I went to see the most amazing E-Type restoration ever attempted
You may recall that I published an article on what is quite possibly the most highly specified V12 Jaguar E-Type restoration to date:
Well, the owner contacted me saying he was waiting for the car to be handed over from the restorers, E-Type UK and that I could come and see it in the metal if I wished to. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity and made the short drive to Suffolk to meet him and to see this very special car.
What is it?
This beautiful 1973 V12 E-Type probably has the most upgrades of any restoration to date. The list of modifications is long but every detail that was added was done to bring the car into the modern age. It has a new efficient fuel system, it's supremely comfortable and most importantly, it's safer.
The owner wanted to build something that drove like a modern car, without ruining the styling of what's arguably one of the best looking automobiles ever made.
From first purchasing the car in Canada, to having it locked safely in his garage, the process has taken him some five and a half years to perfect and to complete his E-Type. He personally travelled many miles to research and source various parts and it's safe to say that it was well worth the wait.
Besides the AP Racing brakes, the updated lights and the more purposeful stance provided by the modern wider tyres, not much else has been done to spoil the classic E-Type design. The car looks box-fresh. It's almost as if today's Jaguar Land Rover decided to make a new one-off E-Type, the car not having a single blemish or flaw anywhere on the Topaz treated and protected bodywork. In fact, being near 9 XKE is strangely intimidating, her beauty leaves you in awe, she is simply stunning. You can't help but to stop and stare as you take in every detail.
The interior of 9 XKE has been completely re-worked. Out went the cheap vinyl to be replaced with the highest quality hand-stitched leather. All the dials have been given chrome surrounds and up to date LED lighting. Also installed is a modern yet retro-looking media system, as well as an engine start/stop button, heated seats, remote central locking and a totally redesigned and unobtrusive air conditioning unit, unlike the factory add-on. This interior revamp has given the cabin a truly premium look and feel. Despite these changes, it still feels like a classic car's interior, which is exactly what the owner wanted.
A sweeping shot of the interior
Increased from 5.3L to a whopping 6.1L V12, the engine is up on power and efficiency. This was done not only by the increase in size but by creating a bespoke down-draft fuel injection system for the car with Jenvy throttle bodies, Emerald ECU and full custom wiring loom. These modifications result in the car now producing over 350 horsepower, which sounds incredibly meaty through the Scott and Hayward stainless steel exhaust system. The engine bay is pristine, so clean that you could eat a Sunday roast from it.
Exhaust note and engine bay inspection
This initially started with the engine being removed to get at a few rust spots in the engine bay. It was then decided to fit a new five-speed manual gearbox and to rebuild the fuel injection system. E-Type UK's 'nut and bolt treatment' was then carried out, this involved every single nut, bolt and washer either being restored, replaced or upgraded as required.
The car was taken apart and the body was completely stripped down, restored and repainted. The chassis was strengthened under the door sills to eliminate acknowledged chassis flex in the Series 3.
Lightweight E-Type bonnet louvres were fitted to help the flow of cool air into the engine intakes. The body was then heat and sound-proofed with Dynamat before it was all put back together again.
The seats began life in an XJS but were extensively modified. The upholstery was removed, the frame widened, and the seat backs were raised in height. They were then fitted with upholstery from an Alfa Romeo 156 and heating elements were built in for comfort on those chilly winter days. Box sections under the seats were skilfully removed to enable them to be fitted lower, making the driving position more sporty as the original seats sat up considerably higher.
Problems then came about with the seats once they were put in position as all the work had been done without the soft-top installed. It was discovered that the hinged part of the soft-top, when in its folded down position, hit the back of the new seats. Recesses were made in the back of both seats to accommodate this. As you can imagine, these alterations involved extensive research, remodelling and high costs.
A pair of custom-made seatbelt guides were also created with the prototypes being built in Switzerland, so that the owner could take a hands on approach to the process. After a couple of designs, the final product was then made in brass, nickel plated and installed by Suffolk Sports Cars in the UK. In order for them to fit properly, the headrests were removed and completely re-modelled so that the guides actually formed part of the headrests.
Originally wanting a set of Borrani wheels, the owner visited the Borrani factory near Milan, Italy. Unfortunately for him, Borrani couldn’t accommodate this and having a set made for the E-Type just wasn't an option.
Will from Turrino Wheels in the UK was then contacted. Conscious that flared wheel arches were not wanted, Will sent a special adjustable wheel to E-Type UK who installed it and fed the required information back to Turrino for analysis.
A stunning one-off set of alloy wheels with 62 spokes were then uniquely designed and made for the car, much to the owners delight. These wheels are truly a work of art and a credit to Will and his team at Turrino.
As the suspension and brakes had been upgraded, modern tyres were then needed to ensure safety and better performance. A set of Michelin Primacy 3, 225/60 R16 tyres were chosen. The owner then sent them off to a specialist firm in Germany who delicately applied the narrow whitewall which complements the tyre perfectly.
The owner then purchased a hard top and had it restored. This was stripped down, re-painted, sound proofed and then lined in a soft grey alcantara.
The list of upgrades and modifications is extensive:
Sports power steering, upgraded alternator and starter motor, plus improved engine cooling was installed with the fans set to run on for one minute after engine shut down to disperse under bonnet heat when necessary, all controlled by the ECU.
LED headlights with integrated day time running lights have been installed, in fact a complete LED upgrade throughout the car has been carried out, including boot and under bonnet lighting, foot-well lighting and door puddle lighting all supplied by Gil at Better Car Lighting.
An ingenious new design of reversing lights has been installed, thus enabling the removal of the ugly standard system.
Stainless steel bumpers have been fitted front and rear, colour matching the alloy wheels to perfection. A media surround sound system with Bluetooth and hands-free iPhone connectivity has been fitted, along with electrically-adjustable mirrors from a Jaguar XJS, with the gaskets underneath each mirror having to be purpose build by a 3D printer to get the mirrors to sit perfectly straight.
How much is it worth?
The owner was reluctant to talk money, fully acknowledging that this probably was not his finest investment as research and development costs on a one off such as this tend to make a project quite expensive.
It’s estimated that a second version would be an awful lot easier and quicker to produce with a time line of about 18 months.
Asking E Type UK to start over again half way through the build up didn’t help matters. This came about as the owner felt that the un-restored bodywork didn’t do credit to the new mechanical components, so it was back to the drawing board to start again, none of which was cheap.
He has also been amazed at how much attention the restoration has created, especially as it has been done to a V12 and not the perhaps more sought after Series 1.
So, to answer the question that everybody is asking, we don’t know the costs but taking everything into consideration, this cannot have cost less than £300,000, a figure we put to the owner to which he didn't argue with.
So there you have it. It's a classic E-Type brought into the modern age thanks to hard work and determination. The owner built the car with the intention of keeping it for personal use, rather than to sell it.
Think of it like a re-mastered vinyl track that's been put onto CD. We'd like to thank the owner for giving us the opportunity to see this jaw dropping car.