The elevation of the GT class to Manufacturers’ Championship status for 1963 prompted Jaguar to develop a small batch of very special lightweight cars to challenge Ferrari. The FIA’s regulations for the Gran Turismo category stipulated that a minimum of 100 cars had to be built, but permitted coachwork modifications, thus enabling Jaguar to claim that its lightweights were standard E-types fitted with altered bodywork. (This is the same loophole exploited by Ferrari to get the limited edition 250 GTO homologated, by claiming that they were re-bodied 250 GTs). In fact, all 12 lightweight E-Types constructed in period were built from scratch with aluminium bodies, though they were invoiced as a new standard road car with additional modifications and numbered in the normal production sequence, albeit with an ‘S’ chassis number prefix.
To create the 1963 lightweight version, the E-Type’s steel monocoque tub and outer body panels were remanufactured in aluminium and the engine dry-sumped and fitted with an alloy cylinder block, ‘wide-angle’ head and Lucas mechanical fuel injection, producing in excess of 300bhp. The production four-speed gearbox was used initially before a ZF five-speed unit was adopted towards the end of 1963. ‘4 WPD’, the works development E-Type racer campaigned by John Coombs and driven by Graham Hill, was converted to lightweight specification and served as the prototype.
The 12 cars built by the factory were intended for the use of competition orientated Jaguar dealers or specially selected private entrants. Today, modern interpretations of these rare competition variants are among the most popular and sought after of all E-Types.
This beautiful matching numbers UK- delivered example had been subject to a “nut and bolt” rebuild to Semi-Lightweight specification, which was completed to a very high standard. The body was rebuilt and finished by Brian Wilkinson of Zealia Engineering, very well known and highly regarded for his accurate recreations of the factory Lightweight cars.
During the build the doors, boot, bonnet and roof were replaced with lightweight aluminium items, and both side and rear windows replaced with Perspex screens. As in period, the correct air vents were added to the roof and boot, and the wheel-arches extended with correct extensions as per Le Mans regulations. Finally, aluminium buckets seats, clad in period-correct blue leather, were fitted to the interior, whilst a set of magnesium knock-off wheels complete the exterior of the car.
Mechanically the E-Type enjoyed many race-orientated upgrades. Notably the original 4.2 litre motor was fully rebuilt by Rob Beere and mated to triple Weber carburettors, breathing through a stainless steel free-flowing manifold and full stainless exhaust. Twin fuel pumps were fitted, in addition to an oil cooler, breather tank and aluminium radiator to improve engine cooling. The braking system was also upgraded and the suspension was also improved with a new adjustable setup.
This wonderful E-Type has been completed to an exceptionally high standard, is licenced for the road and presented in truly outstanding condition. So much so that the car won “Best In Class” at the Warren Concours in 2016, and was invited to be displayed at the Hampton Court Concours in September 2017.
With c.5,000 miles recorded since completion, this is an extremely fast, well balanced car with upgrades that inspire confidence to drive the car at ten tenths. A mouthwatering prospect for the E-Type enthusiast and an amazing road car for any keen driver. Chassis IE20883 will be offered with a current UK MoT certificate, UK V5 document and Jaguar Heritage Certificate.