1966 Jaguar E-Type Series I 4.2-Litre Roadster

These are the words that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City uses to describe one of its larger acquisitions. The sculpture is described as having a “steel body: 47″ × 64½″ × 14′ 7½″.” It is a Jaguar E-Type roadster (or open two-seater) that has been credited to Sir William Lyons, Malcolm Sayer, and William M. Heynes. No one can deny that their magnum opus, this car, has not sunk as indelibly as the most famous of paintings into the world’s consciousness. The E-Type is, quite simply, one of the most famous and instantly recognizable mechanical shapes ever created.

The design of the car was birthed from the D-Type, a full-out racing car with sensuously curved aerodynamic styling that had achieved tremendous success in international competition. As it required a new, competitive production model, Jaguar’s management set about developing the design into a car that was suitable for road use. The famous, feline curves were developed by Sayer, a trained aerodynamicist, using wind tunnel testing and aircraft principles. They were constructed around a lightweight monocoque that had a tubular sub-frame to carry the engine, front suspension and steering, and an independent rear axle.

While the design would evolve over its 13 years of production, it never ceased being as beautiful as when it was first created. No other sports car has made such an impression upon the world.

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