A large number of company bosses love their motorcars, highlights Iain Robertson, with some of them investing in the classic car scene, while others prefer to use their classics on a daily basis, despite carrying a high net worth.
Kent-based, E-Type UK is renowned for its concours-grade, original specification restorations of early Jaguar sports models. With around 10 commissions being worked currently at its Hadlow premises (near Tunbridge Wells), the business owned by Marcus Holland could be described as being in very fine fettle. However, the most recent customer commission dealt with by the specialist firm is for the 2+2 coupe version of the Jaguar E-Type that has never been held by classic car fans in as high regard as the regular two-seat coupe and roadster alternatives. However, values are escalating, the more desirable alternatives now being in exceedingly short supply and being sold at high six-figure sums.
The businessman owner of this particular E-Type sought an example that would be reliable but would also contain some subtle modern twists. He wanted it to feature much-improved driving characteristics, yet to retain the classic E-Type personality. When you indulge in what would only be a fantasy to the average working person, it needs to be right, especially if your intention is to drive it alongside modern alternatives. The original E-Type 2+2 was flawed in many ways. The longer wheelbase accentuated the narrow track on a car that was designed during the 1950s. Greater ride height, to meet US Federal bumper height legislation, did very little to enhance the car’s handling envelope.
Rolling off the production line in 1973, just over 45 years ago, this original right-hand drive Series 3 2+2 Coupe had lived a pampered life but it was starting to look very tired. Only a total restoration could hope to return it into a usable classic. It was taken to E-Type UK with a brief to not only restore it sensitively but also to upgrade it to the highest possible standards.
E-Type UK’s team stripped down the original car to bare metal, which exposed some shoddy previous repairs, such as inner wheel-arches patched up with layers of tin, an unfortunate reminder of a time, when these models were unloved and sorely undervalued, with most of the attention being directed at flat-floored and alloy-bodied originals. Returning the car to its original specification, a bespoke aluminium bonnet was fabricated to reduce front-end weight, before repainting the whole car in Opalescent Gunmetal. The resultant finish is sheer perfection. The paint detailing, which also demanded several layers and many hours of painstaking polishing, possesses a depth that the factory originals never could.
The classic, 5.3-litre, 295bhp V12 engine was fully rebuilt and upgraded, with new electronic fuel injection, larger throttle bodies, aluminium radiator and header tank and the all-important 12-branch tubular stainless steel sports exhaust system that allows the multi-cylinder unit to sing gloriously across its rev-range. It is doubtful that the engine, which was one of the smoothest and most refined of all in its heyday, was producing anything close to its original power output. However, as a normally-aspirated lump, in rebuilt form, it now produces in excess of an unstressed 350bhp and it remains reliable.
Below the now-perfect body, the suspension was revised heavily for improved ride and handling characteristics, with all-round adjustable springs and dampers, including sports torsion bars, anti-roll bar and uprated bushes. The combination transforms the E-Type, while also allowing the customer to select a preferred suspension setting. AP Racing brakes replace the standard units, with larger diameter discs and aluminium callipers that increase the number of pistons acting on them from three to four, which improves the stopping power, while reducing weight. A spectacular set of 16.0-inch diameter Turino wire wheels were chosen not merely for their aesthetic value but also because they allow the fitting of modern tyres for improved traction, as well as reducing corner weights, thanks to aluminium rims and stronger stainless-steel spokes compared with the original wheels.
An uprated 5-speed manual gearbox completes the revised drivetrain package, with gearing that makes both long motorway drives and challenging country lane jaunts a total pleasure. Additions within the fully-retrimmed and traditional Oxblood Red leather cabin include: a 15.0-inch diameter wooden steering wheel that makes the most of the car’s spirited handling envelope, bespoke classically-styled inertia reel seat belts, for improved comfort and safety, and an LED dash-light conversion to improve instrument visibility for nocturnal driving forays. A period-style stereo system, which hides full modern internal components, includes Bluetooth capability and finishes the interior in fine classic manner.
With ultra-careful attention to detail that ensures the flip-forward bonnet lines-up perfectly with the door shut-lines and that panel gaps are minimised as much as blatantly possible on a car that did suffer from variable manufacturing quality, the E-Type UK renovation is an example of British craftsmanship at its best. Of course, it helps if you have a bank balance commensurate with being able to afford a modern-day supercar, because maintaining a classic can be very demanding of its owner.
Each rebuilt E-Type can cost up to around £140,000 over the cost of the original, although some bespoke rebuilds can cost even more, and take up to 18-months to complete to E-Type UK’s exacting standards. As a delightful diversion, bearing in mind that a high-spec Range Rover can cost over £120,000 and a new Bentley Mulsanne could be in excess of £255,000, a rebuilt classic E-Type might fulfil self-drive aspirations and still satisfy the company accountant.