Many enthusiasts consider the 1960s to be the “golden era” of automotive design. The decade was marked by such masterpieces as the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, Ferrari 250 GTO, Lamborghini Muira and Ford GT40.
Although each of these vehicles is considered too be a pinnacle of design for its respective marque, one car stands above the rest and is considered by many to be among the most beautiful cars of all time – the Jaguar E-type. Among the variations of the E-type that were produced, the Low Drag Coupe competition special was the most curvy, elegant and alluring.
The Jaguar’s production E-type, also known as the XK-E, was a relatively affordable option for the buyer looking for a combination of performance, luxury and racing pedigree. The first-generation E-type spanned from 1961 to 1967 and was offered in two models, the OTS (convertible) and FHC (hatchback coupe).
In 1963, Jaguar crafted a one-off aerodynamic racing version with an alloy body called the Low Drag Coupe, serial number 49FXN, to compete in the 1964 season.
Eight years ago, designer Marco Diez set out to create a reimagined 1963 Jaguar E-type Low Drag Coupe in the style of the famous 49FXN. Diez’s goal was to replicate the construction and appearance of the original as it would have looked when first finished, but also to include all the elegance and luxurious features of a road car that were lacking from the pure-bred race car.
The build process was so detailed that many of the screws needed to be machined specifically for Diez’s Low Drag, while the interior was built far above and beyond the elegant standards of a Jaguar road car of the day.
While the original Low Drag Coupe was a stripped-down race car, Diez made this car as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. The interior had to be custom-made due to its unique shape and design when compared to other E-types.
The original car had a full roll cage and no finished panels, so the interior of the re-creation was left up to Diez. No parts from the original E-type were used in the interior which means every piece had to be custom made to exact dimensions.
The steering wheel started with an Aston Martin rim with traditional black E-Type spokes without milled-out holes. The horn pad was sourced from an XK140 and to house it inside of the wheel, the team had to machine a custom system for it. The gauges were designed by Diez personally, pulling inspiration from the Mercedes 300SL and the 250-series Ferraris for the look and functionality.
Diez’s tribute includes custom seats, bespoke gauges and a custom roll-bar along with integrated headrests, a machined steering wheel and a custom air conditioning system.
A key identifier that separates the Low Drag from a regular E-type is the intake duct on the hood that feeds a ram-air intake. The shortened nose aids in opening the clamshell hood; the original hood was so long that to open it in the pits at Le Mans, the team had to first put the car on stands.
Along the rear of the car, there are two separate ducts stacked on top of each other located on the C pillar of the body. The duct on the bottom directs air into the rear brakes for additional cooling and the duct on top is designed to evacuate air from the cabin at speed. By creating a low-pressure stream, air automatically flows through the lower duct to supply the cooling. The trunk has grills located just behind the rear wheels that evacuate additional air from the car
The car features much of the same running gear as the original Low Drag Coupe, including a 3.8-litre DOHC straight-six competition engine built by Crosthwaite and Gardiner. The car was unveiled this year at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week and has since been seen at subsequent events, such as the Montecito Motor Classic.
“Unveiling this car at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering was the culmination of nearly a decade’s work,” Diez said. “This Low Drag Coupe has been a passion project. I believe 49FXN is one of the most beautiful automobiles ever made, so to take inspiration from that and make it my own is a dream come true.”