It’s not unheard of for a car’s production to be interrupted for a few months or even a couple of years, but half a century is pushing it a bit. Jaguar announced today that it plans to complete the 18-car production run of the Jaguar Lightweight E-Type, which was suspended in 1964 after only 12 of the high-performance sports car were built.
The E-type was one of the all-time classic cars. It hit exactly the right mix of the old and the new with its monocoque body, engine bonnet that seemed to go on forever and passenger cabin that looked as if it was hanging on for dear life. There was such an air of pure art to it that even the engine was beautiful, and unlike many high-performance cars, you could drive it at 10 mph without feeling like it was trying to rattle your fillings out of your teeth. Between 1961 and 1974 over 72,500 cars were produced, which is remarkable when you consider how notoriously unreliable it was.
Aimed at the racing crowd, the Lightweight E-Type, as the name suggests, was a stripped down version with 114 kg (250 lb) shaved off for more speed and better performance. It differed from the standard E-Type in having an all-aluminum monocoque and aluminum body panels over a steel chassis, as well as a 3.8-liter, straight six XK engine with an aluminum engine block and head. To further keep the weight down, the interior trim and chrome work were left off, and even the windows were designed to save the odd ounce.
Since it managed 170 mph (274) from its 344 bhp (257 kW) engine, and was raced by the likes of Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Roy Salvadori and Briggs Cunningham, the engineers must have done something right.
The Lightweight E-Type started production in February 1963 with 18 cars planned, but only 12 were built when production ended in 1964, plus two spare bodies. The remaining six chassis numbers were left on hold for half a century and, according to Jaguar, only 11 of the cars are believed to still be intact.
Described by Jaguar as its first ever “re-creation” project, the goal is to complete the final six cars of the long-suspended production run of the “Special GT E-type Cars.” Jaguar says that these will be perfect reproductions to the exact original specifications and will be hand-built for their public debut later this year. Not surprisingly, the company expects a lot of interest from collectors.