1970 Jaguar XK-E Ad
1970 Jaguar XK-E

Looking back. it may seem absurd, but apparently the marketing folks at Jaguar once felt the need to compare the brand’s legendary E-Type sports car directly to other vehicles. The E-Type, known also as the XK-E in North American markets, popularly considered one of the most-beautiful mass-produced vehicles ever built, is laid uncomfortably bare in the chart below. The XK-E may be the most beloved vehicle ever to come out of England, but in this ad, the car is treated as a commodity, no different than a lawn mower or a can of tuna.

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1970 Jaguar XK-E

That said, the cars the Jaguar is being compared to in this 1970 print ad are pretty special, too, but they are also very different from the Jag. The Mercedes isn’t a sports car at all, and was also very expensive. The Porsche was a car unto itself, at a time when its rear-engine design was still something of a handling red flag best left to serious drivers—and crazy people.

1970 Jaguar XK-E Ad
1970 Jaguar XK-E Ad

The End of Jaguar

As for the Maserati, the Ghibli was really a large, touring car, powered by a big V8 engine and weighing in a solid 600-700 pounds heavier than the Jaguar.

The odd comparison vehicles aside, it was deemed necessary to point out that the Jaguar was less expensive than the other cars included in the comparison. Jaguar was actually selling the magnificent XK-E on price. What the heck?

Of course, it’s possible that the marketing folks at Jaguar selected this group of comparison vehicles because they were so expensive. The electric 911, for example, listed for a staggering $8700 in 1970, while the XK-E went for just $5500. That’s $68,000 and $43,000 respectively in 2024 dollars. That’s for the Jaguar coupe, by the way, convertibles cost a little more then, and are worth a lot more now.

While the Jaguar of today is a commodity vehicle, and the brand now teeters on the edge of failure, the Jaguar of the late Sixties was a much different thing. Erudite owners with expensive stereos and tweed jackets drove their mighty Jags on long weekend trips with beautiful women by their side. That was Jaguar—a brand with a history steeped in racing victories, technical sophistication, and glorious sheet metal.

This ad was probably not the beginning on the end, but it could have been. It was mistake for Jaguar to hawk its finest-ever vehicle with the indifferent hucksterism of a door-to-door vacuum drummer working on commission.

And, if this ad was the beginning of the end, it was only for the brand, not the car. While Jaguar itself is no longer front-and-center in any luxury shopper’s mind, the XK-E remains to many enthusiasts the greatest sports car every built. As it should.

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1970 Jaguar E-Type
1970 Jaguar XK-E

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1970 Jaguar XK-E Gallery

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