On July 18, 1955, in sunny Southern California an icon was born when Walt Disney opened the gates to his vision of an amusement park for all ages—Disneyland. Some will remember that in those early days of Disneyland, visitors needed tickets to experience the various rides and attractions. The more subdued rides might call for an “A” or “B” ticket, but the most thrilling rides—the ones everyone wanted to experience—required the best and most valuable ticket—an E-ticket. While Disney created the notion of an “E-ticket ride,” by the end of the 1950s, halfway around the world in England, Sir William Lyons and his Jaguar Motor Car Company were laying on plans for their own “E” thrill ride.
The 1950s were halcyon days for Jaguar. With post-war demand for sports cars reaching record levels, Jaguar’s iconic XK120 two-seater quickly became a must-have amongst the American and European “sporty car” set. Alongside success in the showrooms, the ’50s also marked a period of near total domination by Jaguar in long distance racing, including 24 Hours of Le Mans victories in 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956 & 1957. However, by 1957 the Le Mans victories were getting harder to come by. Likewise, the XK120/140/150 line of sports cars was beginning to look dated and obsolete compared to the onslaught of exotic offerings from companies like Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Jaguar needed a new flagship sports car to carry it into the ’60s.
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