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Jaguar E-Type celebrates 50 years

Mon, 28 Feb 2011

As the Geneva motor show opens its doors to the press, it is quite apt that the Jaguar E-Type be honored by a new exhibition at the Design Museum in London, UK. Commemorating the iconic vehicle's 50th anniversary since it was first unveiled at the Swiss motoring exposition, the 'Tank' installation at the Design Museum has played host to many cars in the past, from the Model T Ford through to the Citroen C6, but none seem quite as fitting as the E-Type Jaguar.

Possibly the most infamous car to come from Coventry, the E-Type is revered as a design classic and is still admired in droves to this day. Chassis number 94 has taken up its new home in shot of Tower Bridge and will remain in the 'Tank' for passerby to see.

The E-Type's original test driver, Norman Dewis, was present at the launch of the exhibition. Having been involved in the development of 25 Jaguar models over the course of his career, Dewis still fondly remembers the day Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons instructed him to drive 600 miles through the night from Coventry to bring another E-Type model to Geneva in 1961, such was the media excitement around the new car.

The chief development test engineer at Jaguar for 36 years, Dewis recalled: "Coventry to Dover took me two hours and I completed the run to Geneva in just over 11 hours. I averaged 68mph and there were no motorways back then, so it was quite a drive."

To commemorate the historic route the first press vehicles took to Geneva across continental Europe 50 years ago, Jaguar will be hosting a re-enactment of the spirited drive on the eve of the 81st Geneva motor show.

Also accompanying Dewis at the launch was former F1 driver John Surtees, one of the first people in the UK to purchase an E-Type, with both drivers recalling fond memories of the car that took the world by storm.

Launched in 1961 at the somewhat attainable price of £2,000, the E-Type could hit a reported 150mph and proved an instant hit with celebrities of the day. Over its lifespan, some 70,000 E-Types were produced, the remaining examples becoming a fast appreciating classic.

Described as the most beautiful in the world by Enzo Ferrari, the E-Type will remain in the Tank until 6th March.

Related Links:
Design Museum, Jaguar Exhibition

By John O'Brien