Now Jaguar is recreating a limited edition of six of the fastest E-Types ever made - the lightweight, aluminium-bodied machines driven to 26 victories by motor-racing legends such as Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.
The Coventry-based firm originally planned to build 18 lightweight E-Types but only 12 were made, between 1963 and 1964.
Of those, two were wrecked beyond repair (though one of these has since been rebuilt). As a result, the surviving cars are extremely rare and worth at least £7 million (R129 million).
PRICE OF PERFECTION
Now, more than 50 years later, Jaguar has completed the intended production run of 18 by painstakingly building six new cars to the original design, and giving them the unused chassis numbers. But perfection does not come cheap. The new cars, which are being hand-built by the ‘Heritage’ team at the firm’s original Browns Lane site, cost £1.2 million (R22 million) each and are being sold to six hand-picked enthusiasts.
One is American car collector John Breslow. He says: “Too many people buy things and put them away. But just as paintings like a Van Gogh should be seen by everyone, people ought to be able to see this car. I will take it to shows and I’ll race it, I’ll even drive it on the streets. For me this is a dream that’s come true.”
Technicians used laser scanning to reproduce the original cars’ 230 body parts to an accuracy of a fraction of a millimetre. The aluminium body is 93kg lighter than the steel-bodied model. Interior trim and chromework are discarded to save weight, and even the hand-operated side windows are pared down.
Each car has a serial number from 1963, the year the originals were due to be produced, and the craftsman’s marks are clearly visible on the chassis identification plate. Cameras were fitted in the factory that took pictures every six minutes to give their owners a record of how their car was put together.
The wooden-rimmed steering wheel, speedometer and rev counter are all exact reproductions of the originals. As are the leather seats, which took more than three days to produce. Any with the tiniest scratch were discarded (the exposed body panels were also rejected if there was the slightest imperfection). But despite all of this, don’t expect luxury – this is a stripped-back racing machine.
That said, each car comes with a white gold E-Type-style chronometer by British luxury watch company Bremont worth £35 000 (R646 000) and a bespoke leather suitcase.
LIGHTWEIGHT ALL THE WAY
The specially made wheels are formed from magnesium alloy for lightness and strength and carry special-order Dunlop racing tyres. The suspension is tuned to a period-correct racing trim and the trademark long, low aluminium bonnet is secured by leather straps, ensuring a quick turnaround in the pits.
The spectacular engine is a highly advanced aluminium version of Jaguar’s straight-six XK engine with chain-driven twin overhead camshafts, hemispherical combustion chambers and triple carburettors.
NOT FIT FOR GOODWOOD?
The cars are being built just a few yards from the original E-Type assembly line, but not everyone is happy at the rebirth of the E-Type.
Lord March, who runs the Goodwood Revival, an annual classic car racing weekend, says they won’t be allowed to compete there. “They are brand new,” he says. “Cars have to be made before 1966 to be invited to race at Goodwood, we don’t have replicas.”
Mail On Sunday
Original source: Jaguar builds six brand new E-Types