(first posted 4/25/2015)
Muscle Cars to Malaise Era – Part 4
The transition years, 1969-1974
After putting so many American cars through the transition trial, I think it’s time to examine that British sports car icon, the Jaguar E-Type. Yes, the symptoms of Malaise were not limited to our native brands, nor to muscle cars and personal luxury cars. While European and Japanese automakers found their stride in the 70s building sales on the newfound demand for lighter, fuel-efficient autos, all car companies were subject to the same economic, social, and environmental challenges.
1971-1975 Jaguar E-Type Series 3
The original 1961 E-Type Series 1 was a revolution in sports car design. The shape was elegant, lithe, and exotic.
With half the car’s slinky overall length devoted to the bonnet, it was hardly a paragon of space efficiency, but that wasn’t the point. The shape was a direct descendant of the C and D-Type race cars. An extravagant dash to axle ratio housed the 3.8 liter six-cylinder carried over from the XK 150, but otherwise it was a clean sheet design. The XK models had been highly competitive throughout the 1950s, but it was time for a refresh.
The performance stats were superb for the day, but this discussion is about styling. If the E-Type isn’t in your top five most beautiful cars of all time, you might need to see your optometrist. Consider the lovely details, from the glass covered headlights, (later stupidly outlawed by new US regulations), to the delicate yet fierce grill, to the perfectly rounded rump. The chrome bumpers hugged the beautiful body as though they were in love. And who could blame them? The thin roof pillars are sweet, and isn’t it refreshing to see a nearly vertical windscreen? This was how it used to be done. Consider the windshields of these 1960s era sports cars – MG, Corvette, Cobra, Porsche 911, and Ferrari 275. When you have a more upright windshield, it allows you to devote more space to the hood without making the overall length excessive. Nearly every modern car today, from economy cars to hyper-exotics, sports a windshield angle more laid back than an Evergreen College freshman. This is fine, it is an obvious styling cue that conveys speed. But now that everyone is doing it it’s no longer a standout design attribute, and I find myself noticing the cars with a more upright greenhouse.
The man largely responsible for the design, Malcolm Sayer, languished in obscurity. Perhaps this was because Britain didn’t celebrate its designers the way Italy and America did in the 50s and 60s. Sayer was an excellent mathematician and aerodynamic expert who had worked in the aircraft industry. But according to this BBC article, his technical sensibilities may have rendered him difficult to understand. Perhaps with better PR, he would have been as well-known as Bill Mitchell or Sergio Pininfarina. But lest you think him a cold, analytical fish, he was also an amateur musician, cartoonist and watercolor painter, and could be very witty.
In Sayer’s mind, the beauty of his cars was a product of a strictly rational and scientific design process. However, Sir William Lyons also lent his refining hand to the E-Type. He slightly altered the basic contours to make the light line fall in an unbroken stream across those sexy curves. This is one of the most emotional and evocative shapes ever, automotive or otherwise, and I suspect Lyons finishing touch and eye for detail had a lot to do with it. If you have an hour to kill, do watch this excellent History Channel documentary about the E-Type.
Sayer’s goal was to create a visual representation of aerodynamic science at its most pure. So how exactly was this achieved in the days before wind tunnels and computer aided design? According to the BBC article, “The prototypes were given a special road test which involved large tufts of wool being taped to the body and Sayer would then drive alongside and monitor how the wool was affected by the airflow over the chassis.” And when Lyons’s touch was applied, Sayer was there to make sure none of the alterations harmed the aerodynamic purity.
As the 70’s dawned, Jaguar had to make some major updates to the E-Type in order to keep it in compliance with the new emissions control and safety standards.
I skipped over a detailed breakdown of the unofficial Series 1 1/2 and the Series 2 of 1969-1971. Although at least two deleterious design changes happened in with the Series 2 – the loss of the beautiful headlight covers and the tail lights hanging below the bumper, this isn’t enough to warrant transition status. It was an accumulation of design changes on the Series 3 that make that one the “T-Generation”. The new 5.3 V-12 was the big news up front, accompanied by a larger grill and tacked-on scoop to feed it more air. In fact, “more” sums up the Series 3’s evolution. The shorter 96″ wheelbase was dropped and both coupe and convertible ran with the 105″ length. The coupe was now only available in 2+2 layout, as the E-Type graduated to be more of a grand touring machine than pure sports car. Even though the new E was tiny compared to nearly every other contemporary American car, it did grow about 600 lbs fatter. Plus it sprouted those unfortunate giant rubber bumper over-riders, front and rear by ’74. But consider the bumpers on a ’74 Camaro – it could have been a lot worse.
Still, it wasn’t all bad news. The V-12 restored performance lost with the Series 2, and it was smoother and more refined, if not to say broughamy. The track was wider, which one could consider a beneficial performance car attribute, while the suspension, steering, tires, and brakes were all improved. As this was now essentially a ten-year old design, Jaguar had time to tweak the inherent flaws present in the Series 1 and 2 cars. Unfortunately, by relying exclusively on the V-12 they also introduced new problems, like having no fuel efficient alternative to deal with the ’73 oil embargo. The first E-Type was quite light, under 3000 lbs, and could get over 20 MPG.
Sadly, the world had moved on, baby. And as we all know, the 1970s presented formidable obstacles to cars whose engineering bones were built years before. Some important enthusiast cars did get their start in the 1970s, like the BMW 2002, the Datsun 240Z (ironically a brilliant Japanese version of the E-Type), and the Mazda RX-7. But they were designed from the inside out to meet that dark decade’s safety, environmental, and economic challenges. I can’t think of a performance car from the 1960 that survived without having its character substantially altered. Yes, hallowed marques like the Corvette, 911, and Firebird continued to offer something for the performance minded buyer. But they all had to go through significant changes through the years, and in fairness benefitted from vastly greater engineering resources. Jaguar simply wasn’t a modern company, the 1968 British Leyland merger made a hash of operations, and when Sir William Lyons retired in 1972, there was no one left to protect the delicate kitty. The E-Type became too obsolete to adapt, and so was quietly euthanized by 1975, to usher in the next phase in British luxury motoring.
Did Jaguar truly enter the Malaise Era in ’75 with the XJ-S?
That plucky, British spirit may have been bowed, but was not broken by the bumbling British Leyland bunch. The XJ-S was controversial upon launch, owing to the E-Type purists who were wishing for a reincarnation of the original classic. If Datsun was building a two-seat inline six cylinder sports car, a veritable copy of the original E-Type, why couldn’t Jaguar? They even managed to make the Z reliable and practical. Without analyzing Jaguar’s product planning strategy in the 70s, I would guess that they felt as a luxury brand they had to follow the market. Their target customer was now older, richer, and while they may have had fond memories of racing E-Types at their local tracks in the 60s, they weren’t the ones buying all those 240Zs. Time to move on, and up.
They had only released the V-12 a few years prior, and it was already acknowledged as a fine GT motor. Given the tremendous bonnet on the XJ-S, it is safe to say this one was designed around the engine. All dimensions increased, but it was still a low, low, 49.6″ tall. Typically, the British auto press gave it rave reviews, while others were disappointed that it was larger and heavier than the Series 3. But this was clearly not a replacement for the E-Type, it was a grand touring machine in the European tradition. Although with a curb weight pushing 4000 lbs, could one say it was a sort of British Monte Carlo? And I’m not referring to the city or the race.
Still, with the V-12 it was one of the fastest cars in a straight line for 1975, faint praise though that may be. Americanized cars did 0-60 in about 8 seconds, nothing to brag about in 2015, but back then a Corvette was lucky to hit that on a good day. Of course it drank oil fields whole, but this is supposed to be a discussion about styling. What was the rationale for the shape? Apparently, Malcom Sayer had started penning the XJ-S in the 1960s, but died suddenly in 1970. Perhaps his original vision wasn’t realized in the final production model, similar to what happened at Chrysler when Virgil Exner suffered his heart attack with all the full-size models still in clays. Chaos reigned at Jaguar then, with scant resources due to the parent company British Leyland seeming to wish that Jaguar would just die already. Perhaps they felt the company’s efforts should have been directed towards further development of the Austin Princess.
The flying buttress roof is undoubtedly the most controversial design feature, although I rather like it. It lacks ultimate harmony with the rest of the shapes, but certainly is distinctive when considered in isolation. The biggest problem is relationship with the rear quarter windows and large blank filler panel. It looks like Sayer had some other vision that wasn’t realized, and they finally had to finish the damn thing because as usual, Jaguar was a few years behind schedule. The revised side windows that appeared in 1992 present a cleaner, more finished approach, but it was well clear of the Malaise era by that point.
Moving around to the front end, this is one of those European imports that looked much better with the composite halogen headlamps, rather than the dual quad units foisted upon the US market. But that was hardly Jaguar’s fault, and they did as good a job with the conversion as Mercedes did with the SL or BMW with the E24 coupe. I do think that Porsche’s popup headlight design for the 928 was more innovative and they didn’t have to waste resources coming up with 2 different solutions.
Looking back on all the cars I’ve analyzed so far, the E-Type / XJ-S really does shine in comparison. Even though it was clearly a victim of the times, who wasn’t? And suppose for a moment that the XJ-S was judged on its own merits, rather than by wistful memories for a car who’s time had come and gone. Were people actually pining for the E-Type or a bygone era that was simpler and more fun? Compared with the Mercedes SL, Porsche 928, BMW 635CSi and in a stretch the Corvette, it had bags of character and British charm. But the XJ-S lasted almost 21 years. All the competing cars had relatively long lives, due to their high development costs and low volume. The respective companies had to wring the most out of their respective halo car platforms to help amortize the tooling. But while the 928 had 18 continuous production (1977-1995), the Jag evolved and improved, (albeit with substantial re-engineering), from 1975-1996. If one must hang the Malaise label on it, I think it applies only to the early years. It was and is a fantastically interesting and distinctive motorcar.
See all my other posts at my blog, Wired On Cars. It’s about car culture; the focus is on car shows, car museums and car design. But all things automotive are fair game.
The E-type is beautiful, but the thing that keeps it off my Top 5 List is that it looks too much like a schlong. I’ll take an XJ6 over an E any day.
The XJ-S so disappointed me as a teenager. It struck me as pandering and cynical, even if I didn’t know those words at the time…a collage of unrelated elements cobbled together, like a British Cordoba. It was no surprise to me that it quickly was adopted by folks who couldn’t tell the difference between design inspiration and design desperation, a.k.a. suburban hairdressers and real estate agents.
But I have to admit to disliking them a little less now, and the blue one in your fourth photo is the best looking one I have ever seen. And I think the American quad headlights fit the car much, much better than the foggy goggle Euro units.
I’ve enjoyed your muscle-to-malaise analysis, and hope it continues!
Thanks for the kudos, mFred. I only have two more models that fit my criteria for muscle to Malaise transition. The ’68-’70 Olds Toronado and the ’69-’72 Ford Galaxie / LTD.
You should extend the Galaxie roasting to 1975. I think they axed it after that.
’66-’68 is peak, ’69-’72 is transition, and ’73-’78 is malaise.
BTW, I love your idea about it being a roast! Someone else mentioned that a while back. It might have been funny to try and write it that way, but a bit contrived.
Getting older makes a difference on views about cars, especially on boulevard cruisers.
It is a pretty car but you are correct it does look too much like a schlong to me also. It reminds me of the sports car Peter Griffin bought in an episode of Family Guy.
Not that there’s anything wrong with “schlong”.
Monte Carlo? With its flying buttresses, it’s obviously the British Charger. “I dare say the Duke lads gave the constable quite a humiliation on the road, what?” I’ve actually come to prefer the quad round lights over the Euro blocks on this car.
Now someone needs to do a speculative post about the British version of the Dukes of Hazard. Imagine the pilot. Maybe Bo, Luke, and Daisy somehow ended up in Coventry and had to run bootleg warm beer in a clapped out ’77 XJ-S. Less logical plots made it on air.
I am surprised by two votes for the Americanized headlights on the XJ-S.
Just some good old chaps…
With its flying buttresses I’d say the British 71-73 Cougar. I’d say the designs have about the same cohesiveness.
Ah, of course! *Smacks Head* And they are both cats. Perfect analogy.
“The original 1961 E-Type Series 1 was a revolution in sports car design. The shape was elegant, lithe, and exotic.”
maybe that’s what people thought back then, but all I see is something with horribly awkward proportions. A Chrysler Sebring looks better than this piece of British junk.
I mean, it’s like American cars of the 1950s. some people fawn over them and crow about how “they were real cars! but all I see is garish, over-wrought affronts to the senses. People thought those huge tailfins actually looked good?
Well, Enzo Ferrari called it, “The most beautiful car ever made.” Source: Classic Car Review 1964
Given that the E-Type offends your design sensibilities, I am curious what you consider to be an attractive, well-designed sports car?
There are always few nice convertibles finding buyers and sometimes they come with few extra options at a bargain price, including turbos.
But obviously a lot of people feel otherwise.
If you are proposing that the Chrysler LeBaron convertible is as attractive as the Jaguar E-Type, I think that would make for a very engaging debate.
But I suspect you simply commented on the wrong blog entry. 🙂
Just two parallel worlds as the matter of attractive.
But personally I will very unlikely take one, unless with good sense of humor ( like in an upscale vintage car show a mint ’83 Escort wagon without AC popped up with ’50s Cadillac )
well, I’m not Enzo Ferrari and I’m not bound by what he thought. Design is subjective, you can’t dictate how people receive it.
Yes, design is subjective, but I suspect that if you were to ask 1000 randomly sampled people if they thought the E-Type was a beautiful design, the vast majority would say yes.
I’m AM surprised by the number of people who have weighed in against it here, expressing their preference for the XJ-S.
As a car-crazy teen when the XJ-S came out, I always hated it. It was a HUGE step backwards, aesthetically, yet another Leyland fail. With looks like that, I wouldn’t have cared how well it drove.
I can’t disagree.
There is a proportion issue with the E-type. However, just like a large nose or eyes set too wide, the E-type is like an imperfect human face. The imperfection IS the beauty.
Not for me but I get it.
Excellent analysis. I think its unfair for the author of that BBC article to say that Sayer languished in obscurity. I have been reading the British classic car mags since the mid 1980s and Sayer has always been acknowledged for his enormous contribution to Jag’s racing and E-type success. I struggle to think of an aerodynamics-based stylist who has earned more recognition – apart from Dr. Kamm.
Jag purists always decry the XJS as simply an XJC replacement, but the truth is that it’s really a continuation of the S3 E-type – a slightly bloated 2+2 tourer (with its own racing provenance). The buyer to whom the original E-type would have appealed had moved on to the Dino and 911.
Whilst i’m not fully in agreement with jz78817, I’ve never felt the swoon over the E-type that most others have. It’s a shape that sort of appeals to my head, but not my heart.
Perhaps they meant relative to other household name car designers like Bill Mitchell and Sergio Pininfarina, or even Jay Mays or Chris Bangle more recently. I love car design, and while I’m constantly researching and reading about the topic, I didn’t recognize his name. It sounded vaguely familiar, but if you had asked me who designed the E-Type my first guess would have been Sir William Lyons.
The irony is that Sergio wasn’t a stylist like his father. He was an industrialist with a great eye. If you want to dig deeper, look up Frank Costin’s work on early Lotus cars; in some ways just as significant as Sayer.
this was my prettiest matchbox car the xke was lovely dark red until three years of play had the paint plumb worn off shouldve put in a warranty claim!
I think the original E-type is probably the most beautiful sports car design – ever. It had plenty of problems with reliability and practicality but it wasn’t even the priciest car around when it was introduced. Many designs have come and gone since, but the E-type remains as a true icon. And yes, we are all entitled to our opinions and preferences.
The only other car that comes close is the Ferrari 365 GTB. The old “crumpet catcher” is still number one.
Bravo! The XK-E was by anyone’s standards one of the most beautiful cars produced in the late 20th century, but alas, too impractical and “classic” for me to have any direct contact with. In the 80’s however my father caught the bug and came rolling home with a slightly used ’85 XJ-S V12 coupe in lipstick red over saddle. Having spent many lustful hours in the passenger seat of that car, I still pine for one. It was later “upgraded” to a ’89 XJ-S convertible. That coupe, though, was THE car in my mind. It sparked a to-date passion for British roadsters and GT’s that led me at that time to a couple of consecutive MG’s and a strong desire to acquire a Triumph GT6 that has yet to be fulfilled. “Broughamy” or not, if ever there was a car that inspired me it was the XJ-S coupe. Sadly, as a lead-footed undergrad during those years I never got my hands on the keys to any of the 3 family jags, but one of these days..
I wasn’t particularly attracted to the XKE as a kid, and especially not after the gorgeous Corvette Stingray came out in 63. I guess I’m in the minority, but I’ve always liked the XJ-S – it seemed thoroughly sleek and modern when it debuted. I agree with the author about the problems with the American headlight configuration and the trim around the flying buttress. I also disliked the almost fragile-looking T-bar shifter used in the early years. Otherwise, what a cool car.
I recall Tom McCahill, the automotive columnist in Mechanix Illustrated, once commented that “the Jaguar can give away 100 cubic inches (and two cylinders) and still stomp all over a Corvette.”
Yes, the Jaguar XKE always impressed me as a beautiful car, lIke a woman, but had to be handled properly to get the most out of it. Talked with an owner and he commented the car had character…..and lots of idiosyncranies and expensive to maintain, but he loved the car.
I was about five when the XK-E first appeared, and about seven when the split-window ‘Vette was born. For the rest of my childhood, these twin beauties (I loved them both and coudn’t pick a favorite if I had to) were the two sports cars against which I judged all others. To this day, I don’t think anything has ever topped either one. Of course, what one loves as a small child has a way of besting everything that comes after.
I would gladly take one if XJS is a bit more reliable and parts are more readily available ( in Atlanta, Mi for example, where getting a part from Europe always sounds too exotic ) otherwise it would serve me in the same way as my Lincoln Mark VIII. ( large, comfortable premium coupe with absolute unique sheet metal at a reasonable mpg like 24+ on hwy )
but I found it hard to think of any replacement: 1, all coupe offerings from Jaguar shrinks after XJS, dimensionally a bit and visually a lot 2, no offerings from German are big enough any close neither visually nor dimensionally 3, current offerings from US are not big enough, CTS coupe shares half of the car with sedan model and Challenger doesn’t come with tan interior with wooden dashboard 4, such thing never exists from Japan maybe except those Mitsuoka 5, I don’t want to take a ride like that from Soviet generals 6, I hope they will make more Lancia Florida
7, or a Citroen SM, but probably the technology is enough to cover all subjects and projects for graduate lessons majoring automotive engineering.
When I was a kid in the 70s, a guy in my neighborhood had a nearly new XJS in his driveway. I thought it was the coolest car ever. After awhile I noticed that it never moved from it’s spot in the owner’s driveway. Years went by and it deteriorated before my eyes. I think the last time I saw it was 2005! Gone now but it was a cool neighborhood landmark! I will bet it was sidelined for need of repairs…
Both are beautiful cars but the E type is the best looker.Thank you for a great read
Ah, a nice write-up for a rather divisive vehicle. I… Actually like these. Crazy, yes I know. But the reason why I like the XJ over the E-type is more a matter of the final product. The greatest things in life all have their flaws. We see the flaws, and we appreciate the… well, not perfections, but the positive aspects. We appreciate the positive aspects a little more. Having a fully perfect thing — whatever it may be — is in itself imperfect because there is no negative, nothing to balance it out, nothing to make the villain. The E-type was perfect in terms of what it was created for. A British coupe with serene beauty and an understated strength that far outdid the pompousness of its contemporaries. The XJ on the other hand, is like the local baron’s son. He drinks at the tavern, seduces the bar wenches, but is a supreme gentleman and of noble and chivalrous mannerisms. It was fast, it was loose, and was beautiful. I dare say that while the E-type is stuck in the 1960s in design, the XJ looked quite at home even in its final years in the 1990s. It looked the part, it played the part… And we forgave it for slapping the behind of Ellen the milk maid because it was still of noble blood and still useful to us after all that time. Sorry about the comparisons, I’ve been rereading my old Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman books.
I remain convinced that people would feel more charitably toward the XJ-S had Jaguar actually been able to launch the F-type in the early ’70s as originally planned. The XJ-S wasn’t supposed to be an E-type replacement; there was a separate plan for an E-type successor (which would have been smaller, sleeker, and lighter) that didn’t make it for lack of funds. Had the latter appeared, the XJ-S would probably still have been somewhat controversial because of its styling, but there wouldn’t have been the same constant unfair comparisons. Alas…
I’ve been watching The Persuaders on you tube, that Aston Martin that Roger Moore drives sure can be considered a muscle car. Great footage of that car & a Dino in exotic locations.
Speaking of the Persuaders, we couldn’t forget the race they do in the very first episode. 😉
Good read, I have to side with a few commenters though that the E-type doesn’t make my top 5 most beautiful cars list(or even top 10). I think it’s an incredible design with the context of the times it came from, sports cars still kind of had a prewar look to them until this point, even the vaunted XK120. The E-Type was really the car that invented the truly exotic car, there were plenty of cars that were incredibly expensive, and incredibly fast before it, but few that really took styling to such impractical and lustful levels, it opened the gate for cars like the Lamborghini Miura, street Ferraris that were designed for the racetrack that weren’t just reshapes of the Pininfarina Florida, the Mangusta and Pantera, and literally every high end exotic supercar to follow.
It’s a design I consider very important, definitely the top 5 most important, but to my eye it just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t like the massive dash to axle ratio, the proportions are comically phallic (it and a 58 Edsel parked nose to nose would be X rated!). To me personally I find the XJ/S more appealing simply because it’s more grounded, it looks like an uber coupe rather than a space ship or an art sculpture so many E-Type inspired Exotic cars emulate. I never really knew about the methods used to make the car aerodynamic in the pre-wind tunnel days, it’s pretty fascinating and neat how they did it, but alas that is also partially why I don’t hold it on a pedestal, as I find math and physics minded car designs incredibly boring. Have an artist pen the car and put the engineering where it belongs – where I can’t see it.
I have somehow ended up with a few XJS models, a 6 cylinder convertible and a few V-12 coupes. I even did an LT1 conversion one coupe, which turned out to be a lot more difficult than I was led to believe, even with a conversion kit. I was not all that interested in the XJS when it came out, but over time I have come to appreciate it. The XJS was ironically somewhat of a success, in that almost 100,000 were ultimately produced, which is pretty extraordinary for an expensive twelve cylinder luxury GT car. Of course, it took almost 20 years, and it was only because the factory didn’t have the funds to tool up for a proper replacement. Since I acquired my first one (taken in as collateral by a bail bondsman who just wanted to get rid of it), which has to be at least ten years ago, I have read everything I can find about this model. I must say that I was gritting my teeth when I started to read your article, but you have written the first objective and I would say accurate analysis of this car that I have ever seen in American media. Of course, in the Olde Country they have started restoring and even re-manufacturing the XJS for a few years now. While it will never have the cachet of the E-type it is a desirable model and has finally reached collector status. Actually, many cars we consider collectibile today took 30 or 30 years to get there, so this really isn’t so unusual after all. Thank you for taking the time to get it right.
I well remember an XK-E book sneering at the 240Z as a “cheap Japanese copy.” I could just hear the author thinking, “How presumptuous of those unimaginative Japs, don’t they know their place?”
For a nation supposedly deficient in creativity, as we were smugly reminded during the ’80s hysteria over “Japan Inc.,” they sure come up with a lot of crazy inventions like body-length umbrellas & smart toilets. And how about the global market for manga? Even the French are imitating that.
I haven’t seen many comments, if any, about the transition car itself. Are there any opinions about the Series 3? Has anyone ever driven one? It was actually a pretty important car, introducing the 5.3 V-12 that was the defining Jaguar engine for many years to come. The XJ didn’t get it until 1972.
I suppose the ‘transition car’ showed us the way Jaguar was going under the dead hand of Leyland. The changes coarsened the look of the car, taking away the design purity of the original. It was as though the guys doing the facelift (or more likely the managers supervising) just didn’t comprehend what they were working on, and just knew it had to look different.
That grille, for example: could you see Enzo putting that on a Ferrari? Of course not! It looked like someone cut down an oven rack and shoved it in the hole. The flared wheel arches, while very neatly done, can’t have improved the aerodynamics. And as for those wheels and hubcaps, words fail me.
There, you have an opinion! 🙂
I think Jaguar weathered the storm extremely well, all things considered. The only reason the later cars were controversial at all is because fans of the original were truly fanatics in the proper sense of the word. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but you always end up with strong and kind of ridiculous opinions in that case – and everyone has them for cars they’re more intimately involved with.
Personally, I love all of them – Series I/II, III and XJ-S. What the S3 gives up to the earlier XK-Es in sporting pedigree and elegance becomes totally insignificant when you consider the addition of a big fuckin’ V12 under the hood. That goes a long way towards rectifying any sins – and the performance was still phenomenal compared to just about 99% of everything else out there. Perhaps the writing was on the wall by its final model year, but when I see a S3 and think about the automotive landscape of 1971-72 or so, it still seems like a car that was entirely relevant and “of its time”.
Really great article – the bit about the “wool sheet test” is incredible! Never heard that one before.
Look for Muscle Cars to Malaise, Part 5 tomorrow. The Olds Toronado is the subject. Bring your own objectivity to the comments section.
The flying buttresses I never liked though they were fashionable in the late 60s Charger Corvette and others I think Sayer was thinking of a fast back design like the E 2+2, I like the E and the XJS American regulations ruined the E and the XJS had to be modeled to meet them hence the big bumpers and bluff frontal treatment,
Tom Walkinshaw turned the XJS into a competent touring car and it won races until regulations made it uncompetitive.
Great post! Noted designer Frank Stephenson did a redesign/update of the original E-Type on his Youtube channel, even admitting it felt almost sacrilegious to mess with his all time favorite car design. Another 25 min worth killing.
I wish everyone hated the E-Type (so then I could afford one)…
I found a link to an article (that came out after this was first published in 2015) on a site called “Drive Tribe” that includes some photos of concept sketches and clay models that are insightful: