Rare Cars: Jaguar E-type

Other than the Porsche 911 and the Chevrolet Corvette, few cars have the iconic identification of a Jaguar E-Type. Jaguar is known today as a luxury brand, but the original Jaguars were known as the affordable alternatives to sports cars of the day. Aston-Martin, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari were all target markets of the first real Jaguar sports car, the XK-150. But it was the E-Type, produced originally in 1961, which shot Jaguar into pop culture folklore.

Although many facets of the car's design were groundbreaking or revolutionary, the car was mostly an evolution of where sports car designs had already been. What was revolutionary about the car was the price: It cost about $5,000 for one of the original E-Types. When the Aston Martin, Ferrari or Rolls all cost well over $10,000, the E-Type was a steal. What made the Jaguar E-type so quickly recognizable and eventually iconic was the long, elegant hood. Previous cars made by Aston-Martin and Ferrari had already made use of this long-hooded design, but none as strikingly as the Jaguar. In fact, when the car was introduced, Enzo Ferrari, founder of Ferrari, said it was the most beautiful car ever produced, immediately incorporating many of the overall design aspects into his successful 250 GTO and, later, his Daytona models.

But it was what was beneath the hood that made the Jag legendary. It was built as a streetcar, but conceived more as a racecar. The chassis was of unibody construction, making it one of the first cars to use the technology. Originally fitted with a long-stroke high-torque, inline six-cylinder powerplant, the valve gearing was dual-overhead cams via chain drive - all cutting-edge for the time. The weight distribution was an enviable at 50/50. An absolutely race-inspired rare car design, the Jaguar E-Type gave people with slightly more than average means the ability to drive something previously reserved for racecar drivers and rich people. For example, the E-Type was better handling and faster than the Ferrari 410 and the Aston-Martin DB4 at almost one-third the price. In 1971, the Jaguar E-type got its famous V12, a mammoth 5.3-liter Ferrari eater, further launching it into enthusiasts' "best-of" category

Produced in Britain, the E-Type was actually one car that was first sold to foreign markets before being sold in the domestic UK market. The domestic market launch came four months after the first cars shipped. There were three series of E-types built up to 1975, and eventually about 75,000 cars produced for sale worldwide.

Jaguar redefined what a sports car could be, with both good looks and fair pricing, and in the process made itself one of the most desirable and rarest cars. Imagine the car insurance quote you would get on one of theserare cars!

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