Auto Designer Frank Stephenson Names His Favorite Jaguar Designs


A favorite of Escort Cosworth co-designer Frank Stephenson, the E-Type isn’t featured in this video because many of us consider it the best automotive design to have ever graced showrooms and public roads. Heck, even the one and only Enzo Ferrari once said that Jaguar’s phallic-styled sports car from the ‘60s is the most beautiful car ever made.

Stephenson, the gentleman who also designed the first utility vehicle from BMW and the MINI Hatch from 2000, says that few automotive designs can match the aesthetic of the D-Type Longnose. The longer-nosed variant was introduced by Jaguar in 1955 to further increase the maximum speed on the Mulsanne Straight in combination with the huge aerodynamic fin.

What boggles the mind about the D-Type is that William Heynes, the automaker’s technical director and chief engineer, developed this car with aero in mind with the help of aerodynamics expert Malcolm Sayer. Uncoincidentally, the Jaguar E-Type was penned by them as well.

The second of four cars picked by Stephenson is the XK120 OTS, with OTS referencing the open two-seater body style. The very first versions with the covered rear wheels are crazy gorgeous, and they were fast as well. More specifically, 120 refers to 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour) for the early aluminum-bodied vehicles produced from 1948 until early 1950.

Number three on Frank’s list is the Mark 2 four-door sedan, which could be had with straight-six engines of up to 3.8 liters in displacement. Once the favorite ride of bank robbers and other baddies from the Albion, the Mark 2 served as inspiration for the Lincoln LS-based Jaguar S-Type from 1999.

For Stephenson’s honorable mention, the lesser-known XJ13 from 1966 is a masterclass of exterior design. A single unit was produced. It was crashed at the Motor Industry Research Association’s proving ground in 1971, then rebuilt to a near-perfect spec to the original. Currently displayed at the British Motor Museum, the XJ13 supercar was intended to race at Le Mans against heavyweights from Italy. By the time Ford had stuffed a 7.0-liter V8 in the GT40, the 5.0-liter V12 in the XJ13 was obsolete for endurance racing.