A discussion in the peanut gallery on a current BaT auction surrounds the use of the terms “XK-E,” “Roadster” and “Coupe” in America vs. “E-Type,” “OTS” and “FHC” in other parts of the world. One commenter made the point that Jaguar purists don’t prefer the former terms. While this is arguably a true statement today, from 1961 through at least 1967, we in the states likely would have disagreed.
I’m uncertain how many different brochures were produced in various countries, but I reference the 1961 spiral bound brochure from England, the 1961 multipage brochure of the full Jaguar line from the USA, and two versions of XK-E brochures of the S1 4.2 also from the USA.
Indeed, the terms “E-Type,” “OTS” and “FHC” are used exclusively in the English version, but “XK-E,” “roadster” and “coupe” are used exclusively in the US versions. Thus, we old fans in America were indoctrinated with those terms from the beginning.
It is my understanding the reason for the name change was the US marketing gurus felt that most Americans wouldn’t be familiar with the racing champions C-Type and D-Type, but knew well the XK-120, XK-140 and XK-150, which were imported to the states. Thus the decision to name the car “XK-E” for the American market. As for “coupe” and “roadster,” I’m guessing the terms were already in the American lexicon, and “OTS” and “FHC” sounded too foreign, not unlike “cabriolet.”
Note that, besides the owners manual, the only item with the “E-Type” insignia on the car at launch in 1961 was the horn push. As we know, on S1 3.8 cars, the badge on the boot said, simply, “Jaguar,” so renaming the car “XK-E” for U.S. buyers must have been relatively easy. When the S1 4.2 was introduced for the 1965 model year, the boot badge was changed to “E-Type Jaguar 4.2.” Thus, the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, though the brochure still called it an XK-E.
The confusion reigns to this day. At a concours just before Covid, two young men were whispering behind my S1 4.2, pointing to the boot. I asked if I could answer questions and one said, “My friend says this car is an XK-E, and I’m pointing out he’s wrong, it’s an E-Type.” We were able to diplomatically settle the discussion to their mutual satisfaction.
An interesting factoid: the English brochure spells out “open two seater” and “fixed head coupé,” specifically with the French “aigu” over the “e.” According to a Google search, in American English and in French, the word would be pronounced “koopay,” but the English would still pronounce it as “koop.” I’m interested in hearing how those across the pond and in other countries pronounce the word.
Anybody else have memories of Jaguar XK-E coupes and roadsters in your youth?