Jaguar Lightweight E-type – the 1960s icon reimagined for 2014

Published: 12 August 2014

Jaguar has come good on its promise to finish off the six unused E-type chassis numbers to make half a dozen very special sports cars. The new Jaguar Lightweight E-type, unveiled today in Pebble Beach, Monterey, is the result: a stunning retro classic reimagined in painstaking period detail for 2014.

Built by Jaguar Land Rover’s new Special Operations division at a new facility in old Browns Lane, the Lightweight E-type is also a shot across the bows of specialists such as Eagle, who have been making hay creating modern-day E’s.

Click here to read CAR's review of the Eagle E-type.

Jag promises no more than six Lightweights will ever be made; each one uses one of the remaining chassis numbers originally allocated in 1963 to the planned 18-car run of Special GT E-types. Only a dozen were in fact produced.

Fifty-one years later, that is being rectified. Talk about inflation, though: the Lightweight is tipped to cost in the region of £1,000,000.

Picture gallery: 11 details to drool over on the new Lightweight E-type.

Jaguar Lightweight E-type: spec, details

The new 2014-spec Lightweight follows the blueprint of the 1963 original - with some modern safety and comfort concessions. The car you see here is a period competition vehicle homologated by the FIA for historic motorsport in 2014. Hence the first official pictures largely showing the Lightweight E-type on track.

Carrying the ‘missing’ six Lightweight E-type chassis numbers, the new models are clothed in an aluminium bodyshell. The 1960s originals ditched the E’s steel body panels for an alloy body, shedding 114kg in the process. But Jaguar has eschewed the modern bonding and riveting processes it’s carefully nurtured on vehicles such as the XJ and F-type, preferring period fixtures.

Not that the 2014 Jaguar Lightweight E-type is an old-school knock-off. Browns Lane says it digitally mapped an original car’s body to make sure the six new bodies were an identical replica. No mean feat when there are 230 individual components in the body alone.

The car you see here is ‘Car Zero’ – a prototype to be shown at Pebble Beach. The six customer cars will be in addition.

A straight six XK engine for the Lightweight E-type

Jaguar’s straight six XK motor is fitted to the Lightweight – the same engine used by the C- and D-types which won Le Mans five times in the 1950s and 1960s, but given a thorough modernisation. The aluminium block is 3868cc in capacity, with chain-driven twin overhead cams and a wide-angle aluminium cylinder head.

Although the D-type used an iron block, it's now made from an ally to improve weight distribution. The D's dry sump lubrication system is borrowed for the Lightweight E and three Weber carburettors are fitted (when did we last write that?), although buyers can choose a Lucas mechanical fuel injection system.

Jaguar quotes ‘well over’ 300bhp and around 280lb ft at 4500rpm. A period four-speed syncromesh manual gearbox sends drive to the rear wheels.

How will the Lightweight E-type drive?

Like the period racer it is, we’d reckon. Double wishbone suspension is deployed front and rear and standard E-type rack and pinion steering is controlled through a traditional wooden wheel. Brakes are unservoed and the wheels are a pleasingly bijou 15in in diameter.

The cabin of the new Lightweight E-type is a special place to sit. No two are expected to be the same, as customers can tailor the car to suit, but Connolly leather is provided to the same spec as in 1964 and you perch on a period aluminium bucket seat. Buyers can pick from a fully trimmed interior or one that’s more pared back for that authentic historic racer vibe at Goodwood or Laguna Seca.

Much of Car Zero’s cabin is left unpainted, displaying the aluminium innards to greater effect. Six heritage paint schemes are recommended: Carmine red, opalescent grey metallic, silver metallic, opalescent blue metallic, British racing green, Old English white, although Jag admits millionaires can choose any colour they like; a coffee with design director Ian Callum is included in the price - as is a newly commissioned Bremont watch.

More Jaguar recreations to come?

The Lightweight E-type ‘is the first recreation to come from Jaguar Heritage,’ the company says, suggesting more period cars could be recreated. In an age when classic car values and interest are soaring, JLR could be on to a good thing - although others will worry it dilutes the progressive modernity it so desperately craves with cars like the new XE.

The E-type was built between 1961 and 1975, with 72,500 examples sold. That number looks set to nudge up just a little with the arrival of the Lightweight E-type.

Click here to read LJK Setright on the Jaguar E-type.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet