Jaguar originally planned to build 18 lightweight aluminum competition versions of its remarkable new E-type when it set out to beat Ferrari at Le Mans in 1963. But only 12 were ever constructed, which the automaker intends to rectify starting this year.
The original “Special GT E-type Cars” were presented to the racing world as production-based vehicles, although they actually were highly developed competition machines that trimmed 250 pounds from the steel road cars, thanks to their aluminum bodies and engine blocks. The racers also featured reduced drag and fuel-injected, dry-sump versions of Jaguar’s 3.8-liter straight-six engine.
The Lightweight E-types were exceptional and did well on shorter courses, but Ferrari’s powerful 12-cylinder 250 GTOs beat all comers on tracks with long straightaways.
Jaguar ended up building just 12 Lightweights during 1963-64, and they have achieved Holy Grail status among Jaguar collectors.
Now, the automaker has set out to build the “missing 6” as perfect reproductions of the originals, which Jaguar calls its first-ever re-creation project. The cars will be assigned the remaining six chassis numbers originally allocated in 1963.
The aluminum-bodied cars will be hand-built in-house by Jaguar craftsmen, with each car constructed to the precise specifications of the original 1960s racers, including the 3.8-liter racing engine.
Jaguar said it expects well-off potential buyers to line up for one of the last six Lightweights. The company said it will give priority to established Jaguar collectors, especially those engaged in vintage racing.
Watch for the first new/old Lightweight to make its appearance later this summer.