F-Type: how Jaguar reinvented the British sports car

Jaguar's design chief lifts the lid on the development of the company's iconic new convertible
Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F-Type

It says a lot about Jaguar’s status in the canon of cool that even introducing the F-Type to the UK in its spiritual home of Coventry didn’t damage its rep.

That’s because this (currently) convertible-only successor to the legendary E-Type is powered by either a V6 or a supercharged V8, maxing out at a top speed of 186mph and a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds.

But, tasty as those figures are, it’s the Jaguar badge on the front that makes this car so special. It’s racing at Brooklands; film stars and footballers; Kim Novak’s Jag MK VIII in Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo. It’s a new, Great British sports car from an iconic British brand. And even a trip to Coventry can’t cripple that.

The spirit of the E-Type

Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F-Type

As Jaguar’s Director of Design Ian Callum explains, the E-Type loomed large during the F-Type’s development – even if it wasn’t there in the flesh.

“A lot of people ask me if we had an E-Type in the studio while we were designing the F-Type, and the answer is no. We didn't need one. It's so entrenched in our memories. The thing about the E-Type is that it's about a power train and two people, and it's about pulling a skin tightly and elegantly around those components. Those things haven't changed.”

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"A pencil and some paper"

Jaguar F-Type sketch

Jaguar F-Type sketch

Jaguar F-Type Ian Callum

Jaguar F-Type Ian Callum

The Jaguar F-Type is a cutting-edge, technologically advanced car, of course – you wouldn’t want to pay upwards of £58,000 for anything less – but what makes it so appealing, so desirable, so special is its link to the past, to what many consider the true golden age of motoring. And it’s not just in the name and the Jaguar heritage – it’s in the very way it’s conceived: a couple of pencilled lines arcing across a sheet of paper. We’ll leave the last word to Ian Callum:

“There are two lines on this car that are very important. One starts off from an aerodynamic blade on the front splitter, sweeps up through the headlight, on through the front wing and door and then disappears. When a line on the car vanishes into the sheet metal like that, I like to describe that as the pencil coming off the paper. Part of the beauty of any line is that it has to contain the spontaneity of the original sketch. Of course, we go through any number of iterations on computers, but we always still start with an intuitive, sketched line.”

The Jaguar F-Type is available from £58,520.