ORIGINAL COLOR WAS SIGNAL RED.
When Jaguar selected the New York Auto Show to unveil its XK8 to the American press and public, the decision was anything but arbitrary. Thirty -five years earlier, the company had pulled the blankets off the sensational new E-type in New York, giving America its first look at the street-legal derivative of Jaguar's mighty C-and D-type race cars. The E-type had the spirit of Apollo and the soul of Aphrodite. Its sinuous lines, penned by Malcolm Sayer, could be traced to the XK 120 and 140 of the late 1940s and ealy 1950s. The car was an immediate hit. Six were sold within thirty minutes of the New York show's opening in 1961.
The E had independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and aerodynamic styling, and it was powered by a 3.8liter, twin-cam six that was rated at 260 horsepower. The XK-E was 175-inches long, and it weighed just under 3000 pounds. Its four-speed manual gearbox was synchronized on the top three gears, with a single dry plate clutch and limited-slip differential. The car accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, and topped out at 150mph.
By 1963, one third of Jaguar's cars was being sold to American customers. In 1966, the company added a 2+2 coupe to the E-type line, with an optional automatic for the States. The SeriesII, with a 4.2-liter six, was introduced in 1969, the SeriesIII, with a 5.3-liter, 314-horsepower aluminum V-12, was launched in 1971.
E-types set the pace on racetracks, too. Shortly after the car was unveiled, Graham Hill won a race at Oulton Park, England, beating Aston Martin DB4s and Ferrari 250 GTs. Jaguar built about a dozen racing E-types with aluminum bodies. For more than a decade, E-types raced on every level, from the grass roots to international road reacing. The car's final moment of racing glory came in the United States in 1975, when a Series III E won the SCCA's B Production championship-a year after U.S. sales had ceased.
The bronze coupe from New York's 1961 auto show,now in the Behring Museum in Danville , CA, is thought to be the second oldest E-type in existence.
Almost fifty years after its debut, the E-type's design still seems contemporary. Call it the ultimate marriage of form and purpose. The XK-E remains the image of Jaguar in the American mind. No wonder Jaguar is trying to evoke memories of the E-type with the XK8. Autoweek May 6, 1996, Nina Padgett...SIR WILLIAM WAS ON THE MARK WITH THE 1961 JAGUAR E-TYPE.