It is one of the longest-running loves between a character and his car in history. Longer than that between James Bond and his Aston Martin DB5, longer than that between Inspector Colombo and his Peugeot 504. Diabolik and the Jaguar E-Type are simply inseparable. Even on returning to the cinema in the Manetti Bros. film, the King of Crime Diabolik will not abandon his beloved Jaguar E-Type. But what is so special about the E-Type? And why is it now synonymous with Diabolik? Let’s find out together.
Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type, a 1962 Series 1: 265 hp, many innovations and a legendary history
Since Diabolik’s debut, in 1962, his car was a Jaguar E-Type. On the streets of Clerville, the English sportswoman is synonymous with the King of Crime. In 60 years Diabolik has not yet abandoned his beloved feline, which has remained unchanged over the years. Diabolik is in fact the jealous owner and driver of one Jaguar E-Type Series 1 from 1962. This is the first series of the English sports car, born in Coventry exactly 60 years ago, in 1961. If you would like to know more about the incredible story of an icon of world motoring, at the bottom of the page you will find our article dedicated to the history of Jaguar E-Type.
Today, however, we will focus exclusively on Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type. Painted in a splendid black color, to match Diabolik’s suit, the E-Type of the King of Crime is the first generation of the English sports car, which in the 60s revolutionized the world of sports cars. The E-Type, in fact, was a real phenomenon of the Swinging Sixties: beautiful, very fast and with cutting-edge technical solutions, it made all rivals from Aston Martin, Maserati and even the untouchable Ferrari age suddenly, costing from 3 at 6 times less.
Diabolik Series 1 is one Fixed Head Coupé, o FHC, or the covered two-seater version, which is flanked by the uncovered Roadster. There line drawn by Malcolm Sayer it is still today immortal and timeless. Mileage bonnet, cockpit set back as far as possible and the unmistakable sloping tail, with side-opening luggage hatch. The first Jaguar to feature a modern monocoque chassis, under the hood of Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type Series 1 pulsed a legendary engine, the Jaguar XK: a 3.8-liter twin-cam inline 6, capable of 265 hp.
The gearbox is a 4-speed manual, the traction is obviously rear and at the level of suspensions and brakes the E-Type is very advanced. In fact, from the racing Jaguars that dominated at Le Mans in the 1950s, it inherits the independent suspension on all four wheels and power-assisted disc brakes on all four wheels, the first production car to have them. The performance, thanks to such an innovative project, they were exceptional, and still excellent today: 0-100 km / h in 7.3 seconds, and over 240 km / h of top speed. All at a price similar to some premium sedans, and lower than any similarly powerful car, compared to which the E-Type is prettier, more modern and faster. A car like this, with an unmistakable and bad line, could only be Diabolik’s car.
But why was the E-Type chosen?
And one of the reasons why the Giussani sisters chose the E-Type is to be found in hers unmistakable and very bad shape. The incredibly long bonnet, the muzzle with that real feline mouth ready to attack, the hump on the bonnet that reminds you at every glance that under there is a 6-cylinder that pushes and yells. In black, the E-Type is awe-inspiring, almost fearful, and its thin, set back cockpit gives little chance to see who is inside. For this, Diabolik’s E-Type is the perfect choice to be the villain’s car par excellence.
For this reason, since the first appearance of Diabolik, the Genius of the escape moves exclusively with his Jaguar E-Type. In the streets of Clerville, it is enough to see the unmistakable silhouette of the E-Type to instill fear in anyone on the street. The Giussani sisters, in fact, chose the E-Type not mainly for its exceptional technical skills, but for the lines that inspired aggression, wickedness, which immediately made it clear that the car was being looked at but at the same time fleeting, elusive.
In fact, there is also another reason why the E-Type became Diabolik’s official car: one of its creators. Angela Giussani, one of the creators of Diabolik and founder of the publishing house of Diabolik, Astorina, indeed he had a soft spot for the E-Type. A driver since the 1950s, when it was not so common for women to own a car, she also had a pilot’s license. Given his love for driving and adrenaline, it is not surprising to know that for years he has traveled the streets of Milan on a Fire red E-Type Roadster. A car with a less aggressive and nasty look than Diabolik’s, but with the same speed and crazy aesthetics.
The war between Diabolik and Bepi Koelliker, Jaguar importer for Italy
“Diabolik at the wheel of his powerful Jaguar running at 200 km per hour manages to pass before the police close all the roads”. Thus, in the first issue of Diabolik of November 1962, Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type is described for the first time. From the very first issue, in fact, the English sports car of the King of Crime contrasts with the white Citroen DS of Inspector Ginko, a great contrast between the black sports car of the villain and the white family car (but no less impressive from a technical point of view) of the representative of the Good. Since his debut, the most famous villain in the comic world sported his beloved Jaguar E-Type. The success of the comic, which soon became one of the most loved and read also outside national borders, gave a showcase of fame even to Jaguar itself.
At the time, in reality, this “collaboration” was not frowned upon by Jaguar, or rather, by the Italian importer of the English brand, Koelliker. For those unfamiliar with the story of Bepi Koelliker, this is one of the most powerful and influential Italian importers of foreign brands, specializing mainly in British cars. From Rover to Austin Healey, from Triumph to Jaguar. If in the 60s (and beyond) you wanted a British car in Italy, the reference was precisely the Koelliker Group. And from the legendary showroom in Piazza San Babila in Milan, the union between Diabolik and the Jaguar E-Type was seen as a trouble. Koelliker was indeed very worried, as his top car was coming described and characterized as a car “for thugs and murderers”.
An association that badly went well with the story that the importer made of Jaguar, a brand for classy, high-ranking people. For this, fin the first issues Koelliker distrusted the Astorina and the Giussani sisters over and over again, accused of damaging the reputation of the House of Coventry, making it appear in the eyes of the youngest as “the car of criminals”. Koelliker’s, however, was a sensational one own goal, as actually the popularity of Diabolik made the E-Type even more popular, loved and immortal. This combination became so famous that even today the E-Type is remembered as “Diabolik’s car”. And, with all due respect to the Koelliker family, during the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the E-Type Jaguar itself celebrated the company’s bond with the famous character.
The various interpretations of Diabolik’s E-Type: from the stylized first to the unrecognizable animated version
In the first releases of the weekly comic, however, Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type was not immediately flawless, quite the contrary. In fact, in the very first comics, the Jaguar of the Crime King appeared white, with fascinating and sensual lines but very far from those of the real E-Type. Plus, the whimsical cartoonists they moved the six-cylinder XK… behind. An outrage, a poetic license which, however, was immediately corrected after a few releases. In fact, in a few weeks, Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type turned its classic black color, the engine returned to its home, under the long bonnet, and the drawings became more and more accurate and precise.
To date, in fact, Diabolik’s comics reproduce in great detail both Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type and Ginko’s Citroen DS, with a heartwarming level of accuracy for automotive enthusiasts. But there was a time when the E-Type was … pasticciata, or in correspondence with the animated series about the King of Crime. Although the headlights, the grille and other details are reminiscent of Diabolik’s E-Type, this one looks almost like a mix between the original Jaguar, a Porsche and a Renault Twingo first series. Strange for sure, memorable for sure, but abandoned at the end of the animated series.
Eva Kant’s white E-Type
Diabolik’s Jaguar E-Type was not the only example of the British sports car to enter Angela and Luciana Giussani’s comics. Alongside the black E-Type coupe of the King of Crime, in fact, there was the white E-Type Roadster of his life partner, Eva Kant. Diabolik’s counterpart, in fact, drives a personal white E-Type from 1963 when he does not travel with his accomplice for some robbery.
Also a first series of 265 HP, with its candor it contrasts with Diabolik’s dark coupé. The aggressive and unmistakable lines are always the same, but the white refers to the “innocent” past of Eva Kant, who however under that facade remains a bad one, like her beloved Diabolik.
The changes received in the episodes: from the submarine E-Type to the almost… radio controlled one
Diabolik is also famous for the very rare use of firearms, to which he prefers the knives, with which he possesses a unique skill and unerring aim, and various disguises and tricks to get away with it. From the mythical masks that allow him to take the shape of anyone to the suit that makes him agile and invisible in the dark, one of the great secrets of his misdeeds is precisely the car. The very fast E-Type is often unstoppable for Clerville’s Polizia Alfa Romeos and Ginko’s DS, and its elusive line makes Diabolik’s use of particular “James Bond” technologies almost useless.
However, this does not mean that the E-Type has not been the protagonist of some very useful changes for the escape of the King of Terror. To remember is, for example, the “amphibious” E-Type, with which it can also reach the bottom of the sea. Another famous modification is the one that allows Diabolik to drive the E-Type lying down, positioning yourself …