The Indian auto company Tata Motors bought Jaguar Land Rover for $2.3 billion in 2008, betting big that it could revive two venerable British brands that had lost a bit of luster over the decades. The new F-Type, the first Jaguar two-seater in a half-century, is the first major Jaguar design shepherded through by the new owners.
Tata has been a hands-off owner for Jaguar, largely letting its British team to make the major decisions on the car. At the recent unveiling, Tata executives were in the crowd, but it was the Jaguar design chief, Ian Callum, who took center stage.
And the designers looked to the past - and the famed E-Type, beloved by aficionados everywhere and called "the most beautiful car ever made" by Enzo Ferrari - to inspire what they clearly hope will be the automaker's future.
"It's just a tremendous challenge today to produce a beautiful car that meets all the world regulations," said Philip Porter, a Jaguar historian who has written a book about the E-Type.
He hasn't driven the F-Type yet, but likes what he's seen so far. "It's a combination like the great Jaguars of the past of sculptural styling, great engineering and superb performance."
And, he added, "it sounds like a sports car, which is essential."
"What is a sports car? It's a race car that you can drive on the road," Adrian Hallmark, the head of the Jaguar global brand, said Thursday at the car's official launch. "With the F-Type we tried to keep it pure."