Jaguar Lightweight E-type continuation car revisited

The first of Jaguar's continuation cars was the Lightweight E-type, followed by the XKSS and the D-type. Here’s how it was done

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The theory is simple: in 1963, Jaguar planned to build 18 of its Lightweight E-type race cars, but actually completed only 12 of them. So in 2014, four decades on, the marque started on the build of the other six cars (plus a ‘Car Zero’ prototype).

This was the first of Jaguar’s continuation cars, which led onto the XKSS and the D-type. It also acted as the flagship project for the new heritage division, which has since quickly grown into Jaguar Land Rover Classic, with its huge stand-alone HQ in Coventry.

The Lightweight E-types, though, were built at the historic Browns Lane plant – or what remained of it at the time. After painstaking research by the Jaguar team, much of it out of hours, the prototype was built by nearby RS Panels, but the following six continuation cars were all assembled at Browns Lane, with some panels produced on the original press tools.

The bodies were mostly riveted together, just as the originals were, due to the difficulty in period of welding aluminium. Engines came from Crosthwaite & Gardiner, Jaguar having paid for the tooling to recast the alloy engine block, cylinder heads and many of the minor parts.

The prototype was fitted with Lucas fuel injection, but buyers of the six ‘real’ continuation cars were given the choice of fuel injection or the rather easier-to-manage triple 45DCO3 Webers, just as the models would have had in period. Either way, around 340bhp was achieved.

Great efforts were made to keep the construction of the cars authentic rather than updating them with modern materials, although a non-period rollcage was added. Otherwise, everything was as a Lightweight should be: four-speed gearbox (some original Lightweights were fitted with five-speed ZFs, but parts are scarce), single-plate clutch, lightweight flywheel, Powr-Lok limited-slip differential with a choice of final-drive ratios, as in period.

The wheels were magnesium Dunlops, 7in wide at the front, 8in at the rear, with Dunlop CR65 race tyres. The interior materials were as closely matched to the originals as possible, using Connolly leather for the bucket seats and the dash top.

All six of the continuation Lightweight E-types were pre-sold almost immediately, at significantly more than £1 million each, although it was well over a year before all were completed. The success of the project worldwide paved the way for further continuation cars, and a succession of Jaguar Land Rover Classic projects, such as the Land Rover V8 and even the E-type Zero electric car concept.

Archive image courtesy of LAT Images.

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