LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Jaguar is invoking its iconic E-Type roadster to challenge Mercedes and Porsche with its first two-seat sports car in almost four decades.
The F-Type, due to go on sale in mid 2013 -- including in the United States -- will be Jaguar's smallest car in more than a half-century as the marque seeks a return to its sporting tradition following decades spent focusing on luxury sedans.
"If the product can do what the original E-Type did for Jaguar, it will be a huge boost," said Peter Schmidt, managing director of Warwick, England-based Automotive Industry Data. "What they're doing is laudable, it's good for the brand and it's good for the image. But nobody should expect miracles."
The E-Type, introduced at the 1961 Geneva auto show, was described by Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car ever built," and became synonymous with the London of the "Swinging Sixties." Yet it has taken the $2.5 billion purchase of Jaguar by India's Tata Motors in 2008 for a pure-bred sports model to return to favor at the British manufacturer.
Tata, which acquired the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. and combined them into a single unit, plans to invest $12 billion over five years to win a bigger part of an upscale market dominated by German automakers.
Jaguar says the F-Type, a production version of its C-X16 concept car, first unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in 2011, is more than just a marketing ploy, and that the model will make money.