The E-type was in many ways developed from Jaguar's successful racing D-type, which had won the Le Mans race three times from 1955 to 1957. Originally intended as a racing car, the E-type eventually emerged as a road-going sports and grand touring car, although many E-types also distinguished themselves in motor racing. The style of the E-type was clearly based on the D-type, the work of the aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer.
Originally the E-type was available either as an open two-seater, or as a fastback fixed-head coupé. Both cars shared the same basic structure, a monocoque with a front subframe, and were powered by a 3.8-litre version of the proven Jaguar XK engine, developing 265bhp (gross). Four-wheel disc brakes were fitted, and for the first time Jaguar used the sophisticated independent rear suspension, developed by Bob Knight.
The E-type's looks were sensational, and it quickly became a symbol of the 1960s. Thanks to its unbeatable combination of price and performance, offering a top speed of close to 150mph (241km/h) at little more than £2000, it became an instant success, particularly in the vital American market. The E-type attracted many celebrity and VIP owners, from the world of motor racing and show business, as well as Royalty.
At the launch of the new model at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, two E-types served as press demonstrators. One of them was this car, 77 RW, built in February 1961 as the first production two-seater; it is now the oldest surviving open E-type. 77 RW was later used by The Motor for their road test, published 22 March 1961. In 2000, Mr Michael Kilgannon, the long-term owner of this historic car, kindly put 77 RW on permanent loan to the JDHT. The car was then completely restored with the generous assistance of Martin Robey Limited of Nuneaton.
Registration mark: 77 RW (24 February 1961)
Chassis number: 850003
Owner: Mr Michael Kilgannon (on permanent loan to The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust)
Inventory number: 057/J.20