MAHWAH, N.J., March 30 /CNW/ — On April 1st, 1961, Jaguar unveiled the sensational E-type sports car for the first time in the United States. The debut at New York's Fifth International Automobile Show attracted record-breaking crowds, with 47,000 eager spectators squeezing themselves into the Jaguar display area on the first day alone. The four show E-types became almost obscured by people, causing the New York Times to report that, at times, it was impossible to walk through the area at all! Over the nine-day run of the show, more than 330,000 automotive enthusiasts viewed the stunning new 150 mile-per-hour Jaguars. "When we launched E-type to a car-hungry America forty years ago, we couldn't have imagined the impact it would eventually have," said Mike O'Driscoll, President of Jaguar North America. "The car has become an icon, representing Jaguar's constant desire to produce ever more attractive and fun-to-drive cars. As a styling exercise, it has become the gold-standard for timeless design, and as an engineering marvel, it embodies the true meaning of 'The Art of Performance'." The centerpiece of the New York Show exhibit was an opalescent bronze E-type coupe, spinning slowly on a raised turntable above the crowd. Adding further glamour was actress and Playboy centerfold Marilyn Hanold, dressed in a shimmering gown, long white gloves, and a floor-length silk scarf. The new Jaguar E-type, or XK-E as it became known in the U.S., broke new ground for a production car, and then some. Performance, styling, comfort, refinement, price — never before had anything so fast, beautiful, advanced and affordable been offered to the car-buying public. So stunning were the looks, so sensational the performance, that the E-type quickly became the automotive icon of the swinging sixties. Rock stars such as George Harrison owned one and Frank Sinatra even tried to buy the first roadster on the west coast. The car was developed directly from the company's three-time Le Mans-winning D-type racecar and the 3.8-liter straight-six XK motor with dual overhead cams and triple carburetors came from the latest Jaguar XK 150S. With four-wheel disc brakes and precise rack and pinion steering, the new E-type was a delight to drive compared with many high performance cars of the time, which tended to be heavy to steer at low speeds and often harsh and uncompliant over rough surfaces. Acceleration times under seven seconds to 60 mph were on a par with cars considered fast more than twenty years later. Arguably the most identifiable and recognized Jaguar model ever, the E-type was — and remains — one of the most sought-after cars of all time. Its styling appears modern even today, and many of the car's features, like the faired-in glass-covered headlamps and four-wheel disc brakes, were far ahead of their time for a production car. When compared with the futuristic concept vehicles also exhibited at 1961's New York Auto Show, like Ford's Gyron — a rocketship-shaped vehicle balanced on two inline wheels using a large gyroscope — the E-type far more accurately foreshadowed the design and engineering trends of today's vehicles. Forty years after the New York Show introduction, these phenomenal automobiles are still guaranteed to draw interest everywhere. E-types are consistently the most popular vehicles with readers of major collector car publications, and have been shown in surveys to be the car readers would most like to own. A testimony to their enduring virtues, E-types are owned by some of the most influential automotive writers and prominent collectors worldwide. Forty years after Jaguar was the star of the New York Auto Show, the company returns to make its mark again in 2001 with the all-new X-TYPE luxury sport-sedan.
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