When a car takes in special accolades that no other car ever earns, then it is destined to become a classic. Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the famous Ferrari Auto car manufacturing company, referred to only one car as “the most beautiful car ever made,” and that car was not a Ferrari. It was the 1961 Jaguar E-Type, made by the British auto maker Jaguar cars. The 1961 E-Type was actually the first in the E-Type line, but it was the only E-Type to not have racing specifications. The 1961 E-Type was first launched in the United States, and it was already famous by the time it was released four months later in its native Britain.
What Makes The 1961 E-Type Special?
The 1961 E-Type is the only one in the line to have a flat floor design and external bonnet latches on the hood that required a custom tool to open. These two features alone make the 1961 E-Type rare and collectible. The 1961’s 3.8-liter engine was only in use for three model years before it was upgraded to 4.2-liters in 1964.
The Jaguar E-Types could go from zero to 60 mph in just under seven seconds, which is a power feature that remained constant throughout the entire E-Type run. But what made the E-Type stand out in 1961 is what makes it collectible today; its innovative look. Car makers from Italy to the United States went on and on about the beauty of the Jaguar E-Type, and that beauty helps to fuel demand to this day.
The Feel Of The 1961 Jaguar E-Type
At initial glance, this two-seat auto looks like it would be rather uncomfortable to drive for any average sized adult. But such is the deception of the E-Type’s design as it became very roomy once any average sized adult sat in one of the bucket seats. The prominent front hood extends out in such a way that had never been seen before, and that helped to make the car look longer and faster when it was on the road.
In some instances, style was preferred over functionality. The front end of the 1961 Jaguar E-Type was so aerodynamically poor that the front of the car would actually start to lift off of the ground a 90 m.p.h. or faster. Later designs would compensate for this problem, but its instability at high speeds would explain why this Jaguar was never considered a racing vehicle.
The Look Of The 1961 Jaguar E-Type
While the long front hood created a unique profile for the 1961 E-Type, the front of the vehicle is what made it famous. The small radiator grill in the front offset on each side by large, covered headlights created a face that etched its way into automotive history. Every super movie spy from James Bond to Austin Powers would be seen driving a 1961 E-Type, and inevitably the front end of the vehicle was always the first thing movie goers saw.
When the Jaguar E-Type was first introduced in 1961, it carried a price tag of around $2,358 USD. This frustrated other European luxury car makers because Jaguar had made its retail price more than half that of the competition. A beautiful and powerful vehicle priced like a family car was tough for Ferrari and the others to compete with.
Today, a 1961 Jaguar E-Type in mint condition can be bought for anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000 USD. This is a vehicle that has stood the test of time, and retains its title as the “most beautiful car ever made.”