The Jaguar E-Type or the Jaguar XK-E for the North American market is a British sports car, which was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. At a time when most cars had drum brakes, live rear axles, and mediocre performance, the E-Type sprang on the scene with 150 mph and a sub-7 second 0-60 time, monocoque construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, independent front and rear suspension, and unrivaled looks. In fact, the E-Type was based on Jaguar's own famed racer, the Type D, which had won the world's most prestigious sports-car race three consecutive years (1955-1957) and, as such, it was the first production vehicle not to use a separate body bolted onto a chassis, instead employing the racing design of a body tub attached to a tubular framework, with the engine bolted directly to the framework.
In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in a The Daily Telegraph online list of the world's "100 most beautiful cars" of all time.
In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.
In 2011, when Jaguar E-Type had 50th anniversary. Jeremy Clarkson said the Jaguar E-type is the essence of British brilliance.
The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a rear-wheel drive grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as a two-seater convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). A "2+2" four-seater version of the coupé, with a lengthened wheelbase, was released several years later.
On its release Enzo Ferrari called it "The most beautiful car ever made".
Later model updates of the E-Type were officially designated "Series 2" and "Series 3", and over time the earlier cars have come to be referred to as "Series 1." As with other largely hand made cars of the time, changes were incremental and ongoing, which has led to confusion over exactly what is a Series 1 car. This is of more than academic interest, as Series 1 E-Types — and particularly Series 1 OTS (convertible) examples — have values far in excess of Series 2 and 3 models.
Some transitional examples exist. For example, while Jaguar itself never recognised a "Series 1½" or "Series 1.5," over time, this sub-category has been recognised by the Jaguar Owners Club of Great Britain and other leading authorities. The "pure" 4.2 litre Series 1 was made in model years 1965-1967 (earlier Series 1 models had a smaller, 3.8 litre engine with less torque). The 4.2 litre Series 1 has serial or VIN numbers 1E10001 - 1E15888 (in the case of the left hand drive OTS), and 1E30001 - 1E34249 (in the case of the left hand drive hardtop, or FHC). The Series 1.5 left hand drive OTS has serial numbers 1E15889 - 1E18368, with the hardtop version of the Series 1.5 having VIN numbers 1E34250 - 1E35815. Series 1.5 cars were made in model year 1968.
The Series 1 cars, which are by far the most valuable, essentially fall into two categories: Those made between 1961 and 1964, which had 3.8 litre engines and non-synchromesh transmissions, and those made between 1965-1967, which increased engine size and torque by around 10%, added a fully synchronised transmission, and also provided new reclining seats, an alternator in place of the prior generator, an electrical system switched to negative ground, and other modern amenities, all while keeping the same classic Series 1 styling.The 4.2 litre Series 1 E-Types also replaced the brake booster of the 3.8 litre with a more reliable unit. "The 4.2 became the most desirable version of the famous E-Type due to their increased power and usability while retaining the same outward appearance as the earlier cars."
As of the end of 2014, the most expensive regular production Jaguar E-Types sold at auction included a 4.2 litre Series 1 OTS, with matching numbers, original paint and interior, under 80,000 original miles, and a history of being in the original buyer's family for 45 years (this car sold for $467,000 in 2013)  and a 1961 "flat floor" Series 1, selling for $528,000 in 2014. Special run racing lightweights go for far more still, with a Series 1 lightweight—one of just twelve built—selling for more than £5 million (+/- $7.5 million USD) in early 2015.
Being a British made car of the 1960s, there are some rather rare sub-types of Series 1 E-Types, particularly at the beginning and end of the Series 1 production. For example, the first 500 Series 1 cars had flat floors and external hood latches. At the close of the Series 1 production run, there were a small number of cars produced that are identical in every respect to other Series 1 units (including triple SU carbs, button actuated starter, toggle switches, etc.), except that the headlight covers were removed for better illumination. It is not known exactly how many of these Series 1 cars (sometimes referred to as for convenience sake as "Series 1.25," but per Jaguar, Series 1) were produced, but given that 1,508 Series 1 OTS cars were produced worldwide for 1967, combined with the fact that these examples were made in just the last several months of Series 1 production, means that these, like the flat floor examples that began the Series 1 production run, are the lowest volume Series 1 variant, save of course for the special lightweights.
Worldwide, including both left and right hand drive examples, a total of 7,828 3.8 litre Series 1 roadsters were built, with 6,749 of the later 4.2 litre Series 1 roadsters having been manufactured.
While the 1968 Series 1.5 cars maintained the essential design of the Series 1 models, emission regulations caused US models to lose the Series 1 triple SU carburetors; these were replaced in the Series 1.5 by less powerful twin Zenith-Stromberg units, dropping horsepower from 265 to 246 and torque from 283 to 263.
Of the "Series 1" cars, Jaguar manufactured some limited-edition variants, inspired by motor racing:
- The "'Lightweight' E-Type" which was intended as a sort of follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, two have been converted to Low-Drag form and two others are known to have been wrecked and deemed to be beyond repair, although one has now been rebuilt. These are exceedingly rare and sought after by collectors. *The "Low Drag Coupé" was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray. In 2014, Jaguar announced its intention to build the remaining six lightweights, at a cost of approximately £1 million each.
Safety and emissions regulations in the North American market forced the Series 2 and 3 E-Types to lose "the original's purity, with a larger grille, wider wheel arches and bigger bumpers being added that distorted the (Series 1's) looks."
The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognised the significance of the E-Type's design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction. The MoMA XKE is a Series 1 roadster.