Eagle Lightweight GT: the reincarnation of the E-type Jag
Jaguar’s classic E-type sports car has been reinvented for the modern age. The result – the Eagle Lightweight GT – is a thing of beauty.
Price: about £800,000; Engine: 4.7-litre, six-cylinder; Top speed: 170mph plus; 0-60mph: under five seconds; Power: 380bhp; Torque: 375 lb ft
Eagle, a small engineering company in East Sussex, is best known for taking classic Jaguar E-types and giving them a mild makeover, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sunday Times. Occasionally, however, it “makes a car that stops the world”. Its Speedster was “the most beautiful thing made in all human history”. With this Eagle, “it’s done it again”. The Eagle Lightweight GT costs close to a million pounds, including the donor original on which it’s based, and that may seem a lot for a car that’s nearly 60 years old. “But the truth is, it sort of isn’t. It’s actually about 60 minutes old.”
This E-type is nothing like Jaguar’s original racers and nothing like the “continuation” cars the firm has made recently. It’s “civilised, even by modern standards”, and is no stripped-down racer but a “grand tourer, a leather-lined, air-conditioned long-distance cruiser”. The engine sounds glorious, with “just the right amount of Tom Jones noises – when… you get all those little crackles and pops – ooh, it does things to your hair”. And the interior “is a labour of love”. Once you’ve managed to clamber in you won’t want to get out again. “I just wanted to sit in there, for ever, touching stuff.”
Eagle has made only around 60 cars over the last 30 years, but not for lack of demand, says Top Gear. Maximum production capacity is four cars a year, and each one takes around 8,000 man hours to create. This GT follows the E-type recipe, but “everything, everywhere you look, is bespoke. Think of it as commissioning a work of art, or investing in a family heirloom, more than buying a car”. Yet it is “so addictive in its manners and behaviour [that] all you’re going to want to do is drive it”.
Think of it as a classic car redeveloped with the benefit of hindsight, says Autocar – “this is the E-Type they’d have made at the time if only they’d known how”. The ride quality is remarkable and despite all the roaring and snarling from the engine, it’s quiet enough in the interior for conversation at 120mph. “Not that you’d want to talk, or even have company… it is a car in which to be entirely alone with your thoughts, that engine, the gearshift and its supple, indulgent and sensitive chassis.” For all its modern modifications, it’s not less of an E-type, but more.