricated front section, which is hinged to the forward end of the sub-frame, and performs the same functions as do the bonnet and front wings on a car of more conventional design. This arrangement provides for accessibility for all major components.

The six-cylinder twin-cam XK engine is used in S-type 3.8-litre triple-carburetter form, developing 265 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m. (b.m.e.p.— 172 lb./sq. in.) and 260 lb./ft. torque at 4,000 r.p.m.

Fuel is supplied by a submerged Lucas electric pump incorporated in the petrol tank. This pump is of entirely new design, and operates on the recirculation principle. Its main features are a high pumping capacity and an ability to prevent vapour locking in the petrol pipes. The carburetters have a common air cleaner, to which they are connected by a glass-fibre collector box.

The pressurised cooling system incorporates the new Lucas electric fan in place of the more conventional engine-driven unit. A thermostatic switch is employed which switches in the fan at 80 degrees C.and switches it out at 72 degrees C. The radiator is of the high efficiency cross-flow type and is mounted on the front sub-frame. A separate header tank is used, mounted between the engine and the radiator.

Power is transmitted by a hydraulically-operated 10-in. Borg and Beck single dry plate clutch, to a Jaguar four-speed gearbox. This is manually operated by a centrally positioned gear-lever and has synchromesh on top, third and second gears. A short, stiff propellor shaft continues the drive to the hypoid rear axle which, together with the rear suspension, is mounted in a sub-frame. The axle unit is fitted with a limited slip differential. Axle ratios of 2.93, 3.07, 3.31 and 3.54-to-1 are available. Normally the 3.31-to-1 ratio is used, giving gear ratios of 11.17, 6.16, 4.25 and 3.3-to-1.

The front suspension utilises a system of independent suspension based on transverse wishbones and torsion bars. The front ends of the torsion bars are mounted in extensions of the lower wishbones, thus making it possible to remove the bars without disturbing the rest of the suspension. Telescopic dampers are fitted and an anti-roll bar links the two lower sets of wishbones.

The independent rear suspension is of completely new design. Location of the wheels in a transverse plane is achieved by the use of two tubular links of which the top link is the half-shaft-universally jointed at both ends. The lower link is also a tubular structure pivoted at the wheel carrier and at the sub-frame adjacent to the differential casing. To provide maximum rigidity in a longitudinal plane the pivot bearings at both ends of the lower link are widely spaced. The suspension medium is provided by twin coil-springs on each side, to Jaguar’s own specification, enclosing telescopic hydraulic dampers, and these are mounted on each side of the differential casing. The whole assembly is carried in a fabricated steel sub-frame which is easily and quickly detachable from the body structure. This sub-frame is located in the body by four vee rubber blocks—and by a radius arm on each side of the car between the lower link and a mounting point on the body structure. The radius arm pivots are rubber bushed and, as a result, the whole suspension assembly, including the subframe, is allowed 5 degrees of movement—the amount being controlled by the characteristics of the rubber used to make the vee blocks and radius arm pivots.

The E-type Jaguar is fitted with Dunlop disc-brakes on all four wheels, 11-in. at the front, 10-in. inboard at the back. The front brakes are mounted on the wheel hubs whilst the rear brakes are mounted inboard of the half-shafts and adjacent to the differential unit. The brakes themselves are of single pair pad design in which the friction pads are quickly replaceable. They are operated by a pedal actuating twin master cylinders through a compensating device which divides the system into entirely independent circuits to front and rear brakes. Each master cylinder has its own reservoir and low-level warning system, which operates a red light on the facia panel. A Dunlop bellows-type servo is fitted and operates direct onto the brake pedal, thus providing maximum retardation with low pedal pressures. The ratio of braking is 60/40, front/rear.

Rack-and-pinion steering is fitted, and a turning circle of 37 ft is provided with only 2¼ turns from lock-to-lock. The lightweight steering wheel is of polished alloy and has a wood rim. It is separately adjustable for both height and reach.

Centre-lock 72 spoke wire wheels normally carry 6.40 x 15 Dunlop RS 5 tyres.

Rack-and-pinion steering is used, with the rack flexibly mounted on rubber, and the electrical equipment of this sensational new Jaguar is Lucas throughout. The fuel tank holds 14 gallons. The E-type is compact, haying a wheelbase of 8 ft., a track of 4 ft. 2 in. and dimensions of 14 ft. 75/16 in. x 5 ft. 5 in. 4 ft. 0⅛., the last-named relating to height, so this car definitely belongs to the exclusive breed of G.T. coupé on which the proud owner can nonchalantly lean an elbow! Ground clearance is quoted as 5½ in. and dry weights as 22 cwt. for the two-seater, 22½ cwt for the coupé.

The E-type body was designed and styled entirely in this country and will be made by Jaguar at their Coventry factory. A 1/10th-scale model was exhaustively tested in various wind tunnels. This proved the considerable upsweep of the tail to be correct. The twin exhaust pipes come out below the final-drive unit and up under the tail to secure the required extractor length and to enable additional expansion chambers to be fitted. From the back end, especially, the Jaguar E-type is a delightfully fierce-looking car, while the beautiful curves of the body are quite breathtaking at first sight. I felt glad to be an Englishman standing in Coventry viewing this amazing new British car!

Technical Appraisal

The basic structure of the body consists of two large-diameter longitudinal tubular members, which run the length of the main fuselage, and which are constructed from the outer skin panel and the inner rocker panel. At the front, two large vertical box sections are welded onto the top of the longitudinal members and these are built into a very deep box section cross-member which forms the scuttle of the body. At the rear, a deep box section cross-member is continued upwards to form a diaphragm between the rear wheel arches, whilst the panel across the top of the wheel arches is similarly boxed in for additional stiffness. The rear section of the body is built up as a stressed-skin unit with the addition of heavy-gauge stiffeners which comes up from the rear cross-member and form the base to which the rear suspension and drive units are mounted.

The main external panels are produced on a stretcher press, while most of the detail parts are made by normal presses or on rubber die presses. The all-welded construction calls for several new techniques in the welding processes, including the use of CO2 wire-welding plant.

Already the E-type assembly line is coming into being and already the new car is in production. Incidentally, Jaguar now make their own gearbox gears and have installed a phosphating bath in the body shop since my last visit.

Reverting to the early stages of E-type evolution, the required performance was sought first and a refining process was then embarked upon, much of the testing being done at M.I.R.A., under Jaguar’s head-tester, Norman Dewis. When it is remarked that this fully-equipped, properly sound-damped docile Jaguar coupé has clocked 0-60 m.p.h. in 7.0 sec., 0-100 m.p.h. in 16.0 sec., and has covered a s.s. ¼-mile in 14.8 sec. in the wet at M.I.R.A., using the 9-to-1 compression-ratio and 3.31-to-1 axle ratio, my enthusiasm for it can, perhaps, be easily comprehended, especially bearing in mind the prices, which are :—

Coupé :

£1,550 + £646 19s. 2d. purchase tax =  £2,196 19s. 2d.


£1,480 + £617 15s. 10d. purchase tax = £2,097 15s. 10d

Two-seater hard-top :

£54 + £22 10s. 0d. purchase tax = £76 10s. 0d.

Incidentally, this new E-type, capable of 155 m.p.h. on the 3.31-to-1 axle ratio or 165 m.p.h. with the 3.07-to-1 ratio, does not replace any other Jaguar model, all of which – 2.4, 3.4, and 3.8-litre Mk. II, Mk. IX, XK150 and XK150S—remain in production and full demand, the output being rather better than 500 cars per week.

The E-type on the Road

Just over a week before the announcement date of the new Jaguar I was allowed to sample it for a few hours on the roads near Coventry. I was aware that other motoring journalists had been permitted to venture as far afield as Italy in E-types but after many years’ experience of the Motor Industry I have learnt to be thankful for small mercies, and thus I gratefully headed a coupé towards M 1—a road, Mr. Marples, that was reduced to single-line traffic in several places while men toiled to plough up and re-lay its so-called hard shoulders!

What followed was quite fantastic—remembering that an honoured British name and not one hailing from Modena, Marenello or Stuttgart graced our motor car. Getting the feel of the E-type and then encountering those aforesaid single-lane sections of the great Marples Motor Road, we nevertheless found ourselves as far away as St. Albans within an hour of accelerating out of the gates of the Jaguar factory. Put the E-type in top gear and it just goes faster and faster, until it is cruising along M 1 at 6,100 r.p.m., which we calculated to be a pretty genuine 155 m.p.h. At this speed it is possible for driver to converse with passenger in normal tones, wind-noise being low and little noise coming from transmission or final-drive—a fantastic experience! The E-type felt as if it would have been happy to go the length of M 1 at this speed—equal to a sutained 6,100 r.p.m. — had not vehicles crawling along the outside lane at 90/100 m.p.h. occasionally impeded its progress! After dropping to 4,000 r.p.m., or approximately 102 m.p.h., it was possible to accelerate to 5,000 r.p.m. (127 m.p.h.) in a mere eight seconds. . . .

It must be emphasised that, rapid as it is, the Jaguar E-type is a fully equipped, properly appointed, but strictly a two-seater motor car. You climb in a thought awkwardly, over the side-sill of the body, to sit in a racing-type bucket seat upholstered in Vaumol leather over Dunlopillo foam rubber. A valid criticism is that the seat might not go back as far as really tall exponents of the full-stretch driving stance would wish. The wood-rimmed wheel with triple drilled metal spokes is set low, adjustable for height and rake. The wide doors possess windows which wind almost fully down with three turns of the handle, but no quarterlights. There is no sense of being within such a low car. Before the driver is a Smiths 160-m.p.h. speedometer and a tachometer reading to 6,000 r.p.m. with inset clock. On the central engine-turned panel are neat small dials recording water temperature (which read just above 70 degrees F.), oil pressure (40 lb./,  fuel contents and dynamo charge, with a quality lights switch between them. On the extreme left is the lamps dimming switch and a brake fluid low-level warning light. The engine-turned finish is carried on round the vertical radio panel and along the transmission tunnel, from which protrudes the normal short Jaguar gear-lever. On this I.h.d. coupé the hand-brake was inboard of the tunnel. By the side of the tachometer live the heater controls; matching on the opposite, cubby-hole panel, is a cold-start control with warning light. Along the centre panel below the dials are a line of flick-switches, etc., lettered on the bottom edge of the facia, from left to right, as follows : washers; wipers, fast, slow; map (light); starter (button); cigar (lighter); ignition (key); fan, fast, slow; panel, bright, dim; interior (light). The accelerator is of treadle-type and a left-hand stalk lever below the steering wheel controls the direction-flashers or, pulled upwards, looks after the very essential headlamp flashing.

Ahead of one the long, liberally-louvred bonnet has a big central “power bulge” which doesn’t impair visibility. Behind the seats is a big area of luggage space with a lift-up panel to prevent suitcases from sliding against the seats. Access to this is through the side-hinged rear-window panel. The shelf behind the windscreen is quite flat, not humped, which enhances forward visibility, and the screen itself, which has triple wiper blades, is more nearly vertical than on Continental G.T. cars, thus assisting side vision. The passenger has a neat grab-handle at the corner of the facia. The spare wheel lives under the floor of the luggage compartment.

The steering is very light and high-geared. The engine pinked slightly from around 3,000 r.p.m. in top gear but didn’t run-on even after fast work on M 1. Further acquaintance of this Jaguar showed it to possess extremely good brakes, the Dunlop brakes retarding it from 130 m.p.h. to a crawl without deviation, and not only without any sign of fade but without so much as smelling hot. They are light to apply, the pedal action almost spongy under normal braking. The synchromesh can be beaten if the gearlever is handled too rapidly but otherwise this is a precise, excellent gearbox,100 m.p.h. in third gear soon being taken for granted! The speedometer actually read slow, indicating about a 100 m.p.h. at a genuine 110 m.p.h., while it didn’t read above 135 m.p.h. even when the tachometer, and stop-watch checks told us we were doing 155 m.p.h.

I have no reason to quote Jaguar’s acceleration claims, because we obtained very similar figures—0-60 m.p.h. in 7.4 sec., 0-100 m.p.h. in 16.3 sec.—without practice. It was also possible to go from 10 to over 100 m.p.h. in top gear in 25 sec.!

The road-holding is of an exceptionally high standard, the car leaning on its outside wheels on really fast corners without any tendency to break away, while the ride is also outstandingly stable and comfortable. The quiet running has been emphasised previously and is most praiseworthy; slight resonance from the exhaust tail-pipes on the over-run will be rectified in production cars. Indeed, so safe to handle, even with the power turned on in second gear and the back wheels spinning, so well-braked even for stopping in a hurry from its top speed, is the Jaguar E-type, that anything below about 110 m.p.h. is loitering. Driven thus, I am told that petrol consumption does not fall below 20 m.p.g. The range, therefore, is about 280 miles, or under three hour’s of motorway driving. I would like a bigger fuel tank.

In my brief two-hour run in this remarkable car (it used threequarters of a tank of fuel and covered something like 155 miles, by no means all of them on M 1, including several stops for photography and others in rush-hour Coventry traffic!) I was not able to assess it fully but I learnt enough to know that Jaguar have produced a G.T. car which fully deserves this honoured Gran Turismo designation. The E-type is a staggering motor car on all counts; safety, acceleration, speed, equipment, appearance— all are there, for a basic price of only £1,480. Staggering! I extend to Sir William Lyons, his design team, technicians and workers my humble congratulations.—W. B.