Lightweight Jaguar E-Type driven
Source : Lightweight Jaguar E-Type driven
After a break of 52 years, Jaguar is actually finally building the last six Lightweight E-Types. We get behind the wheel to see whether which is actually time well spent
The idea was born, as Great ideas usually are, inside pub. Jaguar design director Ian Callum along with his colleague David Fairbairn got talking over a pint about how Jaguar had never truly replaced the E-Type, arguably its greatest car, along with which something had to be done.
“We discussed various plans nevertheless couldn’t quite find the right one,” says Callum, who famously began his love affair with Jaguar early on when his grandfather took him to see an E-Type at the local dealership. “Then David moved to our fresh Special Operations division along with the idea for a continuation series of six Lightweight E-Types suddenly seemed an absolute natural.”
Back inside early 1960s, when the Lightweight was fresh, Jaguar’s fortunes were changing rapidly. inside post-war decade, the company had climbed to world prominence on the extraordinary popularity of the XK120 sports car along with its six-cylinder, twin-cam XK engine, which was soon used to power some beautiful fresh saloons along with the famous family of C-Type along with D-Type Jaguar sports/racing cars which scored dozens of international wins, including a few Le Mans victories in seven years.
However, a disastrous fire at the Browns Lane factory in 1957 set the company on a fresh course which led to the launch of the E-Type at the Geneva motor show in 1961.
This specific fresh sports car’s beauty along with affordability made which such an enormous hit which the company’s founder, Sir William Lyons, turned most of Jaguar’s resources to building road cars. The competitions department lost its pre-eminence – just as a fresh crop of lightweight rivals like Ferrari’s 250 GTO commenced winning races.
Lacking the time along with resources to build an all-fresh GT, Jaguar’s racers hatched a plan to build an ultra-light E-Type using aluminium components pressed on the same tools as the standard steel cars. Given the material differences between steel along with aluminium, the plan looks naïve nowadays, nevertheless which worked well enough.
The Lightweight never scored the race successes like the D-Type, nevertheless which was soon recognised as the rarest, quickest along with most beautiful of all E-Types, its provenance enhanced because which was often driven by such luminaries as Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart along with Roy Salvadori. Twelve cars were built of a planned batch of 18 before the company moved on.
All of which is actually why, about a week ago, I came to be standing in Jaguar’s newly commissioned Heritage workshops at Browns Lane, looking into a glass case at a hand-written ledger coming from 1963. One of its pages contained six numbers – along with six blank spaces for specifications – left there 52 years earlier for the half a dozen Lightweight E-Types never built.
These spaces, the recent launch of Jaguar Heritage inside Special Operations, along with the company’s current boast which which builds the entire world’s most advanced aluminium cars all induced its management to sanction the production of six ‘continuation’ Lightweights as FIA-approved racing cars for sale in 2015.
The cars, all sold, cost about £1 million each – modest beer against recent auction prices achieved for members of the original dozen, 11 of which survive.
My own Lightweight E-Type tour commenced in workshops at Whitley normally reserved for the creation of super-secret prototypes. There, Callum along with project manager Chris Burdett explained how several standard E-Types (whose original drawings were long gone) were measured, digitised along with corrected for the bumps along with bulges which were usual inside 1960s.
The left-hand side of a traditional E-Type was found to be the best, so which was scanned along with reversed to form the right-hand side. Resin tools were made along with production began, with only a handful of the automobile’s 340 components being made by outside suppliers. Work began at the start of 2014 along with so far a prototype (Car Zero) along with the first production car are finished. The second is actually in trim along with final assembly at Browns Lane, the third is actually being built along with all will be complete by Christmas.
The challenge, Burdett explains, has been to recreate the Lightweight E-Types using traditional materials along with joining methods to ensure which these can be fairly claimed to be true members of the Lightweight family, fulfilling FIA stipulations so they can be homologated as ‘period’ racing cars. Old-style rivets hold the panels together. The aluminium is actually as close as possible to the aluminium of 1963.
The engine is actually a dry-sumped, wide-angle-headed, alloy-blocked 3868cc XK straight six, as used in period by Lightweights nevertheless recently built by the East Sussex-based engineering firm Crosthwaite & Gardiner.
Customers can order which either with triple twin-throat Weber carburettors or with period Lucas mechanical fuel injection as an option. Power? Jaguar’s blurb talks about “well over 300bhp” on carbs, nevertheless those close to the project talk of 340bhp at 6000rpm (along having a 6000rpm redline) with 280lb ft of torque at 4500rpm if, as in Car Zero, the engine has fuel injection.
The gearbox is actually Jaguar’s ‘fresh for 1964’ all-synchromesh four-speeder. The wheels are familiar-looking centre-lock 15in alloys in rough-cast magnesium, 7.0in wide up front along with 8.0in at the rear, wearing Dunlop CR65 race tyres, whose tread pattern is actually every bit as iconic as the automobile’s shape.
On the Navarra circuit, 0 minutes south-east of Bilbao in northern Spain, I was allowed a few laps each in two fresh-generation Lightweights, Car Zero along with Car One, both to feel the difference between Weber along with Lucas fuelling along with to experience a fully finished car as an owner will do.
These are modest, beautiful cars, with exposed rivets which remind you of the Spitfire age. The doors are tiny nevertheless the cockpit, entirely untrimmed, incorporates a fairly familiar E-Type instrument along with dashboard design, having a turn-key start along having a row of toggle switches beneath, one of which activates the electric pumps which push fuel coming from the superb alloy tank, fed by a huge flip-top filler (along with having a secret modern bag tank within, for safety reasons).
Press an old-style button, not one of today’s dinner-plate editions, along with the engine erupts, shaking the automobile because which’s solidly mounted into the E-Type’s oddball structure, a frontal spaceframe which joins a monocoque at the firewall.
The engine blips with zero delay between foot movement along with exhaust blast. The seat feels low along with comfortable as you plug the gearlever into first, then notice surprising softness inside clutch as you move away. First gear is actually very tall; give which some revs or you’ll stall. To the modern driver, both engine versions need clearing if allowed to dawdle inside mid-ranges, nevertheless the fuel-injected one runs marginally more smoothly.
When given their head, both versions pull lustily. The whole car weighs only 1000kg, so 340bhp truly makes which go once which hits its stride. which’s not a quick 0-60mph car, because of the tall first gear, nevertheless coming from about 30mph the ratios, although few, seem closely enough stacked to suit the torque.
The brakes, 12.25in unassisted discs up front along with standard E-Type discs behind, feel distinctly vintage inside way you have to jump on the pedal to generate initial bite nevertheless quite secure once you get the hang of which. The steering, unassisted rack along with pinion, is actually the soul of directness via a huge, wood-rimmed wheel having a proper Jaguar motif inside middle.
However, beyond the beauty or the power or the steering is actually This specific Lightweight E’s wonderful handling balance. This specific is actually not a high-grip car in modern terms, although of course which has plenty of roadholding compared with conventional road cars. nevertheless the joy of driving which is actually inside beautiful balance, the feeling of zero roll in such a narrow car, along with the grace of its transition into an old-style drift. You corner This specific Lightweight E on the edge of oversteer, yet never with anything as low-rent as tail-happiness.
On those Dunlops, the automobile goes coming from full grip to less grip, dancing around its limits, having a willingness which is actually simply demeaned by the word ‘breakaway’. a few laps plus a few more as passenger to a more capable demo driver reminded me of the existence of genuinely benign, controllable on-limit handling in cars like This specific. which was an intoxicating experience which, along with the generous torque along with mighty din of which engine, made This specific car quite different coming from any modern of my experience.
For an inveterate believer which nearly all motoring progress is actually Great, This specific was a serious sanity check.
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