It’s said that if you wreck a vintage Ferrari, as long as you have the serial number plate you can build a new car around it. Jaguar’s about to do the same thing, though in this case, the serial numbers have only existed on paper.
Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations will build a final six Jaguar Lightweight E-types of an intended run of 18 cars of ‘Special GT E-type’ project of which only 12 had originally been built. Each of the “new” cars will be assigned one of the remaining chassis numbers allocated in 1963.
The six new cars will be duplicates of the earlier 12, built by skilled craftsmen in the original home of the Jaguar E-type, the Browns Lane facility in Coventry, England. Not legal for road use, the new cars are to be sold as “period competition models” and will be “suitable for FIA homologation for historic motorsport purposes.”
The first 12 Lightweight E-types were built in 1963 and homologated as a “standard” Jaguar E-type roadster, just modified for competition. Intended as a successor to the Jaguar C-type and D-type, the Lightweight E-type was never as successful as its predecessors, not winning Le Mans or Sebring, though driven by racing luminaries including Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Roy Salvadori and Briggs Cunningham. As Jaguar lagged in racing technology, the Lightweight E-types were successful in lesser races, but became an icon of Jaguar racing history.
Just like the originals of fifty years ago, the originals of today will have a full aluminum—or for British owners, aluminium—body shell, replacing the steel of the production E-types. Although modern bonding systems would be stronger than the original methods, using them would not be “true to the original design” and, oh, incidentally, not eligible for vintage events. It’s the philosophy that guided the development of the continuation Lightweight E-types.
If the last six Jaguar Lightweight E-types were going to be true to the first twelve, however, Jaguar’s craftsmen didn’t shun modern technology, scanning one of the first twelve to determine the exact measurements of the lightweight cars, though “flipping” the scan of one side to produce a symmetrical final design.
About 75 percent of the body panels were made in-house, but a few very large sections were outsourced, though using Jaguar-designed tooling when doing so. The later of the first twelve, built after Jaguar had gained experience with the earlier cars, were used as a model for the strengthening elements which will be added for the new cars. After all, it is a continuation.
Jaguar duplicated the engine of the first twelve for the continuation Lightweight E-types, using an aluminum block and cylinder head, replacing the standard cast iron block. Again, the most advanced version of the DOHC in-line six was used as a standard, with three 45DCO3 Weber carburetors. The Lightweight E-Types were homologated with the Weber as well as Lucas mechanical fuel injection. The latter will be available for those who wish to pay more.
Final assembly of today’s Lightweight E-types takes place at Jaguar Heritage at Brown’s Lane, the monocoque bodyshell having been built at Whitley where it was mated to the tubular engine subframe and then shipped to Jaguar’s Gaydon shop for painting. At Browns Lane the powertrain, suspension, brakes, steering, electrics (Lucas gremlins optional), instrument panel and soft trim are added.
The six lucky owners will be able to the final specifications for each car, determining “originality” for the six continuation Lightweight E-types. It’s not often one gets to put a stamp on a significant bit of Jaguar history. All you need is a serial number. Oh, and about a million pounds Sterling, or for you, Yank, about $1.7 million.