It was in May 2014 that the English automaker Jaguar announced that it would recreate six new Lightweight E-types, a project under Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Operations division. Crafted to the exact specification of the last of its kind produced in 1964 — of which only 12 of the planned 18 were built then — each of the six will also carry the historic E-type chassis numbers.
Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classics, explains of its history: “[The company then] put the [chassis] numbers down and said they’re going to build [the Lightweight E-Type]. And after 12, they just didn’t continue. So we had the opportunity to fulfil and complete what the company didn’t do in 1963. So this really is what we call a continuation.”
With only six of these special cars “rebuilt”, Jaguar Land Rover went on to handpick its owners whom they believe will take full advantage of the car’s racing pedigree, instead of simply displaying it like in a museum. “I think we do have a number of different things to consider,” Hannig reveals. “Most important thing is, we want these cars not to be locked away, but we would like them to be out and to be seen. That was very important for us.”
And in Singapore — or rather, Asia — the lucky petrolhead is SK Quek. A racer in his younger days, Quek was the proud owner of a white 1961 E-Type roadster. So with this legendary wheels, he plans to enter in international classic car events and races. “The owner already has a very clear plan that one day, his grandson will be driving it. That is an important element for us — a personal link and relationship with the car,” Hannig, who is also restoring his own Series 2 E-Type, adds.
But what exactly makes the Lightweight so special? Hannig shares more.
What inspired the creation of the Lightweight E-Type?
I think what happened was in the past, the company had done two different layers of products. On the sports cars, they had the C- and D-Type — those were extremely modern with aluminium structures. The road cars had steel frames, but the chief designer said we could use the race technology for the road car. So the road E-Type is the first car with this modern structure. When they launched the car at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, the reaction was absolutely insane. Because it was so positive, they later decided to build a version of it really for racing and that’s what the car is. It’s a high-performance engine in a low-weight car.
Is there anything else with the Lightweight E-Type that’s different other than the shape?
There’s more than that. The shape is very close but the Lightweight E-Type has a bit of a wide rear wheel arch because of wider tyres for racing. And with the Lightweight, everything is from aluminium — not only the structure, but the engine too. It’s a completely different different way of putting the structures together, while still having it in the same shape [as the road E-Type].
So with the six “new” Lightweights, the chosen owners were flown out to Coventry to personalise their own car. What options do they have?
There is a number of options. They have all picked their own individual colour, material and (interior) colour. And there are other options. For example, you could order a car with carburettors, all with electronic ignitions that were favoured at that tie as well. And there are some race upgrades availables. I think it’s really nice because the owners have all been very much involved. It’s a very personal kind of relationship.
What about the other 12? Does Jaguar have any idea where they are?
Yes, we know very much where they are. All except one are still in existence. It’s not quite clear where that last one.
Read our post-event coverage of SK Quek's birthday, where the Jaguar Lightweight E-Type was unveiled to family and friends.