The wait is finally over and the answer to the question on the lips of every car enthusiast has been answered: the Best British Car Ever is the Jaguar E-type, revealed at Classic & Sports Car – The London Show.
It’s the climax to a six-month process of selection and voting which has seen ten British icons battle to be named the car that people hold closest to their hearts. At the weekend, that winner was revealed, with the wraps pulled off a fittingly special E-type as Classic & Sports Car – The London Show opened its doors to the public at Alexandra Palace.
Interview Stage special guest Ant Anstead, who has recently presented the BBC’s Building Cars Live, took the Autoglym cover off to reveal ‘77 RW’ – the oldest-surviving open E-type and the original car that Norman Dewis OBE, another Interview Stage guest, drove from Coventry almost non-stop to the Geneva Motor Show for its worldwide debut in March 1961.
The Series 1 3.8-litre car was built in in February 1961 as the first production two-seater and, as well as starring on the Geneva show stand, was a press demonstrator, used by The Motor for its road test, published 22 March 1961. In 2000, Mr Michael Kilgannon, the long-term owner, put ‘77 RW’ on permanent loan to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. The car was then completely restored with the assistance of Martin Robey Limited of Nuneaton.
Earlier this year, Classic & Sports Car -a classic car magazine – asked a jury of more than 100 motoring experts, including former Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, to come up with the shortlist of 10 cars. As you might expect, the E-type was a big favourite with the expert panel.
Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler singled out the E-type’s combination of style and value for money: “It was the most beautiful car ever made, according to Enzo Ferrari, a lot less expensive and a lot better than the competition, too.” It was a feeling summed up by commentator, Simon Taylor: “Not only the fastest and most beautiful supercar of its day, but also miraculously half or one-third of the price of the cars that it pulverised. If they’d only made 75, instead of 75,000, they’d be auctioned today for Ferrari GTO money.”
James Elliott, Classic & Sports Car magazine group editor, said: “The E-type has it all, looks to stop traffic and a driving experience that has stood the test of time. When it was new you could not have bought more style and performance for the price. It is a car that continues to seduce young and old and is a very worthy winner.”
John Edwards, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: “This a fantastic accolade for one of Jaguar’s most recognisable models ever built. Jaguar’s Heritage business aims to support loyal and passionate customers so that models such as the E-type can continue to be maintained and enjoyed across the generations. The fact that it has captured the most votes in a global public vote is a testament to its status as one of the world’s most iconic sportscars and now, officially, as the Best British Car Ever.”