Page 1 of 2 Next >> Conceived as as a road car, the Jaguar E-Type was nevertheless a regular sight at racing tracks shortly after its launch at the 1961 Geneva Motorshow. With its chassis and engine design derived from the three-time Le Mans winning D-Type this was hardly a surprise. To keep the costs of production down, Jaguar fitted the E-Type with a steel body. This proved to be a big handicap when the E-Types faced thoroughbred rivals like the Ferrari 250 GT(O), Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and Shelby Cobra, which all used featherlight aluminium bodies.
One of the most successful of these early racing E-Types was the John Coombs prepared example that was raced by Roy Salvadori and Graham Hill in 1961 and 1962. The only upgrades fitted on this car were a wide-angle head and triple Webers. The performance of Salvadori and Hill in the steel E-Type sparked an interest inside Jaguar's dormant competition department at the end of 1962. It was decided to construct a proper competition version of the E-Type and John Coombs was invited to the factory to have his successful machine serve as the prototype.
To retain the E-Type's homologation as a GT car, the body could be modified but not the chassis, so the steel monocoque was retained. A brand new body was constructed that looked virtually identical to the production road car but was fabricated completely from aluminium. To improve the aerodynamics a separate 'hard-top' roof was added, which sported a small vent at the rear. Some of the later cars were bodied with full fast-back Coupe bodies that proved to be even more efficient.
Under the lightweight shell the new competition E-Type also featured changes. The biggest was an aluminium cylinder block instead of the cast-iron lump fitted in the road cars. Together with the revised body, this helped cut the weight by over 200 kg. The revised 3.8 litre engine was also fitted with Lucas fuel injection, which helped lift the power to well over 300 bhp. All of this was transferred to the rear wheels through a five-speed, close-ratio gearbox. Page 1 of 2 Next >>