A Little While Ago vs. Right Now

My earlier posts on vintage British sports cars generated quite a bit of discussion (here and here).  So I thought I’d bring the post topic up to date somewhat, to review what’s been happening recently.

First a little history.  This, of course, is the E-Type we all know and love (from 1966):


Next, the Jaguar XK, which was discontinued in 2015:


Personally, I think this was the most beautiful Jag made since the X220.  Then, in a fit of stupidity idiocy foolishness mental retardation lunacy brilliance, Jaguar replaced the above with the “F-Type”:


Personally, I fucking hate the F-Type:  it’s ugly, brutish and classless, with all the modern doodads which supposedly appeal to the sports car buyer of today:  massive front grille, show-off brake calipers and totally superfluous air scoops with black accents.

So we went from sleek and sexy to fugly in 50 years.  I think they call that “progress”.  No prizes for guessing what I think it is.


  1. When I bought my last car, (this year), I looked long and hard at the Jaguar showroom, (at the bottom of my road), I thought about the F type and the F pace quite a lot and then bought a Ford Edge.
    The Edge is as good as the F pace if not better. The F type seems to be what an advertising man thinks a sport car is. (I have my beady eyes on a 5 litre Mustang.
    I know you told me not to do it but if you’re a 66 year old adolescent, you’re motivated by a power beyond our ken.

  2. Sniff. That first photo looks exactly like the 1964 E type I owned in the 1980’s. Spent 7 years restoring it to near showroom condition (frequent travels to UK made parts easy to get), drove it for a while then sold it in a fit of distraction.

    Being 6′ tall with some bulk kept hitting the roof, which made it a tad uncomfortable at times, but boy was it a joy to aim down the highway and back roads. Straight 6 3.8 L with 3 SU carbs and decent compression (required high test). Should have put the ’69 sling seats in it to gain headroom, but who knew back then.

    Don’t think I could climb in and out of one now. Guess I had an early midlife car crisis and did not know it.

  3. I have a soft spot in my heart for the old Jags. Having been born in 1963, by the time I was old enough to know what a car WAS I had toy e-types in sizes ranging from Matchbox up to a wired remote controlled one that in my memory was about three feet long (but in reality 21″ long, I just found one on ebay). That of course was the XKE.

    Big Fella: Go ahead, buy the Mustang. I drove mine from brand-new in 1989 until 2016 when I lost it to an accident, and the only way to have more fun in a car is in the back seat of a MUCH larger car with an enthusiastically willing partner and absence of clothing.

  4. Jaguar has a long history of starting out with a simple, beautiful design and develop that simple beautiful design into lumpy, overweight bloated caricatures of the original.
    Example 1, XK 120, coupe or roadster, graceful, stylish and just plain beautiful. Morphs to the XK 140, heavier, longer, fatter. Morphs to the XK150, even fatter, more bloated an no longer beautiful.
    Example 2, E type, coupe or roadster, starts out slim, lith, incredibly beautiful. Lost the faired in headlights, got a larger grill opening. Morphs to the 2+2 and the V12, more chrome, more fat, bloated and no longer beautiful.
    Example 3, as noted above, the XK (V8) and morphs to the F type.
    I rest my case.

  5. The big grilles all make the cars look like some variety of Dodge/Chrysler to me. The new Camaro doesn’t have any Camaro cues that I can see. My complaint about the ducts and scoops and things is the same one I have about leather jackets. When you’re a teenager, you can get away with wearing a bomber jacket with belts and buckles and zippers that have no apparent purpose, but along about age 30, the jackets need cleaner lines. I was not aware that Jaguar was going after the college kid rice burner market with their F-Type. No rear spoiler that raises and lowers with the speed?

  6. The difference of course being: The E looked sexy, drove like crap, could stop from 80 mph once (maybe), overheated in a snow storm, and would very likely kill you if you ran it into a tree.

    The XK (in particular the R) was handsome, if not sexy, drove okayishly, could stop from 120 several times without melting the brakes, mostly wouldn’t explode, and probably wouldn’t kill you unless you were exceptionally stupid.

    The F looks somewhat generic, though striking, drives really quite well, stops from 150+ all day long, runs properly, doesn’t explode (largely due to said scoops and eleventeen fluid coolers), and usually won’t kill you even if you are exceptionally stupid.

    Hence the age-old tradeoff between pure design and something that actually works properly. I’d say we’ve gone too far into the realm of engineering trumps all in so far as safety regulations and driver aids go, but market forces can’t be ignored for long– that’s why the Miata killed the Brit sub-brand roadster market, why the Japanese supercar wars of the 90s forced the Euro exotic makers to go way, way up market and essentially stop making sports cars, and so on.

    The F-type is actually an excellent illustration of this– when they launched it, the best one to drive was the supercharged V6 that came with a manual, which was also the cheapest version. Naturally, they killed it (and all the R supercoupes) in short order, as the Jag market tends to be old and unable to drive worth a damn.

    1. You are right about the brakes on the E type and at one time I had a hydraulic leak and something was hooked up to the vacuum on the manifold because a hard braking from speed would through a white smoke screen out of the exhaust and then the clutch would get crappy because there was not enough fluid and it took a couple of tries to remedy the situation.

      Turning radius was shit too on the E type, however on a long straight away with some nice curves between 80 and 100 mph she would sail like dream, not breathing heavy at all, and that for me was during the time of 55 mph nationwide which was shit.

    2. Yeah, sorry: “efficient” doesn’t have to include “ugly”. The reason that the E-type couldn’t stop for shit was because NO cars of the era could stop for shit — not even the street-legal Ferrari 250. The Mercedes Gullwing could be out-cornered by today’s Toyota Corolla, too. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking beauty, here, not roadworthiness. As I suggested earlier, the two CAN coexist, just not in today’s automotive market, apparently.

      1. I really loved the cockpit interior of those old Jags, all the round analog dials and info you needed, when you were over heating or when it was below 30 degrees F and you had to put cardboard pieces in front no the radiator for the heater to work, and yes, this is perhaps the most beautiful car ever made, at least to my eye. All the curves in all the right places.

        1. My parents had a succession of Jaguars, so I agree with your comment about the interior. My Father’s version was that the makers of a WWII bomber (I guess the 4 engine Wellington) wanted to make it easy for the pilots, and so the gauges were calibrated that all the needles on the gauges should point in the same direction (preferably all of them vertical) when all was running well. So, instead of reading each gauge, you ran an eye over them to see if any we out of harmony. And Jaguar adopted that layout.
          Now, there is no Jaguar dealer nor repairer within 400 kms of home, but I rather thought it time. Got into the drivers seat; what a disappointing instrument display! (And a salesman who antagonised me)
          The UK Labour Party ( =Democrats) nationalised most of England’s car production, and what was the Jaguar Coventry Works became something like “Leyland heavy car plant No 2”
          Took them a few years to almost destroy Jaguar; taken decades to restore it.

          1. And this is post Ford, too, right? The Yanks had to rescue the Brits again.

          2. Ford came along after the Labour simpletons had done their worst. Jaguar fans owe a large debt of gratitude to Ford and its shareholders. And now Jaguar comes under the wing of an Indian conglomerate.
            Maybe Boris can put the UK back together again!

      2. With regard to the brakes, et al, I was referring to your jab about them being “show-off” material– they’re huge because the design requirements included “work properly at high speed”. While you can argue the aesthetics of such things– and in most cases I’d probably agree with you– the implication that air flow management, cooling, braking, etc. is in the state it is with modern sports cars purely as tinsel is just silly.

        As to beauty coexisting with modern design– I suppose that depends on your definition, but assuming you mean the usual 60s flowing lines and curves, no, they really can not, because it’s largely impossible to make shapes like that remain on the ground over a certain speed. And we won’t even talk about safety standards and other such nonsense.

  7. The Italians couldn’t build a decent suspension with all the merlot in the world– you want Ze Germans, ‘mercans or Japanese for that (and I’d say Brits, but not so much these days, alas). Styling that doesn’t come out of Italy usually wishes it did, or is knocking off something that did. Engines, again, the krauts or us– depends what you want and why.

    However, the real problem with that concept– and a huge number of pie-eyed niche car makers trying to build for the enthusiast market have tried– is that market is tiny these days, and you’re trying to convince said tiny market they shouldn’t buy a Porsche or BMW. Or, down market from there, a Ford or Chevy, sports cars from whom are currently world-beating, and come with a warranty and financing options, with a sticker price far lower than anything a small volume builder could touch.

  8. The F type is a Ford Mondeo with a different body shell. And the Mondeo looks better…

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