JAGUAR E-TYPE LOW DRAG COUPE
WHEN PICTURE SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDSText and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis
What is the world’s most beautiful car? Is it the Ferrari 250GTO, Toyota GT2000, Lamborghini Miura or maybe the Bugatti Type 57? For me, it has to be the British cult icon - Jaguar E-Type. There’s no denying that the E-Type has one of the world’s most iconic car designs in the automotive history; it is instantly recognisable and was once voted the most iconic British car ever built.
“The most beautiful car ever made” (Enzo Ferrari), “Top Sports car of the 1960” (Sports Car International), “Number 1 of 100 most beautiful cars of all time” (The Daily Telegraph), do I have to keep going?
Built by the British car manufacturer Jaguar between 1961-1975 it was the ultimate grand tourer. The E-Type was built based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Jaguar D-Type race car. If being lightweight, real wheel driven and absurdly fast (top speed of 150mph and acceleration of 6.8 seconds to 62mph from a standstill) wasn’t enough it also was the best looking car one could buy. The lines of the E-Type organically flow from lights to to the raked windscreens; it was designed to be the ultimate sports car of its day. Just look at this side profile and name me a better looking one (that does sound weird when I read it back now), but really…just look at it.
However, this is a story of no ordinary E-Type.
But before we talk about it I want you to meet Jackie – a car engineer/ restorer, a race driver, a perfectionist and genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve met. Jackie is the owner of “JC Restorations” (a Northern Irish based classic car restoration company). Jackie is one of those people that reminded me of a walking encyclopaedia (or Wikipedia if you’re the Internet generation) – his knowledge of car engineering is astounding as is his talent, and not to mention the passion for racing. I could have spent hours and hours talking to him (and we did) before realising the day was passing by and we needed to get on with the shoot. However, before we did I was taken on a tour around his workplace and shown some of the cars Jackie has restored over the years.
I first met Jackie at a local car event where he brought along 2 amazing Jaguars that I instantly fell in love with: his wife’s amazing Jaguar E-Type and a magnificent XK 140C. Both of the cars looked like they’ve just left the factory, in fact, maybe even better.
I am so grateful I had a chance to meet them on the day and following a chat with Jackie I was invited to shoot something more special he just finished restoring.
What if you desire a classic Jaguar and there aren’t any for sale? What if none are in a specification you’d like; what if you’d want it with modern upgrades and custom set up? This is where custom build companies like Eagle and JC Restorations etc. can help you out. And dear petrolheads, this is where the term “built not bought” should be used, not so much in an instance where a lad throws a new set of wheels, air suspension and stickers on his VW Bora. It took almost 18 months of full time hard work to rebuild this magnificent car. The Rebuild was done by JC Restorations and in-house.
72 thousand E-Types. 12 Racing Cars, 2 Low Drag Coupes… Let that sink in.
Based on the racing pedigree Jaguar D-Type, the E-Type translated into a street legal race car for public roads; it was a masterpiece of the time. However, Jaguar decided it wasn’t enough and shortly after the launch of E-Type Series 1 requested their engineers to produce a lighter and more powerful race version of the E-Type. Only 12 were ever built; one of them was purchased by two privateers from UK - Peter Lumsden and Peter Sergeant in 1963.
Having raced it in the 1963 season in some of the most predominant races around the globe the couple realised the car wasn’t good enough in its current shape to compete WITH the likes of Ferrari, Shelby and Aston Martin, yet they refused to surrender to the works teams. The team decided to further improve the race version of the E-Type, building the most aerodynamically efficient model – Low Drag Coupe, known to the world only by its registration plate 49 FXN. The team hired a young London based mechanical engineer Sammy Clat who turned out to be a genius. Along with further help from garage owner Jack Playford and his sons, John and Brian they bashed the E-Type race car with rubber MALLETS and tested on public roads with wool tufts attached enabling them to monitor air flow and perfect the aerodynamics. The Low drag coupe, as the name suggests was designed to reduce the drag and improve the aerodynamics. This was achieved by a broader, higher and flatter rear roof section that was welded shut. What a team of A few people did on THE M1 in England in THE current engineering world requires a separate department and a few billions.
This car became one of the most iconic cars in the history. Only 2 modified low drag body E-Types were built, with only one having a proper racing heritage. The original 49 FXN car was raced all over the globe and can be still seen raced in the likes of Goodwood. It has survived to modern days and remains in the hands of a private collector.
When a picture speaks a thousand words… In this case all I am left to say is just look at it. Just bloody look at it.
The aerodynamic body lines of this car are a WORK of art. The ultra wide and curved windscreen requires three windscreen wipers. Every detail on this car is majestic, from mirrors, headlights, taillights, the tiny doors to the beefy rear – just magnificent!
The Jaguar E-Type series 1 low drag coupe body was made out of aluminium and fully hand made by RS Panels in United Kingdom. The complete car is aluminium except the main chassis rails that are made of steel. The car was then finished in spectacular Gunmetal Grey by JC Restorations.
Whilst the original race car lacked ANY CREATURE COMFORTS this car was built for everyday driving in mind so retains the carpets, sound insulation, beautiful custom re-trimmed roof linen, stereo etc. The Interior has been finished in remarkable red leather and was trimmed by Suffolk & Turley in UK.
A button labelled “snowflake” (I am not referring the generation of folks that can be easily offended but an actual flake made of snow) looked very distrustful on the dashboard, for I believe an aircon in THE ‘60ies wasn’t an optional extra. Having been designed for a modern commuting the car was actually equipped with a modern air con system and a custom retro-look button installed on the dashboard.
The Jaguar E-Type dashboard is a masterpiece, Leonardo Da Vinci himself, would AGREE. Each dial, knob, button is a masterpiece and finished to perfection. The steering wheel itself is light, beautiful and a joy to use.
I seriously would disagree with anybody that would suggest there is a more beautiful interior (and exterior) THAN that of an E-Type.
Built as a fast road car this low drag coupe was treated to the best set ups. It is glued to the road thanks to the Gaz shock absorbers and front competition torsion bars, with coil over suspension at the rear. To help with stopping this beast it has been beefed up with the modern AP Racing 5000+callipers with large ventilated discs.
The iconic multispoke wheels are 15 inch in diameter with a 7.5J width at the rear and 6.5J at the front.
Imagine 1960s – everything you’d drive would handle like a boat and look like a boat. And then there was the E-Type: lightweight, agile and capable of 150mph. One Zero Five in 1960 on a public road with no speed cameras, no modern tires or brakes. How scary and exciting times were back then.
This magnificent low drag coupe is powered by the astonishing 3.8 litre naturally aspirated engine that was built by Corsswaite & Gardner in England. The aluminium engine features a wide angle cylinder head running triple 45 Webber’s. The hot air gets pushed out through a 6 branch manifold and a competition exhaust system. To keep the weight down all brackets are aluminium, as is the oil cooler radiator and header tank. The engine price alone would equate to your average supercarspotter subject on their Instagram feed.
The engine is coupled to the iconic T5 Tremec gearbox where the 5th gear is an overdrive. The rear axle is also made from yes, you guessed it: aluminium and was modified by BPA Engineering UK.
It is one of the most aggressive engines I’ve seen and for a public road is just bonkers. It sings in every gear and begs you to drive it.
I genuinely do think this was one of the most photogenic, iconic and spectacular cars I’ve shot and I also feel very privileged to have met such a man as Jackie. I really WISH there WERE more people on the Planet like Jackie that continues to use THEIR talent and knowledge to restore the history, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy these cars for years to come.
For more info about the car and JC Restorations visit their site: www.jcrestorations.co.uk