I never thought I would be happy about a car not looking like one of the most gorgeous cars in the history of the horseless carriage — but I’m so glad the gorgeous new Jaguar F-TYPE doesn’t look like the gorgeous old Jaguar E-Type.
The Jaguar F-TYPE is the spiritual successor to the classic E-Type. It’s also the car Doug DeMuro described as "a Miata for people who know how to use Microsoft Excel." It’s been out for a few years now, but I just recently saw a picture of an F-TYPE parked next to an E-Type. It wasn’t until then that it hit me that these two British sports cars — which share a bloodline and similar nomenclature — look almost nothing like each other. They’re both curvy little sports cars with a few similar lines and cat emblems on their grilles, but that’s about where the similarities end: The F-TYPE is more modern, more jagged and more tightly proportioned, while the E-Type looks like a product of its era, with larger fenders, curvier lines and bigger overhangs.
Why am I so happy these cars are so different? Because Jaguar easily could have phoned in the design for the F-TYPE and called it a day. They could have succumbed to the retro craze that’s been dominating the industry ever since the New Beetle of the 1990s. They could have done what Ford did with the S-197 Mustang, or what Chevy did with the fifth-gen Camaro, and make it look like the old one, but … new. You can’t look at a brand-new Dodge Challenger and tell me it doesn’t look like an oversize Hot Wheels version of a 1971 Challenger. But if you put an F-TYPE and an E-Type next to each other, it’s not glaringly obvious that the two cars are from the same brand.
Think about how easy it could have been for Jaguar to rehash the E-Type. Not everyone knows what an E-Type is, but most people have probably seen that car at some point — if not in person, then in media — and they know it’s a beautiful old sports car. Enzo Ferrari himself called it the most beautiful car ever made. Jaguar could have made a new car with the same body shape, the same round headlights and the same oval grille as the classic E-Type, and it might have even sold better than the F-TYPE has.
But Jaguar didn’t bother with that retro stuff. Instead, they designed a brand-new sports car from the ground up. This is what a Jaguar looks like in 2017, not 1961 — and if every manufacturer keeps going back to the well for designs on their new cars, those designs are never going to move forward. The Porsche 911 is an excellent example of a design progressing over the years; a brand-new 991 looks pretty similar to a classic 911, but there’s nothing retro about a 991. And, personally, I think that’s how it should be.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t borrow a few design cues here and there. What would a Jeep be without a 7-slot grille? What would a MINI be without a roof you could use as a coffee table? It’s not hard to find some design elements the F-TYPE borrows from the E-Type, but they’re a logical progression of the design rather than an aesthetic rehash. It becomes a problem when brands get too hung up on "heritage" to deliver anything new or interesting — and Jaguar has surely avoided that issue.
So, I’m glad the F-TYPE doesn’t have round headlights for the same reason I’m glad the C7 Corvette doesn’t have round taillights. We already know what the past of sports cars looked like. I want to see the future. Find a Jaguar F-TYPE for sale