Despite some hints to the contrary by
Jaguar boss Sir Williams Lyons at the
E-Type’s public reveal in the spring of
1961, the Coventry marque never
intended the car to follow in the footsteps
of its three-time Le Mans-winning D-Type.
Jaguar believed the E-Type’s sexy looks,
bargain price and impressive 150mph
performance would be enough to make it
fly out of dealerships – and so it proved.
But Briggs Cunningham couldn’t resist
the tempation to take the grooviest car
of the1960s to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The wealthy American had become a
Jaguar proponent in the mid ’50s, fielding
the winning D-Type in the ’ 55 12 Hours of
Sebring. His roster of entries at Le Mans
1962 JAGUAR E-TYPE
in ’ 60 included Jaguar E2A, the
prototype for the E-Type, driven by Dan
Gurney and Walt Hansgen.
With the cat out of the bag and on sale
to the public in 1962, Cunningham entered
one of three privateer E-Types at that year’s
24 Hours of Le Mans. With Roy Salvadori
and Cunningham himself at the wheel, the
feline GT finished fourth overall, behind the
winning Ferrari 330 and two 250 GTOs,
and ahead of another E-Type driven by
Peter Sargent and Peter Lumsden.
In the wake of this unexpected success,
Jaguar built a dozen, aluminum-bodied
“Lightweight E” racers for sale to privateers,
but fourth at Le Mans in ’ 62 remained the
E-Type’s sporting highwater mark.
Running in the over-3-liter GT class, Briggs
Cunningham’s privately entered E-Type
proved impressively competitive in the
1962 24 Hours of Le Mans. Running like a
train, it finished just four laps shy of a
podium and averaged 108.87mph.
E FOR EFFICIENT
Small “mouth” and glass-covered headlights show
that Briggs Cunningham’s ’ 62 Le Mans E-Type is a
Series 1 car. The speed stripes are Cunningham’s
invention – and subsequently widely copied.