Right from the outset, the E-Type was raced competitively with Graham Hill celebrating the model's racing debut by winning at Oulton Park on 3rd April 1961.
The elevation of the GT class to Manufacturers' Championship status for 1963 prompted Jaguar to develop a small batch of very special lightweight cars to challenge Ferrari. The FIA's regulations for the Gran Turismo category stipulated that a minimum of 100 cars had to be built, but permitted coachwork modifications, thus enabling Jaguar to claim that its lightweights were standard E-types fitted with altered bodywork. (This is the same loophole exploited by Ferrari to get the limited edition 250 GTO homologated, by claiming that they were re-bodied 250 GTs). In fact, all 12 lightweight E-Types constructed in period were built from scratch with aluminium bodies, though they were invoiced as a new standard road car with additional modifications and numbered in the normal production sequence, albeit with an 'S' chassis number prefix.
This was not the first occasion that a low-drag body had been tried on the E-Type; Jaguar's Experimental Department had built one in 1962 but the project was shelved. To create the 1963 lightweight version, the E-Type's steel monocoque tub and outer body panels were remanufactured in aluminium and the engine dry-sumped and fitted with an alloy cylinder block, 'wide-angle' head and Lucas mechanical fuel injection, producing in excess of 300bhp. The production four-speed gearbox was used initially before a ZF five-speed unit was adopted towards the end of 1963. '4 WPD', the works development E-Type racer campaigned by John Coombs and driven by Graham Hill, was converted to lightweight specification and served as the prototype.
The 12 cars built by the factory were intended for the use of competition orientated Jaguar dealers or specially selected private entrants. Two of them, campaigned by Peter Lindner (Jaguar's Frankfurt distributor) and Peter Lumsden, were fitted with a revised, low-drag tail section devised by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer, the man responsible for the standard production E-Type. This move to a more aerodynamic design had been prompted by the fact that although the GTOs had proved beatable on British short circuits, on faster tracks and in events of longer duration they decisively held the upper hand.
The best result obtained at international level by a low-drag E-Type was achieved by Dick Protheroe's ex-works experimental E-Type racer (the solitary prototype of 1962), which triumphed at Reims in the face of stiff GTO opposition, albeit in a race of only 25 laps. Sadly, the lightweight and low-drag E-Types failed to fulfil their potential in the endurance classics, though the car did prove able to take on and beat the Ferrari GTOs at shorter distances. Today, copies of this rare competition variant are among the most popular and sought after of all E-Type replicas.
This outstanding example was built over a four year period by renowned marque specialists Lynx who for many years were the go to specialists for C, D and Lightweight E. Chris Keith-Lucas headed up the technical side before setting up his own company CKL Developments who have looked after the car in recent years for both the previous and present owner.
Built to very high specification, complete with a Crosthwaite & Gardiner engine incorporating an alloy cylinder block and Lucas slide-throttle fuel injection producing some 350 bhp which drives via a Lynx T5 five-speed gearbox. It has also been fitted with a very neat and highly effective air conditioning unit. Used only sparingly on the road and occasional hill climb since its build this is still a low mileage proposition that has still benefited from considered and thoughtful maintenance.
The most aesthetically pleasing of all the various Lightweight sculpted bodies, this is an incredibly appealing road car. Alternatively, without much difficulty it could be steered towards primarily being a race entrant…