1969 Jaguar E-Type Review
Jaguar has been producing eye-catching and exhilarating cars for decades, and the 1969 E-Type was no exception. First introduced in 1961, the iconic roadster established the marque as a symbol of 1960s style and automotive performance. In 1968 Jaguar released the second series of E-Types with modifications in style and engineering. Also known as the XK-E in the United States, the E-Type Series II is a beautiful car destined for collectors and classic car enthusiasts.
Jaguar was known for luxury sedans before it introduced the world to the E-Type in 1961. The pinnacle of traditional automotive style, when it was released Enzo Ferrari called it the most beautiful car ever made. Critics consider this car among the most beautiful cars ever to be made thanks to the styling efforts of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer. While most production cars at the time had mediocre performance and substandard features, the E-Type delivered incredible speed and acceleration and an advanced unibody construction with disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and independent front and rear suspension. The car was based on the D-Type, a racing car that had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three consecutive years in a row from 1955 to 1957. Its successor had similar construction with a tubular framework and the engine bolted directly to the chassis. The new model combined performance and style and established a new automotive icon.
In preproduction models, the E-Type was able to reach 150 mph, although owners couldn’t ever recreate this speed. However, drivers could enjoy accelerating from 0 to 60 in under seven seconds. The E-Type was known for its impeccable road manners and handling. The first series had a 3.8L XK straight six engine while later models had a 4.2L version of the renowned powerplant with 265 horsepower and 283 pound-feet of torque. However, Jaguar was forced to detune the engine in 1968 for the American market.
Jaguar introduced the Series II in 1968 partly in response to new safety rules and regulations in the United States. The sleek glass covers on the headlights were removed changing the look of the car. The “mouth” at the front of the vehicle was enlarged, and two electric cooling fans were installed. While this improved cooling, it detracted from the purity of the design. Inside the car, metal toggles were replaced with plastic rocker switches. Under the hood, engineers detuned the export model destined for the United States was detuned and replaced the three SU carburetors (designed for aircraft engines) used in the Series I with two Stromberg carburetors. This reduced horsepower from 265 to 246 ad reduced torque from 283 to 263 pound-feet. There are contemporary conversions that can restore the original performance. However, models released in the United Kingdom retained the triple carburetor and tighter valve clearance as well as higher performance. Despite the decrease in performance, the 1969 E-Type had improved cooling, larger front and rear calipers for uprated braking, and a lower first gear ratio.
The Series II was available as a two-seat coupe (called the FHC) or roadster convertible (called the OTS) and as a two-by-two coupe in limited numbers. While purists might prefer the Series I, the second generation wasn’t just a detuned version of the first. The domestic model intended for the United Kingdom retained the stellar performance of the first series while profiting from improvements in cooling and braking. Regardless, the E-Type is an icon of style and performance, and almost any edition is valuable for any enthusiast or collector.