The West

Jaguar E-Type still a beauty at 50
Mary Ann Stewart Richardson at the wheel of her 1962 Jaguar E-Type Roadster, which will be on display at the Perth Motor Show. Enjoying the ride in the passenger seat is Natalie Blank.

Unless you were there, it would be difficult to imagine the impact of the Jaguar E-Type when it was unveiled at Geneva's 1961 motor show.

In Europe, everyday cars were Morris Minors, Citroen 2CVs, Volkswagen Beetles and Fiat 500s.

In Australia, we had the FB Holden and XK Ford Falcon.

Then along comes the E-Type, with its race-bred styling that would have been labelled obscene if it wasn't so beautiful.

This year the Perth Motor Show Live is putting on a display to mark the car's 50th anniversary.

The show runs from Friday to Sunday at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The importance of the E-Type's design has been recognised through a permanent display at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

But the E-Type was not just about looks.

The factory claimed the car was capable of 240km/h and, though this turned out to be considerably optimistic, it was still fast enough to become a performance icon.

Indeed, it wasn't much slower than high-performance sports cars of the era such as the Aston Martin DB4 and Mercedes 300SL but, most significantly, it was about half the price.

The E-type's styling was obviously derived from the Jaguar D-Type sports racers of the 1950s, but modified and updated for mass production.

The long bonnet, enclosed headlights and taut, high-waisted rear end combined to breathtaking effect.

None of these features was new at the time but in the E-Type they were turned into something special.

One of the best-known E-Types in WA is the 1962 Series I that competed in the 1964 Six-Hour Race at Caversham and still races today.

It was driven to victory in that event by its first owner, Harley Pedrick.

It is now owned by Jaguar stalwart Allen Shephard, who has campaigned it in the Panama-Alaska Rally and uses it as a high-speed dry-lakes racer.

At the show display organised by classic cars enthusiast Paul Blank, there will be a 1962 E-Type Roadster belonging to Ken and Mary Ann Stewart-Richardson.

Many of the contemporary cars at this year's show are excruciatingly desirable but would the sensation of their unveilings match that of the E-Type's in 1961?

I'll leave that for you to consider.

• For more show details, visit

The West Australian

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