The Jaguar Lightweight E-Type: Iconic Automobile History Reborn
The Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach in California sees the world’s finest classic (and modern) cars assemble each August for a week of sheer automotive heaven.
No surprise that a few car companies use the prestigious event to launch new models, and one of the most anticipated releases of 2014 is a new rendition of a fabled historic sports car in an excruciatingly minuscule edition of just 6 examples, which will leave many collectors in tears.
The re-edition of the Jaguar Lightweight E-Type is the very first re-creation project that Jaguar has ever engaged in. The prototype (“Car Zero”) was unveiled on August 14, 2014 as Pebble Beach officially opened.
The original E-Type, which enjoys a legendary reputation, was produced between 1963 and 1964. As Jaguar’s head of design Ian Callum explained during a recent intimate exchange in the company’s factory in Gaydon, England, Jaguar had originally planned 18 Lightweight E-Type cars, whose body was crafted in aluminum; however, Jaguar ended up only building 12 of them.
Reports confirm that of those 12, two were converted into low-drag format for increased road speed, while another two were destroyed in crashes (one apparently having been rebuilt). Jaguar believes that 11 of the original 12 are still in existence.
Each and every example of this iconic automobile is incredibly rare and therefore inestimably valuable.
Callum revealed that Jaguar is now rebuilding the remaining 6 pieces of this 50-year-old series to launch at Pebble Beach 2014.
Using the same chassis code, Jaguar is manufacturing the Lighweight E-Type according to the plans from the 1960s, but obviously utilizing modern versions of the materials.
“It is important to understand the history of Jaguar and the character of the car these came from,” Callum remarks regarding the quasi-iconic design of the Lightweight E-Type; it cannot be stressed enough that the project is unique in that it represents Jaguar’s very first foray into a re-creation project.
Callum confirmed that the all-aluminum E-Types will be assigned the six remaining chassis numbers originally allocated in 1963.
These new cars are fully hand-built at Jaguar’s factory according to the original specifications, but the future owner – all six are naturally already spoken for – can specify a range of bespoke options. First pick of these exquisitely and appropriately rare automobiles was given to established Jaguar collectors with a focus on those with an interest in historical race cars.
The Lightweight E-Type weighs approximately 114 kg (250 pounds) less than the standard E-Type, thanks to the use of aluminum in the body and engine block as well as various other weight-saving measures including a stripped interior.
Callum explained that the emotional value of Jaguar’s general design and the E-Type in particular have played a huge role in the brand’s success with consumers over the years. In fact, Callum said that a Jaguar’s design is equally as important as the car’s performance. Jaguar employs 500 people among design staff alone.
“Jaguar is all about visual proportion,” Callum reminded me. “Every last millimeter.”
As a historic side note, Jaguar Lightweight E-Types were raced in their day by the likes of Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Roy Salvadori and Briggs Cunningham. The Lightweights continue to race in historic motorsport races, though none were in evidence at the 2014 Mille Miglia. Maybe we’ll see them there from 2015 now?
Jaguar has partnered with English watch brand Bremont to make a matching set of six wristwatches, appropriately engraved with the same vehicle identification numbers (VIN) as the cars and whose case bands contain aluminum from the construction of the new Lightweights. Naturally, the owners of the new Lightweight E-Types have the first right of refusal when it comes to these wristwatches.
For information on the six limited edition watches made by Bremont in celebration of this re-edition of the Jaguar Lightweight E-Type, please read Bremont Jaguar Lightweight E-Type Wristwatch Launches Together With Ultra-Rare Automobile Re-Creation.
Quick facts Jaguar Lightweight E-Type
Body: monocoque body shell, doors, trunk lid, hardtop and hood in aluminum
Engine: 3.8 liter, Lucas mechanical fuel injection, Jaguar 4-speed gearbox, aluminum block and cylinder head, straight-six (internal combustion with six cylinders in line) XK engine
Power: over 300 horsepower, torque 280 lb/ft at 4,500 rpm
Fuel: 14-gallon (64-liter) capacity
Steering: standard E-Type rack-and-pinion with traditional wood-rim wheel; no servo
Measurements: 175.3 inches (4,453 mm) in length; 66.9 inches (1,700 mm) inches width; 46.5 inches (1,181 mm) in height; 2204.6 lbs (1,000 kg) in weight
Limitation: 6 examples, each fully customizable as they are hand-built
Price: not disclosed