Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia
Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: It’s well known that upon its debut, Enzo Ferrari declared Jaguar’s E-Type to be “the most beautiful car ever built.” Road & Track journalist Henry Manney had an equally effusive and eyebrow-raising description for the car, what was it?
If you think you know the answer, pop over the jump and see if you’re right.
jag-ehardtop-jrWilliam Lyons (later Sir William Lyons) founded Swallow Sidecars, along with another William, William Walmsley, in 1922. The company’s initial products were, as the name implied, motorcycle sidecars, however they branched out into coach built cars most frequently using Austin engines and chassis as a base. In 1931 the company released its first car, the SS1 and two years after that it changed its name to SS Cars Ltd. That same year Walmsley left the company, leaving Lyons to take it public.
World War II interrupted SS Cars’ auto production and the unfortunate similarity of the name with the Nazi SS put pressure on Lyons to make a change following the conflict’s end. The choice was of course Jaguar, which was taken from a pre-war model. One cohesive thread of Lyons’ cars through all the corporate name changes however was their inherent beauty and if one can apply anthropomorphic qualities to them, sex appeal.
Arguably the Jaguar model that most dripped with sexiness was the E-Type, especially in OTS form. Upon its 1961 debut none other than Enzo Ferrari anointed the car with his approval, calling it the most beautiful ever built. A journalist, working for Road & Track at the time, had another description for the car, and one that was far more cheeky.
From The Independent:

Normal people, meanwhile, know the E-type as an icon of 1960s freedom – a performance car with a bird-pulling image. “The greatest crumpet-catcher known to man,” as US journalist Henry Manney described it.

Having spent his life designing cars so sexy that the attribute might rub off on their owners, it might be interesting to note that Lyons himself was not a playboy, but a happily married man from his early twenties until his death in 1985. So connected were Sir and Lady Lyons that when designing a new model, William would drive the prototype home for Greta to see and approve. We should all be so lucky to have caught our crumpet (or have been caught) so early in life.
Image: Phil Seed’s Virtual Car Museum

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  1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    I find crumpet catching to be reliant on mutual agreement.
    Interesting quote. I figured he called the E-type a “Phallically shaped phallus of a sportscar only outdone in it bulbous phallicy by the Bugatti Type 57.”
    Lyons wife loved the E.

    1. Vavon Avatar

      Rumors have it, that he preferred the D…

      1. Vavon Avatar

        Get your mind out of the gutter!

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    Crumpet-catcher! Yes, I knew that one! I used to enjoy reading HNM’s articles in R&T. Another one of his lines was “yr fthfl srvnt” (your faithful servant). A wordsmith if there ever was one. I’ve driven a couple of E-Types – Series I, and Series “1-1/2” (1966 4.2 with covered headlights). A delight to drive, with plenty of low-end torque, and beautiful mechanical noises.

  3. Bret Avatar

    The E-type is gorgeous in photos and looks even better in person. I’ve always dreamed of putting a Jag engine in my Healey. That would give my car the go to match its show. Unless, of course, a bank vault happens to land at my feet, in which case I’d buy a Series 1.5 E-type.