With F-Type Going Away, Is Jaguar an Endangered Species?

Jackson Wheeler
7 Min Read

Jaguar recently announced it would discontinue the F-Type after the 2024 model year. Which is a shame, really, because we need all the performance cars we can get in this world that seems so captivated by large SUVs, and because it was the only true, single focused 2-seat sports car Jaguar has built for—pause for effect—50 years.

It also brings into question what Jaguar is today, and where its future lies. Jaguar Land Rover sold a little over 420,000 cars last year globally, with the Land Rover brand posting the vast majority of those sales, and with a 3.4% increase over the previous year. Jaguar sold just over 86,000 cars, which was a 16% decline. What does that tell you?

Without the F-Type, Jaguar will have only the F-Pace and E-Pace (both SUVs), the electric I-Pace sedan, and the XF sedan. All reasonably handsome (if a bit long in the tooth), but is that enough for a company that was known to build some of the most beautiful cars ever?

For example, in 1948 Jaguar introduced its new XK engine, which was designed for its large sedans that were the core of Jaguar production. But to add a bit of drama, it was decided to showcase the powerplant in a prototype sports car, what became known as the XK 120, supposedly reflecting the car’s top speed.

chassis number xkd 501 was the first d type production for a private team, sold to the scottish racing team ecurie ecosse and dispatched on 5 may 1955

Chassis number XKD 501 was the first D-Type production for a private team, in 1955.

Patrick Ernzen 2016 courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Envisioned initially as having limited production, the car was a sensation, with a beautiful, streamlined body (but one that borrowed liberally from the competition BMW 328 Mille Miglia of 1937).

The car would help define what a “sports car” was to a post-war America and would continue in production through refinements as the XK 140 and XK 150, through 1960. Still, it was in its original form that was the purest statement.

The follow-up to the XK 150 is of course well known and perhaps the most iconic design of all Jaguars. Much has been written of the E-Type and its equally sensational introduction at the Geneva auto show in 1961—where, yes, Enzo Ferrari reportedly claimed it to be the most beautiful car in the world.

Designed by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer and based conceptually on his D-Type competition car, it was a dramatic departure from the previous XK series as its design was based on aerodynamic principles (though the car was not actually all that slippery).

Not All Great Jags Were Sports Cars

It was produced through 1974, in three series, with the original Series 1—like the XK 120—being the purest form.

Despite never being developed in full-size clay (Sayer plotted the surface as a series of points) and defying a more typical design development process, many automotive designers still have it on their top 10 great design lists.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has one in their permanent collection. As do I, full disclosure. I’ve had a Series 1 coupe for 30 years, and have yet to grow tired of looking at it.

1966 jaguar etype owned by dave rand, blue ribbon winner at 2023 eyes on design

The author’s 1966 Jaguar E-Type earned a blue ribbon at this year’s Eyes on Design in metro Detroit.

Tom Murphy

But not all the great Jaguars were sports cars. In 1968 the XJ6 was introduced as a replacement for Jaguar’s medium-sized sedans. While not mechanically all-new, its appearance was fresh and distinctive, yet very much a Jaguar, being both elegant and athletic at the same time.

Like other earlier Jaguar sedans, it featured a low upper, and with a track that pushed the tires out close to flush with the sheetmetal. It had a great purposeful stance and proportion that other sedans of the time simply did not possess.

1968 jaguar xj6

1968 Jaguar XJ6.

R. Viner//Getty Images

Years later, other manufacturers produced what became known as four-door coupes—sedans with low uppers that had coupe-like proportions (the original Mercedes Benz CLS of 2004 comes to mind).

It would be the XJ6 that would inspire them. The proportions dictated that the XJ6 would never be the roomiest of cars—and like other Jaguars, never the most reliable—but people bought them anyway. Because of the way they looked.

Who Aspires to Own a Jaguar Today?

So where does the company go when the world doesn’t care about traditional sedans anymore? And despite how successful Jaguar sports cars may have been, they were always a side business.

I wonder if anyone aspires to own a Jaguar today, as they did in the past when the brand was mentioned in the same breath as the other expensive European cars. Certainly, Land Rover has replaced Jaguar in this regard. After all, they make some very fine luxury SUVs.

There are rumors that a new electric XJ will be built, which is encouraging. But Jaguar’s past is its legacy and its burden.

Designing a new Jaguar—whether it’s a sedan, SUV, EV, or sports car—that captures the essence of its formidable history is a very challenging assignment, but at the same time a great opportunity.

For how do you design a vehicle so visually captivating that the whole world recognizes that it could only be a Jaguar?

dave rand design consultant apr 2023

Tom Murphy

Dave Rand (pictured right) is the former executive director of Global Advanced Design for General Motors.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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