The Jaguar E-Type was once described by Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car ever made,” and Enzo knew his stuff. Ever since it was introduced in 1961 E-Types have been turning heads with their long nosed grand tourer good looks. Now, Jaguar’s new “Engineered To Order” division (which is headed by none other than Harry Metcalfe, founder of EVO Magazine) is set to build six very special Lightweight E-Types to exact historic specification.
Over the lifetime of the E-Type, Jaguar produced two very special models, the Low Drag Coupe, and the Lightweight. The Low Drag Coupe was intended as an exercise in taking the more GT oriented E-Type and returning it to something closer to the D-Type race car which had won the 24 Hours of LeMans three times and on which some of the E-Type’s design was based. It was a coupe, unlike the open top D-Type in order to assure that the chassis had adequate stiffness. In a major departure from the production E-Type, the body was all aluminum. A number of other changes were also made including a tuned engine, perspex side and rear windows, and a number of aerodynamic modifications. Only one Low Drag Coupe was built, and after an unsuccessful racing career, it passed into private hands.
Jag knew that they were on to something with the use of lightweight materials, though, and so a year later they undertook a project to produce 18 “Lightweight E-Types.” The Lightweight was to be, more or less, an evolution of the Low Drag Coupe. This time, however, it was to remain an open top car in more direct homage to the D-Type. They began with a full aluminum monococque, which was wrapped with aluminum body panels. Although they were technically “open top” cars, each one also got an aluminum hard top as well. The rear track was widened using suspension components borrowed from the MK X, and the front suspension was modified to prevent dive under braking. Disc brakes at all four corners were lifted from the MK IX, and special lightweight Dunlop alloy wheels similar to the ones from the D-Type racers were fitted. All told, the Lightweight came in at 250 pounds under the standard E-Type.
With that light weight was combined an equally improved drivetrain which was based around an all alloy, dry sumped version of the 3.8 liter straight six which was topped off with a wide angle cylinder head from the D-Type and fed by a Lucas fuel injection system. This combination netted 300 HP, up from 265 on the standard car. The Lightweights were entered in various races, but were never winners at LeMans, Sebring, or the other big races.
Jaguar had initially intended to build 18 Lightweights, and had allocated 18 chassis numbers for them but in the end were only able to sell 12. The remaining six chassis numbers were never re-issued to other cars, and so they remained unused until now. Jaguar has announced that they will build the remaining six cars from the original 18 to exact historical specifications. In-house Jaguar craftsmen will use traditional techniques and period correct materials to build the six cars just as they would have been built in the early 1960s. Jag has been coy about pricing, but they have announced that the cars will be sold to established Jaguar collectors, and especially those with historic race car interests.