Jaguar To Complete Lightweight Special E-type Production Run After 50 Years

Jaguar's iconic E-type occupies a special place in auto fans' hearts with the all-aluminum, Special GT E-Type race cars being the most special of them all. A half-century ago, Jaguar built 12 of these “Lightweight” E-types for the 1964 racing season.

The original plans called for 18 cars, however. Now Jaguar plans to complete, by hand, the remaining 6 Special GT E-Types using the chassis numbers originally designated for them.

A little over 70,000 E-types were produced over a 14-year long production run that ended in 1975, and even the somewhat bloated 2+2 and V12-engined final iterations weren't able to tarnish the timeless beauty of one of Britain's most famous sports cars. Really, what else would one expect Austin Powers to drive?

Great looks aside, the early E-types were all about performance being the direct descendants of Jaguar's race-winning C- and D-types. As such, in 1963 (two years after the E-type was introduced) the company set out to build a small number of Special GT E-Types intended to compete shoulder-to-shoulder with racetrack rivals Ferrari, Mercedes, and Alfa Romeo.

It was determined that using aluminum for both the 6-cylinder engine block and the monocoque body could save several hundred pounds of dead weight, a godsend for racers of any era.

Jaguar's competition department completed the first Special GT E-type in February of 1963 with the twelfth and last one finished in 1964. It's a tribute to the high regard these cars have in the historic automobile community that out of the 12 completed cars, 11 have survived until today.

Perhaps Jaguar is aware of this fact; perhaps it was brought to someone's attention that the final 6 serial numbers were never used – perhaps both. Jaguar retains a firm grip on the pulse of their fan base, however, and once it was determined the Special GT E-type production run could be completed – and more importantly, sold at a profit – the company swung into action.

Jaguar's skilled craftsmen were given their marching orders: hand-build the final 6 Special GT E-types as perfect reproductions of the originals using the exact specifications set out for them 50 years ago. Those would include an aluminum-block 3.8-litre straight-six engine.

The long-delayed run is expected to wind up sometime this summer and “Established Jaguar collectors,” announced Jaguar in a prepared statement, “especially those with historic race car interests, will be prioritised amongst those potential customers who express interest.” How delightfully low-key!

Historic race car interests aside, you may be sure deep-pocketed potential buyers are already counting out the estimated £1 million needed to purchase a lightweight, lovely bit of racing history. (via AutoNet, Birmingham Post, and Champion Motorsports)