The Jaguar XKE's classic 3.8-liter twincam inline
six cylinder made 265 horsepower at 5500 rpm.
Although 8.0:1 compression was specified for markets with poor-quality gas, most XKEs would run 9.0:1 pistons, in which case the 3.8 was said to produce 265 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 260 pounds/feet of torque at 4,000. Unlike its canted position in the D-Type, the engine stood up straight here.
A four-speed manual would be the only available transmission. No overdrive, and no automatic. This wasn't for the sake of simplicity, though: There was simply insufficient room for those options in this compact, tightly packaged sports car. However, a limited-slip differential would be standard.
With all its civilizing changes, the old XK roadster had become a contradiction in terms as a 150, and was not selling well anyway, so XKE body styles would be limited to the familiar pair of coupe and convertible.
The latter was occasionally called Open Two Seater, but in neither model was any attempt made to cram extra seating in the back, "+2" or otherwise. For the first time, Jaguar offered the drophead with a detachable hard top, an idea doubtless borrowed from America and here also rendered in fiberglass.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the new production sports car emerged looking much like the E2A. But where the latter had seemed a bit stubby, perhaps even dowdy to eyes long used to feasting on the D-Type, the roadgoing Jaguar XKE was so lovely as to make the heart ache.
The original lines may have come from Malcolm Sayer's wind tunnel, but in the grace, the balanced proportions, the subtle electric excitement, one surely saw the hand of William Lyons.
For its formal introduction to the world, the XKE was taken to the international arena of Switzerland and the Geneva auto show of March 1961. It was fully the sensation the XK 120 had been in London over a dozen years before. But even more so. Incredibly, Jaguar had ignited yet another sports-car revolution.
For more on Jaguar and other great cars, see:
- Jaguar Cars: Check out more information on the great sporting cars.
- How Sports Cars Work: Get the lowdown on hundreds of fantastic sports cars from the 1940s to today.
- Classic Cars: Learn about the world's most coveted automobiles in these illustrated profiles.
- Ferrari: Learn about every significant Ferrari road car and racing car.
- New Jaguars: Reviews, ratings, prices, and specifications on the current Jaguar lineup from the auto editors of Consumer Guide.
- Used Jaguars: Reviews, recalls, trouble spots, and more on pre-owned Jaguars starting with the 1990 model year. From the auto editors of Consumer Guide.