77 RW will grace the PH stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
You should never meet your heroes for fear of disappointment, the adage goes, and a brief encounter yesterday with this fabulous machine proved my worst fear about the E-Type was right.
Fully adjustable seats - 1960s style
Oddly though, I'm sort of happy to report that having struggled to thread my long and lardy frame into the E-type's cockpit yesterday, I no longer have to worry about never being able to afford one. (Although the later V12 cars are said to be roomier, and anyway, if I could I'd probably buy an E-type just to leer at it!)
Once the seat squab was removed I did manage to cram myself into the cockpit for a few blissful miles around the lanes near Goodwood House in 77 RW, the earliest surviving open E-type. The car is in West Sussex because Jaguar is generously loaning it to PistonHeads to decorate our very own show stand at the Festival of Speed, where hopefully you'll come and visit us and be able to drool over it too.
Carbon fibre is just so... plasticky
77 RW is chassis number three, and was one of two press demonstrators at the Geneva motor show in March 1961, where the E-type was launched to an awestruck public. Offering a top speed of almost 150mph from its 3.8-litre XK engine, at a (relatively!) affordable price of £2,000, it became an instant success for Jaguar and an icon of the 1960s.
In spite of its age (and an old-fashioned Moss gearbox that requires a sympathetic touch), the E-type still feels good on the road. Most notable during my potter round the lanes was the supple ride, which was comfortable even though with the seat out I was sitting on the metal floorpan. Oh, and the view over that elegant, voluptuous and utterly gorgeous bonnet.
Look, carburettors Dad! Yep, triple SUs
Here at PH Towers it feels like we've been up to our ears in Jaguar heritage for the last few weeks. As well as being treated to an early drive in the 75th Anniversary XKR special edition
, we were also invited to witness the company's starring role at this year's Le Mans 24hr preamble, where a selection of Coventry classics took part in the famous driver parade around the town before the race.
A cavalcade of Jaguar race and road cars took to the streets of Le Mans behind the racing drivers, and PH witnessed the amazingly warm welcome the locals afforded the cars from the luxurious back seat of a delightful Honey Beige Mk II saloon.
Honey beige... mmm, tasty!
Never mind the World Cup (and the performance of the US-entered XKR in the race itself), it's this sort of stuff that makes us proud to be British isn't it? Especially as the marque's contemporary models are selling in numbers that suggest Jaguar's global appeal is as strong as ever. Here's to another 75 years - at least!
Jaguar Classics at the Le Mans Parade: