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Car Tales: Jaguar XKE - A Car They Had To Name Twice

‘The Jaguar XKE is such an utterly unique car it is almost impossible not to feel reverent before it. So unique, in fact, is this car that they named it twice: in the UK, where they originally were manufactured (1961-1974) they are called E-types, but in the USA they are known as XKEs. As the Beverly Hills Car Club is in the USA, that is what we will term it: the Jaguar XKE!
‘And the XKE is such a visual piece of art that it comes as no surprise that on its release on 15 March 1961 Enzo Ferrari, a man who should certainly know his onions, called the XKE ‘the most beautiful car ever made‘. Hardly surprising: the XKE seemed like the fulfillment of a long-held dream – not only was it a road-going racing car, but one with an utterly futuristic design. It looked almost as much like a spacecraft as an automobile.

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‘Approximately 67,000 cars were produced of the several XKE models. Over the years Beverly Hills Car Club has had a reasonable amount of them: these have ranged from fully restored cars, to daily drivers, to barn finds that require full restoration. I vividly recall the time a few years back when a very well-known rock star bought three XKEs from me: one that was in immaculate as-new condition and a pair that would fulfill for many months his hobby of recreating classic cars.
‘Of course, the XKE’s predecessor, the Jaguar XK150, was a stunning and visually poetic piece of automotive romance. But the XK150’s demise came about due to the great success, a winner for three consecutive years beginning in 1955, of the Jaguar D-type at the annual Le Mans 24-hour road race.
‘Accordingly, Jaguar’s team was given the brief of using D-type style construction to build a road-going sports car. The XKE copied the novel racing design principle of the D-type: a front subframe carrying the engine, front suspension and front bodywork bolted directly to the body tub. As no ladder frame chassis was therefore required, the first cars weighed only 2900 lbs (1315 kgs). Moreover, the XKE would stand a full seven inches lower than the XK150.
‘Based on the D-type, the XKE had a race-proven twin-cam engine with three carburetors, a four-speed gearbox, fully independent suspension, all-wheel disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering. It also had a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds – an early review described driving the XKE at below 110 mph as ‘loitering’! Moreover, it could happily take quite-steep corners at speed. That is one of the aspects of the XKE I love so much. They are such fun to drive, and at the same time refined and docile. On the freeway they simply move along. But I simply adore their confident cornering.
‘There were several variants of the XKE Jaguar. In 1961 the 3.8-liter E-type, in open two-seater form and billed as the 150 m.p.h. Jaguar, took the Geneva Motor Show by storm. It was an instant sales success.
‘In 1964 there was a further XKE version, with an all-synchro-mesh gearbox, and the engine capacity increased to 4.2-liters. In March 1966 a 2 + 2 coupé was added to the E-type range. Modifications included an increased length of nine inches and a higher windscreen.
‘At the 1968 Motor Show the Series 2 XKE was introduced, with revised styling: even the row of switches on the facia were replaced with tumbler-type controls. These revisions brought Jaguar’s great sports car up to date in respect of American safety trends.
‘And in 1971 the long-awaited twelve-cylinder engine was introduced by Jaguar. The V12 XKE was not a new car; rather it was a fine new power unit using the former details and running gear. These series 3 Jaguar XKEs were manufactured until 1974.
‘Right now at the Beverly Hills Car Club we have a gorgeous and highly desirable 1973 Jaguar XKE Roadster, in Signal Red with a sand beige interior. The series 3 XKE provides a little more leg-room and a cozier interior than the Series 2. The vehicle comes equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission, 5.3-liter engine, air conditioning, power steering, soft top, boot, 4-wheel disc brakes, white line tires, and wire wheels. An amazing color combination E-Type Roadster with matching numbers that is mechanically sound.
‘I have taken it for a few runs: check out my Instagram post above.
‘There is no question about twelve-cylinder Jaguar motoring being travel of a most effortless kind.
-Alex Manos, Owner

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