Jaguars Retro Masterpiece

Andy Goundry: The Jaguar E Type has long held a special place in the heart of most car enthusiasts, with probably the most coveted of these being the lightweight cars factory-built in 1963 for racing. This motoring icon was extensively modified from the production car, featuring an aluminium monocoque, body panels, hardtop and cylinder block, together with a lack of interior trim and exterior chrome work and a host of further weight-saving features including lightweight, hand-operated side windows, collectively saving 114kg (250lb) less weight than a standard E-type, sufficient to give these cars a highly impressive performance for the day.

The Lightweights were homologated for GT competition by being designated as a ‘standard’ roadster E-type fitted with a number of “options”. Those options varied from car to car, but all the cars featured a wide-angle head, dry-sumped 3.8-litre XK engine with fuel injection. All chassis numbers carried an ‘S’ prefix.

one of the original lightweights in action at Silverstone photo: Jaguar Heritage
one of the original lightweights in action at Silverstone.                            photo: Jaguar Heritage

The Lightweight E-types were raced in period by such as Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Roy Salvadori and Briggs Cunningham. Today the remaining Lightweights are regular front-runners in the historic motorsport scene.

Whilst the original plan was to build 18 of these cars, for reasons which have been lost with the passage of time, only 12 were ever built – of which 11 are believed to still exist.

However, Jaguar announced on 14th May that they are to build another six of the lightweight cars, as perfect reproductions and to exactly the original specifications and assigning the six remaining chassis numbers which were originally allocated in 1963. The new cars will be hand-built in-house by Jaguar’s finest craftsmen, and the first car is expected to make its’ public debut later this summer. Deep pockets will be needed to buy one though – the grapevine suggests that the selling price will be in excess of a cool £1 million, however that could be something of a bargain considering that one of the original cars could be expected to make upwards of £3 million at auction.

Notwithstanding the price, Jaguar expect a high demand for the cars, indeed rumour has it that at least one of the six has already been sold. Established Jaguar collectors, especially those with historic race car interests, will be prioritised amongst those potential customers who express interest as Jaguar are keen to see that the vehicles are seen by the public and not hidden in museums.

one of the new aluminium bodies in build.   photo: Jaguar Heritage
one of the new aluminium bodies in build.                                      photo: Jaguar Heritage

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