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  Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Low Drag Coupe

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1963
Numbers built:2 (Low Drag Coupes)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 20, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionSimply dubbed the 'Lightweight E-Type', Jaguar's new racing car was entrusted to privateer entrants, some of whom received factory support. Among them was of course John Coombs but also American Briggs Cunningham, who ordered three cars for an all-out assault on Le Mans. One of the first major outings for the Lightweight was the 1963 Sebring 12 Hours where two examples placed 7th and 8th overall. They finished 1st and 2nd in the four-litre GT class but were beaten by three Ferrari 250 GTOs that raced in the under three-litre class.

At Le Mans the three Lightweight E-Types looked absolutely splendid in the Cunningham colours of white with two blue-stripes. The high-speed track had traditionally favoured Jaguars, so hopes for a good result were high. The cars were competitive in the practice session but the race started disastrous; two of the three E-Types were out before the 40th lap was completeled. The surviving example finished 9th overall and 2nd in class behind a Cobra. Most worrying of all was that the smaller engined Ferrari 250 GTOs turned out to be considerably quicker.

While the Lightweight E-Type was proven to be 'too little, too late' in the major events, it did score the odd win in national events. In England Peter Sutcliffe was very competitive in his example and German Jaguar distributor Peter Lindner won several races in his coupe-bodied Lightweight. Sadly he suffered a fatal crash behind the wheel of his car at Montlhery in the fall of 1964. By that time, Jaguar had long lost interest in the project. Eventually only 12 examples were constructed, including the Coombs prototype.

Whether the E-Type could have been a success on the racing track had Jaguar built a competition version immediately, we will never know. The Lightweight built two years later showed promise but failed to perform on the big stage. Despite the average track-record, the Lightweight E-Types are well sought after today, demanding seven figure prices in Pounds, Dollars and Euros. The most amazing development is the performance the cars have shown on track. The Lightweight E-Types have been particularly successful in the Goodwood Revival TT race, winning against Ferraris and Cobras they could not touch in period.

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  Article Image gallery (54) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (1)