Incomparable: Jaguar E-Type vs. F-Type


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Story and Photos by Tim Suddard

Can Jaguar’s Latest Compare to the Brand’s Iconic E-Type?

At first blush, comparing a modern supercar against a classic sports car is a waste of time. There is just nothing that a high-output, high-dollar, high-performance technological tour de force could have in common with a spindly wheeled, tweed-capped classic sports car built more than a half-century ago.

Unless, of course, those two cars come from such a storied brand as Jaguar.

Jaguar’s latest sportster is the F-Type, and its formula is tried and true: long hood, short deck, room for two, and plenty of power. In fact, it perfectly recalls the brand’s iconic E-Type.

So we rounded up the two machines for a face-off. In this corner, we have Jaguar’s latest, top-of-the-line F-Type SVR. And in the other is the 1965 Jaguar E-Type, the one many consider to be the high-water mark for the model line.

Fair fight? Maybe. Maybe not. It would require near perfection to knock such an icon from its pedestal.

Comparing Legacies

Many traditionalist Jaguar enthusiasts maintain that a real Jaguar must come from one of two English cities: Blackpool or Coventry. Today, Jaguars are built in Birmingham, only about 15 miles away from Coventry. Despite the short hop in distance, the nameplate has moved a million metaphorical miles from its origin.

Jaguar was born in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company. Its founders were 30-year-old William Walmsley and, 10 years his junior, William Lyons. They founded the firm with a loan of 1000 pounds secured by their fathers. Together they grew Swallow into a coachbuilder that, in 1932, released the groundbreaking SS 1 roadster.

Even after Walmsley left the partnership in 1934–and after the company adopted the Jaguar name in 1945–Jaguar remained proudly independent for decades. During this time the manufacturer released a string of hits, including the XK120 in 1948. It was the first mass-produced sports tourer that could travel north of 100 mph.

From this stunning effort, which cast Jaguar as a world-class premium sports car builder, came the roomier XK140 and then the more comfortable XK150. Lovely sedans also emerged, each based around the jewel-like twin-cam, inline-six engine.

Jaguar again shook the automotive world in the spring of 1961 with the release of the E-Type. Widely billed as the most stunning sports car ever made, this one cemented Jaguar’s place in history.

Soon after, the company’s independence ended: In 1965, Jaguar merged with British Motor Corporation. For Lyons, now well into his 60s, it was a way to ensure the brand’s future. Jaguar was spun off into a separate entity in 1984 before entering a rocky marriage with Ford six years later.

In March of 2008, Ford divested itself from Jaguar; there to pick up the pieces was Tata Motors, part of a giant Indian conglomerate dating back to 1868. Purists were horrified. Tata Motors wasn’t known for its high-end products. It turned out buses, locomotives, trucks and low-cost automobiles. It would certainly destroy the brand, Jaguar fans proclaimed.

Not so fast.

At the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, Tata shocked the auto enthusiast world with its right-sized C-X16 coupe. From this impressive prototype came the F-Type convertible in 2013, followed by the coupe in 2014.

Thanks to Tata, Jaguar had rebooted back to its roots.

The E-Type is defined by tradition: wire wheels, leather hides and that iconic inline-six.

Comparing Price

Today, the E-Type is still a legend, and its trading prices reflect that fact. A top-quality early E-Type convertible will cost you north of $175,000. Automotive Restorations is offering this one for a bit less: about $145,000.

That brings us to our first similarity. For nearly that figure, you could instead purchase a new F-Type SVR convertible. The SVR model represents the top of the F-Type lineup, and it starts at $125,000. Our fully loaded example stickered closer to $132,000.

Looking to spend less? The base F-Type convertible starts at $63,000. The lines are the same, but a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine comes standard instead of the SVR’s supercharged V8.

While E-Type prices have been steadily increasing, the years won’t be as kind to the F-Type. Kelley Blue Book says that a 3-year-old, entry-level F-Type roadster in very good condition is worth less than $50,000. That price should only sink as time marches on. The F-Type quickly becomes the better deal, but in the long run, the E-Type is likely the better investment.

Comparing Concepts

To compare these cars any further, you need to take yourself back to March 1961, the time of the E-Type’s public debut in Geneva. A young John F. Kennedy had just been sworn into office, the first manned trip to outer space was a month out, and Pete Best still drummed for The Beatles.

And then came the E-Type. Just 15 years earlier, the typical British sports car wore cycle fenders and an upright radiator. The E-Type presented the day’s jet-fueled dreams in sheetmetal form. It was long, low and changed everything about sports cars.

The E-Type quickly became a cultural icon. Jan and Dean, among others, sang about it. Movie stars drove it. Either you had one or you wanted one.

Half a century later, the F-Type arrived to a different landscape. The brand’s future was uncertain, and buyers seeking a top-tier sports car could choose from any number of offerings.

But like its predecessor, the F-Type made a statement: Jaguar could still produce an iconic machine that runs with the day’s best. Different day, similar impact.

The F-Type applies a modern take to Jaguar values. Again, it's a fast, comfortable machine.

Comparing Looks

Enzo Ferrari called the E-Type the most beautiful car ever made. That’s about as good as it gets.

Even today, the E-Type’s looks continue to turn heads. We recently drove one to dinner and parked it within sight of our table. Without fail, almost everyone passing by took notice. Some shot it a quick glance; others gave it a full inspection. The Jeep parked beside it received no such recognition.

The F-Type is taller and wider than the E-Type, but the family resemblance remains. It looks like a Jaguar, not a contemporary machine wearing a Porsche, Ferrari or Corvette badge. The nose is still long, the deck is still short, and the look is still purposeful.

We should double back to that word “contemporary,” though. The F-Type looks like a modern supercar, including the requisite scoops, bulges and LED lamps. In 50 years, how will that age? We’d have to give the nod to the E-Type’s timeless shape.

Comparing Specs

At their debut, both cars represented the pinnacle of sports car technology, but the E-Type’s has yellowed a bit over the years. When Jaguar unleashed the model, its state-of-the-art features included independent front and rear suspension plus an overhead-camshaft, six-cylinder engine that could belt out more than 250 horsepower. Today, those specs sound like they belong to a new Toyota Camry. Actually, we should note that the V6-powered Camry makes more power from less displacement.

The F-Type also represents the pinnacle of modern sports car technology: an efficient, super-high-output engine powering a cutting-edge chassis. Our F-Type SVR came equipped with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 575 horsepower. Backing it is an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. These specs allow it to race from zero to 60 mph in a mind-shattering 3.5 seconds, about half what the E-Type requires.

Then there’s the optional carbon disc brakes, traction control, dual-zone climate control, variable power steering, and all of the other expected, modern touches. These creature comforts help explain why the F-Type weighs 3700-plus pounds, more than a new Corvette but less than a modern SL-class Mercedes-Benz.

So, which do you prefer: the latest microprocessors or something that you can tune with a screwdriver and a Uni-Syn?

Comparing the Driving Experience

Both cars deliver memorable driving experiences, but they go about doing so quite differently.

The E-Type’s interior is well finished, yet businesslike: lots of black with just the right dashes of chrome and wood. It’s subtly classy–not overwhelmingly opulent, but still timeless. Then there’s the view over that long hood.

Pull the choke, push the starter button, and that legendary inline-six barks to life. A well-sorted E-Type is a quick car even by modern standards. It feels light and agile. Its 265 horsepower may not sound like much today, but few sports cars back then offered more–just Cobras, Corvettes and a couple other specials.

Off the line, the E-Type pulls hard all the way through the gears. Not until it reaches interstate speeds do you wonder why it doesn’t have an overdriven fifth gear.

The handling is predictable but, in all fairness, doesn’t deliver the same grip offered by the newer Jaguar. Those old, skinny tires can only do so much.

Although the E-Type falls behind in the cornering department, it is the clear winner when it comes to ride quality. The SVR’s suspension may be fine for the track, but it feels too harsh on the Northeast roads that hosted this face-off. (We wonder if a less radical F-Type would make a more comfortable tourer.)

The F-Type delivers the goods when it comes to acceleration, though. If the E-Type is quick, the F-Type is a spacecraft in warp drive. The newer car’s heft is noticeable off the line, but the moment that supercharger kicks in, hell’s bells, you just need to hold on. In fact, Jaguar says that the SVR is the fastest production car it has ever offered. Top speed is 200 mph for the coupe and 195 for the convertible.

Which Would We Buy?

If you’re shopping for a premium new car, don’t buy a Porsche, Audi or BMW without strolling through your local Jaguar dealer. The new F-Type is just that good, and Jaguar only sells a few hundred copies of the SVR each year.

While some depreciation is inevitable, especially with the more standard F-Types, we are seeing increasing values for certain modern, rare supercars. Witness the Ford GT, McLaren F1 and several limited-edition Porsches. The rub, of course, is that we don’t know when that bump will happen. Based on experience, we expect the open cars to eventually fetch more than the coupes.

If you’re a classic car customer, don’t buy anything in the $100,000-plus price range without checking out E-Types. Sure, you should have been there yesterday when they were half the current prices, but there’s a reason these cars have gone up in value. They are true blue-chip collectibles, offering everything from pedigree and performance to iconic looks and a thrilling driving experience.

Our choice? Instead of buying just one of our test cars, we might wait a few years for the market to come to us. If we time things correctly, we figure, we can get a deal on an E-Type coupe and then use the change for a used, standard-issue F-Type roadster.

Sources:

Automotive Restorations, Inc.
(203) 377-6745
automotiverestorations.com

Jaguar Land Rover North America
jaguarusa.com

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Comments
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crgrbrts
crgrbrts
8/1/18 5:02 p.m.

Though the F-Type is undoubtedly light years ahead technologically (and in terms of crash worthiness), the E-Type is still immeasurably more beautiful. The E-Type is a work of high industrial art. The F-Type is -- well -- a car.

ClearwaterZ
ClearwaterZ New Reader
8/1/18 5:59 p.m.

Always loved the beautiful body lines of the “C”, “D” and E-Type. Not so much in love with the maintenance and cost issues associated with longer term ownership. The F-Type has the elements of the Classic Body styling that really appealed to me. First Sports/GT in decades that I decided to go buy.

 

Went to the local JAG Dealership - picked out a White Coupe and sat inside. Almost at once the thrill was gone. Drivers door window ledge was about even with the top of my left shoulder, the rear deck area was so high I couldn’t recline the seat more than a few degrees. The center console took way too much room out of the passenger and floor space. In short I felt like I was shoe-horned into a Formula 1 cockpit instead of a Sports - Grand Touring car. 

 

So to this day I look at the F-Type and its beautiful body styling - and wish it had been about 7/8’s its current size, with the room, comfort and cargo capacity a 240Z had. So like so many others you mentioned - I’ll always stop and admire that beautiful body…but now knowing the beauty to my eye is only skin deep.

mikecortina
mikecortina New Reader
8/1/18 6:31 p.m.

Well I'm confused....there is no compairing these two Jags.They are from different centuries.

Britbiker1
Britbiker1
8/3/18 2:33 a.m.

The E and  F Types are both nice cars but if you can't pick a winner, take a look at the XK8.  Gorgeous bodywork, modern drivetrain and very affordable.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/5/18 7:36 a.m.

BritBiker1, I have been becoming more and more intrigued with the XK8. I think these cars desever a bit more of our attention.

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
8/5/18 3:43 p.m.

I think the F type is the most beautiful modern car. And the v8 is one of the most beautiful automotive sounds you'll experience. If I had 70k I'd buy a used F type R with no second thoughts. 

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan SuperDork
8/6/18 6:39 p.m.

Xk8?   Didn't someone joke around this parts some years ago concerning the looks?  As in 'nice Taurus coupe/convertible you got there.'  They were also so thick on the ground at one time they never grabbed me especially.  indecision

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/19/18 6:27 p.m.

nutherjrfan,

The XK8 was an iffy $80,000 car. It is a pretty compelling $8000 car!

 

Greg Smith
Greg Smith HalfDork
8/20/18 2:11 p.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard :

Dang. yeah, I see that it's right in the "compete with used convertible Mustangs" pricing segment. 

I'm sure the running cost for an XK8 is WAY more than an NC or ND Answer... but much more head turning in the right color. 

Did any XK8 models come with a manual transmission? Hmmmmmm.

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