1961 Jaguar E-Type 'Lightweight' Recreation
Sold For £184,000Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
Documents: US Title
- The first of just eight E-Type ‘Lightweight’ recreations built by RS Panels
- FIA passport obtained in 2011
After a run of victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that concluded in 1957 and with the XK 150 in need of replacement, Jaguar’s attention turned to developing its first monocoque sports car. The first hint of what was to come was the E2A prototype, which broke cover at the 1960 Le Mans entered by privateer Briggs Cunningham.
Despite the factory’s retirement from competition, director Lofty England knew the value of publicity from motorsport. So, ahead of the E-Type’s 1961 Geneva launch, he offered early production roadsters to competitors with close Jaguar relationships, including Equipe Endeavour and John Coombs. Racers including Graham Hill and Roy Salvadori had notable successes until Ferrari’s 250 GTO was unveiled in 1962. Coombs had also bought a 250 GTO, so Jaguar’s Experimental Department borrowed it for assessment and in return made its E-Type a factory development car that would match or surpass the GTO in terms of performance.
Gaining an aluminium hardtop, lighter steel monocoque and a D-Type engine, the car was 45 kg lighter than the Ferrari. A further 11 cars were built to what became known as the lightweight specification that featured a 300-bhp alloy 3.8-litre engine with dry sump, a full aluminium monocoque and body panels, vented boot lid, revised suspension geometry, wider rear track and Dunlop alloy wheels.
In addition to those 12, the factory planned for a further six cars. The lightweights competed from 1963 in all the great period races, including Le Mans, Sebring and at the Nürburgring. But the demand from privateers was limited by Jaguar’s refusal to commit to more development – the cars were not even formally marketed by the firm – so no further buyers came forward. The new era of mid-engined endurance racers backed with serious investment by Ford and Porsche was beginning, and as Jaguar had more orders for E-Types than could be built, there was no need for a factory team. The 12 lightweights became Jaguar’s last true racing cars for a generation, and today the surviving examples can be found in some of the world’s finest collections.
The lightweight story was given a new chapter when Jaguar stunned the world by announcing in 2014 it would build the final six ‘continuation’ lightweight E-Types at Brown’s Lane. The first, ‘Car Zero’, was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the rest sold for £1,200,000. Among those who helped create the continuation cars were the team at RS Panels, who have worked on restorations for eight of the 12 original lightweight E-Types. The company is renowned for restoration work on Ferrari 250 GTOs, Aston Martin DB4 Zagatos and more for the world’s top marque specialists.
RS Panels has also made just eight of its own hand-built lightweight E-Types, based on original E-Type platforms, over the last 20 years, and this is one such example. The first of the eight examples built, this E-Type was built as company founder Bob Smith’s personal vehicle with the aim of competing in historic racing, not only an excellent marketing tool for his company, but a fantastic way to take to the track and enjoy the ultimate evolution of the E-Type at speed. It started out as a 1961 roadster before the two-year transformation began in 1996. It was finished in British Racing Green with a black factory-correct hardtop and green leather bucket seats. The alloy body, assigned RSP 003, has all the correct lightweight features. The specification included a race-prepared 4.2-litre dry sump engine with 45 DCOE Weber carburettors, a four-speed synchromesh close-ratio gearbox, the correct Dunlop alloy wheels as well as a full roll cage. As part of preparation, the car gained an FIA Historic Technical Passport in 2011.
Plans for racing were halted and the car was sold to Julian Masters in Santa Barbara, California, who used the car only sparingly. After changing hands to an owner on Long Island, New York, it was driven on the annual Copperstate 1000 Rally in Arizona. It was then sold to a collector and kept in East Hampton, New York. In a recent conversation with the consignor, he commented that it is an amazing car to drive both on the road and on the track, with an abundance of torque its acceleration is truly intoxicating.
Driven just 1,500 miles, the car is ready for campaigning in historic races or to enjoy as a fast road GT. With all original and continuation lightweight E-Types now in collections, this car represents the best opportunity to own a very rare, legendary ’60s GT.