It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Eagle, builder of exemplary E-Types like the stunning Low Drag GT. Probably because all its cars are so beautifully engineered they take an absolute age to build. Its latest creation, which pays tribute to Jaguar’s legendary E-Type Lightweight racer, took a whopping 8,000 hours to piece together.
Back in the Sixties Jaguar planned to build 18 Lightweight E-Types to go racing. Fashioned from aluminium – not steel like a normal E-Type – and with an upgraded 3.8-litre straight-six with an aluminium block, they weighed comfortably under a tonne. 12 were finished in period – this one sold in 2017 for £6m – and a few years ago Jag’s Special Ops division finally got around to building the last six.
Now Eagle has had a go. Its Lightweight GT is supposed to “retain that special feel of a 60s competition car” but also be comfortable, refined and reliable enough to “make it an exhilarating daily driver or long-distance GT”.
First up the East Sussex-based company reduced a tidy Series 1 E-Type to its component parts. Then, presumably, threw many of them away. Like the body panels, which have all been replaced with modern-grade aluminium items that took specialist craftsmen 2,500 hours to finish.
To the untrained eye it looks much like one of the 12 (or 18) originals, but those of you with beards will spot the deeper sills (that make the chassis stiffer and mean the driver can sit lower), more steeply-raked front and rear screens and bigger wheel wells. The wheels themselves are modelled on the original Dunlops, but they’re bigger (16-inches), wider and wear more modern rubber.
They’re made from magnesium, as is the gearbox case, bell housing, differential case, sump and rear hub carriers. Elsewhere Eagle has used Inconel and titanium to further reduce the Lightweight’s mass. It weighs 1,017kg – 57kg more than the original. Not bad given it has a richly appointed interior with lashings of leather.
Remember, this thing is supposed to be comfortable – Eagle fiddled with the floorpan, pedal mountings and the rear bulkhead to increase legroom and redesigned the seats to make them safer, more comfortable and more supportive. It fitted air conditioning – a discreetly integrated system designed in house – and better insulation to keep the cabin cool. It’s even messed around with the seat adjusters (which are 3D printed) to make them easier to reach and operate. That’s attention to detail for you.
Powering the Lightweight GT is Eagle’s 4.7-litre version of Jag’s ‘XK’ straight-six, making 380bhp at 5,750rpm and 508Nm at 4,000 rpm. The gearbox is an all synchromesh five speeder with “perfect period feel” and ratios “designed to ensure a seamless flow of torque that is ideally matched to the weight of the car and the characteristics of the engine”. 0-95km/h takes less than five seconds, and the top speed is north of 275km/h.
We’re promised the suspension - independent wishbones with Ohlins adjustable dampers – isn’t too harsh. The brakes – servo assisted this time – are ventilated discs with four-piston AP Racing callipers.
Like it? You can commission your own, but be prepared to a) wait, because Eagle will at most build two a year and b) pay. Eagle hasn’t revealed how much the Lightweight GT costs – though no doubt it’s hard to say given the degree of personalisation – but remember, the Low Drag GT cost around £700,000 back in 2014.
STORY Tom Harrison