The 1960s was arguably the definitive decade in British history: the Swinging Sixties. The Beatles released their debut album, Please Please Me and their subsequent British Invasion on the music industry. Fashion designer Mary Quant popularised the mini skirt and it was an era of political activism. However, before this decade of youth-driven cultural revolution came into, ahem, full swing, on the outskirts of London, the mechanical rustle of an atmospheric six-cylinder echoed through Jaguar's Coventry factory on the evening of 14 March 1961. The British motor manufacturer's then public relations manager Bob Berry started a hand-built EType fixed-head coupé prototype that Jaguar was set to display at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland the following day.
Leaving the production plant later than initially planned, Berry embarked on the 1 174 km journey from Browns Lane, driving the Opalescent Gunmetal E-Type flat out registered 9600 HP - to arrive at the Parc des Eaux-Vives on time. [The E-Type) was the only car I actually drove flat out from one end to the other of a journey, simply to get there on time, Berry recalled. He arrived with 20 minutes to spare before the unveiling of what would arguably become not only the most iconic and beautifully designed English sportscar ever built, but one of the most sought-after to ever grace the road. “It was an incredible journey, Berry said. “I've never forgotten it.”
The E-Type stole the show with its aerodynamically sculpted silhouette receiving global praise. Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari famously complimented the E-Type's design, with il Commendatore lauding the Jaguar as the most beautiful car ever made. High praise coming from the man at the helm of a company renowned for producing some of the world's most exotic and ravishing sportscars.
Designed by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer, the E-Type was one of the first seriesproduction sportscars styled with aerodynamics in mind. Form follows function, as the saying goes. Although, here, unlike some contemporary sports-, superand hypercars, the E-Type's bodywork was designed so that aerodynamic function was not at the detriment of graceful design.
Interestingly, in 1996, the E-Type became only the third motor car to be displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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