Eagle's new Lightweight GT: Is this the ultimate Jaguar E-Type?
East Sussex, England - Few will deny that the Jaguar E-Type is one of the most beautiful and desirable classic cars that money can buy, but would you be prepared to live with the potential pitfalls of buying such an old car? What if you could buy one that was in showroom condition, and with some modern features to boot?
That’s exactly what UK restoration specialist Eagle is offering, and that’s something we most certainly admire.
Eagle’s latest product is the Eagle Lightweight GT, which as the name implies, is a nod to Jaguar’s E-Type Lightweight race car, of which only 12 were ever built.
“An Eagle E-Type is always an ultimate development of the model, with each variation created for a different type of driver,” says Eagle founder Henry Pearman. “Three years ago, a customer asked us to create Eagle’s vision of Jaguar’s ultimate E-Type, the Lightweight. The result of that project is the Eagle Lightweight GT, rigorously developed and proven and now ready for further builds.”
Because the original E-Type Lightweight was a stripped out racer, this project became Eagle’s most demanding to date. The restoration specialist wanted to retain the special feel of the 1960s race car, but with the kind of comfort, refinement and reliability that you’d expect from a daily driver or long distance GT car.
So what goes into an Eagle E-Type?
Although an actual Jaguar E-Type is the starting point for an Eagle car, the vehicle is then thoroughly re-engineered during an 8000 hour process that sees every single body panel replaced with a lightweight aluminium of a modern grade, which is more suited to road use than the thin, fragile material of the original cars. 2500 hours alone go into hand-crafting the new panels, which are then fitted to a tolerance more demanding than those specified by Jaguar’s Competition Department.
While the car’s gorgeous profile is faithfully created, there are subtle enhancements to the aerodynamics, including a deeper rear ramp angle, deeper sills and an increased screen rake. The wheel arches are also enlarged to accommodate the 16-inch peg-drive magnesium alloy wheels, which are wider than the original E-Type’s.
Perched beneath the long bonnet is Eagle’s 4.7-litre evolution of the original Jaguar XK straight six. Factory Lightweights were specified with an aluminium block, replacing the iron block of road cars, and this upgrade has been replicated by Eagle. A bespoke crankshaft, pistons and con rods improve responsiveness and durability, while a wide-angle head accommodates larger valves and a higher lift camshaft for improved breathing.
The engine produces 283kW at 5750rpm and 508Nm from 4000 revs, and gets the car from zero to 96km/h in under five seconds, and on to a top speed of 274km/h.
The manual gearbox has also been carefully re-engineered, with all five forward gears featuring synchromesh, and each ratio designed to ensure a seamless flow of torque.
Thanks to the extensive use of lightweight materials such as magnesium, Inconel and titanium, the Eagle Lightweight GT weighs just 1017kg.
Buyers can look forward to a more comfortable cabin too, thanks to a cosier set of seats, while the design of the floorpan, pedal mountings and the rear bulkhead have been tweaked to “dramatically” increase legroom in the E-Type’s notoriously cramped cabin.
In the words of Eagle founder Henry Pearman, the Lightweight GT is “as good as an E-Type can be”.
Eagle hasn’t disclosed how much this new model costs, but if its previous creations are anything to go by then buyers are looking at more than a million US dollars (which is around R17.3m).