Jaguar has unveiled the first of six reborn Lightweight E-types, which will go on sale internationally, following their debut at the upcoming Pebble Beach concours event in California. The new examples complete the ‘Special GT E-type’ project that was started in 1963. Just 12 of the planned 18-car original run were built. The remaining six chassis numbers are set to appear on the newly created Lightweight E-types. Designed for racing, the Lightweight E-types will be built to the exact specification of the original cars, allowing them to be used in historic racing events.
Power comes from an aluminium-block 3.8-litre straight six engine, which turns out 335bhp and 38.7kgm of torque. It drives through a four-speed manual gearbox and is based on the engine that powered the D-type to Le Mans victory in 1957. Crucial to the E-type’s design is its lightweight aluminium bodyshell, which saves 114kg over the standard E-type. Jaguar engineers have decided to eschew modern construction methods, as used on the aluminium-bodied F-type and XJ, in favour of the original techniques.
Inner and outer surfaces of the car were digitally scanned, with most body panels then being reproduced at Jaguar’s Whitley engineering centre. With the bodywork complete, the cars will be mated to the engine’s subframe before being transferred to the company’s Browns Lane site to be completed.
The Lightweight E-type features twin-wishbone suspension at the front and an independent wide-based wishbone set-up at the rear, tuned to perform best under racing conditions. The E-type’s rack and pinion steering is fitted and the car sits on 15-inch wheels. An aluminium hard-top is also included. Inside, aluminium bucket seats feature in a functional-looking cabin, which has a wood-trimmed steering wheel and push-button starter.
The project is being overseen by Jaguar Heritage, part of Jaguar Land Rover’s new Special Operations division. The first of the new Lightweight E-types, dubbed Car Zero, will be shown at Pebble Beach before six other examples are built. Jaguar design boss Ian Callum said, "With the Lightweight E-type, our focus as a design team has been to ensure justice was done to the original work of Sir William Lyons and Malcolm Sayer. I believe the result is a new Lightweight E-type that is as stunning now as the originals would have been when they were new."