Jaguar Land Rover Classic has dropped a bombshell at the hyper-exclusive Quail Motorsports Gathering, announcing the production of electric-powered Classic E-Type Jaguars, and the provision of electric power conversion services for existing Jaguar E-Types.
The iconic E-Type, famously eulogized by Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car in the world," will begin emerging from Jaguar Land Rover Classic as the most beautiful electric sports cars in the world in 2019.
Remarkably, in rebirthing the timeless classic as a modern sportscar, the driving experience should remain near identical. The entire electric battery pack and drivetrain swaps in and out in place of the original DOHC six-cylinder engine and gearbox, and has the same weight, size and location, ensuring the weight distribution is identical, while ensuring the car's structure, suspension and brakes remain unchanged, as does the front-rear weight distribution and hence the driving dynamics of the car.
As Jaguar Land Rover Classic has created an electric powertrain specifically designed for the E-type, this simplifies the retrofitting of existing cars and is also fully reversible so that E-Type owners can drive their classic car as a day-to-day commuter with zero emissions then having it refurbished to new, as it left the factory 50 something years ago, when they wish to pass it to the next custodian.
The conversion uses a single-speed reduction gear plus many of the components of the current model all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUV. The new SUV's 40kWh lithium-ion battery pack has a very similar dimensions and weight to the original E-type's race-bred DOHC six-cylinder engine and swap into the same location, with the electric motor sitting just behind the battery pack, in place of the E-type's gearbox. A new propshaft sends power to the original differential and final drive.
My relationship with Jaguar has had its ups and downs. I owned a concours-winning E-Type for many years, loved it dearly, and sold it some 30 years ago, proud to have owned a car derived from the legendary D-Type which swept all before it in sports car racing, winning the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1955, 1956 and 1957.
In February this year, I penned an article entitled Jaguar begins producing "new" D-type racers, but is it ruining the auction market for its biggest fans?, being highly critical of the re-creation of perfect D-Types by Jaguar Land Rover Classic, and how it appeared to be sacrificing the resale value of the cars owned by its greatest fans for the sake of short term profit.
With this announcement however, I have changed my mind about the company's direction, as it offers Jaguar fans the opportunity to own, drive and rejoice in their classic E-Types, while offering a modernization path that is entirely reversible as E-Type prices at auction continue to climb. This strategy offers the best of both worlds for those who have always lusted after "the most beautiful car in the world."
Friday's announcement of all-electric E-Type Jaguars at the Quail Motorsports Gathering might just become very big business.
Make no mistake, this is a masterstroke of marketing genius for a marque of such wonderful heritage, and with the craftsmanship and quality control afforded by Jaguar Land Rover Classic, opens a new pathway to classic motoring for the well-heeled baby boomer masses who worshipped the E-Type in their youth.
All the major prestige automotive marques now offer restoration services for their classic models of yesteryear, returning cars to period perfection. Jaguar Land Rover Classic has been restoring classic Jaguars and Land Rover for many years in addition to producing atom-perfect reproductions of such priceless classics as the D-Type.
At the same time as announcing the production of electric E-Types and the conversion of existing E-Types into fully-compliant modern zero-emission cars, the company announced it was opening a classic car refurbishing and restoration center in North America.
In addition to enabling elite restoration services for Jaguar and Land Rover classics to the American public, the Savannah (Georgia) facility will also sell and service JLR's classic vehicles and offer the restoration and conversion of existing Jaguar E-Type cars into electric classics. Deliveries of the first electric E-type vehicles are expected to start from summer 2020.
The new American facility will open in the summer of 2019, and there's almost certain to be such a latent demand for converting E-Types into beautiful modern electric cars that we may be seeing the beginning of a trend. For those who choose to provide an existing E-Type base vehicle, the EV conversion will be fully reversible, ensuring that complete authenticity of the vehicle will be maintained.
The company originally revealed the electrified E-type concept it dubbed the "Zero" at its Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest in London, less than 12 months ago, with the public response so overwhelming positive that production of the Zero is now going ahead, and Jaguar Classic confirmed on Friday that it will offer all-electric E-types for sale.
"We've been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the Jaguar E-type Zero concept", said JLR Classic Director Tim Hannig. "Future-proofing the enjoyment of classic car ownership is a major stepping stone for Jaguar Classic.
"E-type Zero showcases the incredible heritage of the E-type, and the expertise and craftsmanship at Classic Works, while demonstrating Jaguar Land Rover's dedication to creating zero emission vehicles across every part of the business, including Jaguar Classic."
The Zero E-Type is indistinguishable from the original at a glance, though the intake and exhaust roar of the 3.8/4.2 DOHC six-cylinder engine will be missing, and the main giveaways will be the modified instrumentation and dashboard fascia and the LED headlights.
Unlike most classics which are restricted to push-button radios of the period, the Zero will be available with the latest touchscreen infotainment system as an option.
For sports driving enthusiasts, while the driving dynamics and experience of the Jaguar E-type Zero will be almost identical to the original, the performance will be noticeably better thanks to a more powerful electric engine with stronger torque characteristics and hence with quicker acceleration than the original Series 1 E-type.
The tailor-made electric E-types will be restored and converted at the same Coventry (UK) Classic Works facility responsible for its existing E-type restorations and XKSS and D-Type manifestation.
The final specifications and pricing details will follow, but Jaguar Classic is now seeking expressions of interest. Potential E-type Zero clients are invited to contact Jaguar Classic via email@example.com , by phone on +44 (0) 203 601 1255 or at www.jaguar.com/classic.
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