The E-type Jaguar may be one of the most iconic car designs ever produced but not everyone likes it.
Caracalla’s Alex Lawrence had a chat with people over at E-Type UK who might just persuade you to change your mind.
The first time visit to a capital city means you need to see the tourist spots you’ve seen, read or heard about. It is an unwritten rule of travelling for leisure.
Go to New York and you have to see Times Square in midtown. Go to Paris and check out the Eiffel Tower. Go to London and see the Queen. Or where she lives at least.
That’s the rule of capital city travel. Go where are supposed to go and see the sights you are supposed to see. Of course you do. It would be weird if you didn’t. I mean, you travel to London and don’t selfie with Big Ben? What are you doing?
Living in the UK, I find it strange just how many pre-conceived ideas exist about Britain and its people from those who don’t live here. I have chuckled out loud at the preposterous notion that we bathe in mustard once a week through to eye-rolling that we all live in London.
‘Hey, I know Keith. He lives in London, do you know him?’
No, my good man, I don’t but I hear he speaks highly of you to all he meets.
The New Yorker resident who busies themselves by simply living in New York is as non-plussed by people asking directions to ‘the best Kronut house’ I am sure.
On the car front, London and New York seemingly share similar attributes to the first time visitor. Landing at JFK, you enter the land of the skyscrapers shown in practically every TV and film since forever and crane your neck to see where everyone from King Kong to Superman has been before you. Peering out the window of your yellow cab, it doesn’t disappoint.
In London, you marvel at how small some of the streets are, the famous stores, railway stations and landmarks and the sheer amount of history that has happened here and it is all laid out for you to discover. Sitting in traffic in your black cab, a chatty driver will share his opinions on everything, everyone and every place you pass.
Or that is how it used to be.
Today, it can be a little bit generic. From the new architecture through to the fact that you probably used your phone to get a car to collect you at the airport, your interaction with someone who actually lives in that city can be limited.
In many countries, the capital is where the pulse of the culture is taken. That is why you think we all know Keith. And historically, that pulse was taken here. The swinging sixties, the mini dress and the E-type Jaguar are all things that you’d be forgiven that we still have in abundance over here.
I need to get something said right now so that you’re understanding of my position on one of those things. I’ve never been a fan of the E-type Jaguar. There. I’ve said it. The main reason is that I’m not overly ‘into’ sports cars. I like estates and saloons. I prefer comfort. Not that I have tried, but I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t like wearing a mini-skirt either for similar reasons. But the E-type, while I admit is pretty, always seemed fake.
It started with that mystical 155mph claim. And it was a claim as the cars could never do that speed. In a time before trading standards, no-one really questioned it and so it was an accepted truth. The coupe doesn’t look right at all to my eyes and from some angles I think it is actually ugly. The best E-type I ever saw was in the process of being destroyed at a dirt track demolition derby when I was a teenager. All dented and bits hanging off it, I can honestly say it was the first time I liked one.
In recent years many classic cars are making a comeback. There will always be the odd barn find of a small production run of cars that are super rare but the restomod scene keeps firing in the odd interesting attempt at a modern classic. Singer clearly led the way on that front and I was mesmerised by Jaguar producing some continuation XKSS cars. That is a Jaguar I do like.
So when I heard about a small band of merry men and women in the Kent countryside creating their Unleashed E-type, the cynic in me eye-rolled like a Kronut enquired native New Yorker.
Driving the car at night around London I expected we would soon be in and out of Carnaby Street. Locations with Twiggy and the Beatles washed through me and made me shiver at the thought.
‘No, this car has a dark side’ I was informed by the team. ‘A very dark side.’
First off, there’s a 6.1l engine and a five-speed manual gearbox fitted to it. Proper modern brakes, wider tyres, bespoke interior and LED running lights. All sounded interesting but what have you done to the looks? The last thing you want to have rolling up is a pile of carbage.
We met down by the millennium dome on the River Thames. The first thing I noticed was how smooth sounding the cars voice is. A proper bass baritone exhaust note that isn’t shouty at all. It hides that 440bhp creamy V12 sitting underneath that deep, dark exterior.
It is strange. I don’t like E-type Jaguars at all but I couldn’t take my eyes off this. What makes it is the way that the bits that have always irked me about the originals, have been changed, amended or deleted.
The V12 badge on the rear for example. Finished in satin black on the high gloss paint is perfectly understated. The series one red Jaguar bar sitting inside the bonnet air vent even though the majority of the car is the later series three. Perfect. The white lighting on the dials instead of the original green, simple yet refreshing. I won’t lie. I walked around and sat in the car for a little under an hour before we headed off to some suitably wrong locations.
And this is how I like to now travel around the capital cities of the world. Not to the tourist traps or the TripAdvisor rated areas. Find your own places. Speak to the locals and be interested in what they do and where they go.
We went to all the graffiti spots around London for a few hours and this E-type slotted right into place. It suits the scenery and it feels alive around it too. The car is destined for an American collector and I hope that they take it to the supposed wrong side of the tracks over there too. Take it to the dodgy looking underpasses. Hoon it around East Harlem. We took it to the back streets of London that you won’t see people Instagramming their best life from and it was brilliant.
Look how at home it is.
There are bad areas in every capital city, but don’t ignore them. Everyone who saw this car loved and respected it. Maybe because it is different and no longer the same. I still don’t really like E-types but I absolutely adore this.
The Jaguar E-type is as British as her majesty, Buckingham Palace and a cup of tea. The Unleashed Jaguar is not a historical monument about how it was. It is about how it is now. Don’t look back. We’re not going that way.