The E-Type Lightweight is quite rightly remembered as one of the most beautiful Jaguar racing cars ever made. Just 12 were made for the 1963 season, shaving a remarkable 114kg from a standard E-Type kerbweight with aluminium throughout, then six more were made by Jaguar Classic in 2014 - the half dozen 'missing' chassis numbers. Whether you say there were 12 or 18, the Lightweight is an E-Type like no other - the inspiration for many notable homage cars over the years. None of the tributes or recreations have been quite like this one, though...
This is the Lightweight GT by Eagle, the company we all know for its prized work on Jag's most famous sports car since the very first was made in 1994. Story goes for this car that a customer came to Eagle's East Sussex HQ with a very simple vision: to create the Eagle interpretation of a factory E-Type Lightweight. Which is quite a cool dream to have.
The result, as you can see, is sublime. A standard Series 1 base was stripped, every panel then replaced with modern, lightweight aluminium - a 2,500-hour task for Eagle's craftsmen. To get the authentic Lightweight look, this E-Type has received new arches to accommodate larger magnesium wheels, deeper sills, increased screen rake front and rear plus a deeper ramp angle. It's said in this world that nothing is perfect, but we can hopefully all agree this E-Type gets pretty damn close.
Power comes from the Eagle evolution of Jaguar's illustrious XK straight six; displacing 4.7-litres and with bespoke cranks, rods, and pistons, it makes 385hp at 5,750rpm and a chunky 375lb ft at 4,000rpm. Just like the '60s Lightweights that it aims to evoke, this Eagle car has an aluminium block as well as a wide-angle head, housing bigger valves and a racier cam. Eagle says the Lightweight is "effortlessly fast", with an "urgent, howling dash for the redline" as it sprints to 60mph in less than five seconds and onto more than 170mph. Nice.
Perhaps where the Eagle Lightweight GT deviates most from the original is in being a more accommodating road car. Designed explicitly to go racing, those E-Types were understandably uncompromising; this car instead "fuses the character and charm of the original Jaguar E-Type with the intoxicating thrills of a 1963 factory Lightweight, thoughtfully and comprehensively re-engineered to ensure the new owner enjoys every mile, every day." That's the claim of founder Henry Pearman - if the reality is half as good as that it sounds, it will surely be sensational.
To achieve the stated aim, Eagle has been through the E-Type with a meticulously keen eye to improve it; when 3D printing has been used to make new seat adjustment levers for the benefit of finger room, you know it's been a pretty thorough reworking. The Lightweight influence is taken care of by using magnesium, titanium and Inconel in the construction of vital bits, keeping weight down to 1,017kg, The GT aspect is clear to see in the richly trimmed cockpit, air conditioning and complete overhaul of the rear bulkhead, pedal mountings and floorpan for a more accommodating driving position. Ohlins dampers unique to Eagle are present and adjustable for however much Lightweight track attack or GT cruiser vibe is required dynamically. The gearbox and brakes have been upgraded to match, as with all the Eagle creations, and new thermal barrier materials mean the interior should be kept a lot cooler than any E-Type that first left Jaguar.
All in, Eagle says that each of these Lightweight GTs takes 8,000 hours of work, which probably explains why just two a year will be made. This is the first of the Lightweights, and it's easy to imagine many more being commissioned once word spreads. The stated aim was said to be "to retain the special feel of a 60s competition car from an incredible era in British motorsport, but with the comfort, refinement and reliability that would make it an exhilarating daily driver or long-distance GT." If Eagle has achieved that with this car - and everything up to this point would suggest that's entirely possible - then the Lightweight looks like being perhaps the most desirable Eagle yet built. Praise can surely come no higher.
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