Where Jag went wrong


As you might have guessed from the name, the new Jaguar F-Type is pitched as a return to sports car greatness for the firm.

The bar was set by the Le Mans winning C-Type and D-Type of the 1950s, raised higher by the glitz of the '150mph' E-Type the following decade, and then knocked off by the portly XJS from 1975. So what happened?

Dewis gives PH's Gibbs the low-down
Dewis gives PH's Gibbs the low-down
Blame the success of the E-Type, America and the stinginess of Jaguar founder William Lyons, says the company's famed former test driver Norman Dewis.

You can date the moment Jaguar swung away from its sports car path: October 13, 1956, when Jaguar officially stopped racing. "Lyons said to me one day, 'Dewis, you're spending too much time racing and not enough on production'. And that was it, we stopped," Dewis tells PistonHeads. "He would not increase the time to cope with both - he was very tight with the money."

Happily the E-type launched in 1961 was based on the race-winning D-type and kept much of that car's sporting genes. The independent rear suspension, disc brakes, that wonderfully slippery aerodynamic shape, the absence of a separate chassis - all these meant it could be called a sports car without fear of contradiction.

XJS spoke better American than English
XJS spoke better American than English
And it was hugely popular. "Everybody wanted it, especially the Americans. The Americans went barmy over it. We couldn't make enough," says Dewis.

The racers clamoured for lightweight versions and Jaguar's sporting crown stayed on.

But Lyons became dependent on the dollar. "By the time the XJS came out our main market was America - 75 per cent of production went there," says Dewis.

And that meant giving them what they asked for. "They said, although we like the E-T

ype, it's a little bit small inside. They wanted a sports car, but with automatic transmission, power steering... They controlled our style and shape."

Pretty soon the view of car buyers this side of the pond were all but dismissed. "Take brakes. I'd say they're okay for America, but we'll have to change them for Europe. He'd say, 'Dewis, I'm not bothered about Europe. Why do I need to bother about Europe?'"

New F-type will get a manual, eventually
New F-type will get a manual, eventually
These days the US is still Jaguar's number one market and yes, when it goes on sale early next year, the F-Type won't be offered with a manual gearbox. But the company has said there is a manual in development and the car certainly looks every inch how a modern Jaguar sports car should look. There was even talk last year that Jaguar might return to top-flight Le Mans racing.

Dewis is impressed. "This is getting Jaguar to where it always should be. A good saloon car and a good sports car."

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (134) Join the discussion on the forum

  • TA14 22 Nov 2012

    NRS said:
    Some of the stuff you mentioned is basically pointless - for example the chrome strip across the front would either have been covered by the licence plate, or unbalance the front visual design of it since it would have been above or below the plate.
    Merc seemed to manage it OK. The F-type has a broad badn for the plate. It would have been easy to make that a narrow chrome strip and widen and shrten the rad air intake so that the plate would fit below it but above the splitter air intake.

  • NRS 22 Nov 2012

    Pr1964 said:
    300bhp/ton I agree with you 100%


    Mercedes they did a far better job with the SLS in the details like the grill and proportions and profile.

    If Jaguar had taken the same care the F-type “Screen would be more curved” the
    “front would have a chrome strip across the centre of the grill with a Jaguar badge in the middle on the Chrome strip” and the “rear would taper in towards the rear” the “rear wings would be more rounded” and the “bonnet would have a bigger central buldge or a pair of bulges”.

    The problem is the F-type hasn’t been fully thought through from a historial design point it lacks the details which would link it back and give it credibility.

    I think my comparison with the 350z is closer except for the door handles it’s a mirror image 100% profile wise….

    It’s the details which matter and those details have been totally missed on the F-type.
    that is why it’s a F-ailure in my eyes.


    Not as bad as BL's interpretation of the Mini to Mini Metro but pretty poor.

    What they needed was Mini to Bmw Mini...

    But they've ended up with E-type to Generic Japanese...

    Edited by Pr1964 on Thursday 22 November 09:41
    The reality is it is not just refering to the E-type. For example there is references to the XJ-13 and some other models. Some of the stuff you mentioned is basically pointless - for example the chrome strip across the front would either have been covered by the licence plate, or unbalance the front visual design of it since it would have been above or below the plate. If you want a modern E-type then get an Eagle. This is a different car with references back, but the only reason is because of the name. Jaguar avoided it for a long time, but now seem to have said "stuff it" and gone for a name that will put a lot of expectation that they've run away from for a long time.

  • Vocal Minority 22 Nov 2012

    I think you may have hit the nail on the head there.

    This car is not the same sort of thing as an E Type, and using the name F Type was as much due to pressure as anything else.

    As I said in my earlier post, if you want a like for like replacement in terms of the spirit of the car and the looks of the car



    Ta dah! (And a handsome devil it is too)

  • LuS1fer 22 Nov 2012

    Pr1964 said:
    The problem is the F-type hasn’t been fully thought through from a historial design point it lacks the details which would link it back and give it credibility.

    But they've ended up with E-type to Generic Japanese...
    The issue here is not the car, it is marketing.

    Firstly, Jag have moved on.
    Secondly, this car is nothing like an E-type, more Boxster/S2000
    Thirdly, retro is over,
    So finally, this car was never an F-Type, it should never have been called F-Type but was plainly labelled as such to put the expectation to rest and hopefully get a few sales on the wave of nostalgia it might evoke but really doesn't.

    Realistically, this is an XF in nomenclature terms but the tag was gone so FKE might have worked. However, this would still have left the gupping populace lamenting the absence of a new E-Type successor....


  • renrut 22 Nov 2012

    PR - You compare the 350Z and F-type but the similarities between the ferrari 458 and maclaren are very similar also and IMO neither a looker.





    Car shapes these days are driven so much by aerodynamics, drivetrain, crash protection and other less obvious regulations like height and spacing of lights that recreating a modern E-type is likely to be the same result as when jaguar recreated the S-type - something which you considered hideous.

    Ultimately the public will decide if they like it or not. I think they will, there is a lot of goodwill towards JLR at the moment.

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