Plans to produce the remaining six units of the absolutely gorgeous Jaguar Lightweight E-Type have been in public knowledge for a few months now, and now we see the first result of the efforts of Jaguar’s new Heritage division – the “Car Zero” prototype.
Veteran Jaguar aficionados will probably remember that in 1963, Jaguar only made 12 out of the planned 18 units of the race-bred GT. These new cars, then, will be a continuation of that run, recreated faithfully to the exact specifications of the originals and carry the six remaining chassis numbers originally assigned to the cars when the “Special GT E-Type” project began in February 1963.
What set the Lightweight apart from regular E-Types was its all-aluminium body, which shaved some 114 kg off. Despite Jaguar’s advanced knowhow of the material gained from its latest models, modern materials or bonding methods will not be used for the new run.
Instead, today’s technology will only be used to ensure the highest quality of reproduction. The bodyshell of an original Lightweight was scanned throughly, and the shapes and surface geometry were optimised to produce tooling that is as accurate as possible. The engineers even went so far as to use only one side of the scanned body as the datum, mirroring the data for the other side to ensure absolute symmetry.
Under the bonnet sits an uprated version of the XK straight-six engine that had been in use since 1948. In this application, the engine has been bored out to 3.9 litres, the cylinder head utilises a big valve “wide angle” design similar to the D-Type, the block is fashioned out of aluminium and a dry sump is fitted. Buyers of the new run can specify either triple Weber carburettors or an optional Lucas mechanical fuel injection system.
No matter which one you pick, Jaguar quotes a power figure of “well over” 300 bhp and a torque output of around 380 Nm. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a low-inertia flywheel, a single-plate clutch and a period-correct close-ratio synchromesh four-speed manual gearbox.
The Lightweight features double wishbone front suspension and a wide-based wishbone rear suspension, with uprated dampers controlling the torsion bar springs at the front and the four rear coil springs. The rack-and-pinion steering from the regular E-Type is carried over, and the unassisted brakes are larger at the front than its standard brethren. The wheels are period 15-inch “perforated” items shod in Dunlop racing rubber.
This “Car Zero” is effectively an engineering prototype that has undergone a 15-day shakedown period at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon test facility to evaluate the car’s dynamics and optimise suspension settings, and is not part of the new six-car run. The actual cars will be sold as period race cars suitable for FIA homologation for historic racing, and will be fitted with a roll cage as standard.
The new Lightweights will be minimally trimmed in Connolly leather as standard, but customers can opt for a more fully-trimmed interior, including door cards, headlining and floor mats. Buyers can also choose from a variety of colours in addition to the six recommended “heritage” hues of Carmine red, opalescent grey metallic, silver metallic, opalescent blue metallic, British racing green and Old English white.