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Jaguar E-Type back to the future

Jaguar E-Type back to the future

Chris Russon, 2017-09-11

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THIS is the E-Type Jaguar that could save classic cars from the scrapheap if petrol and diesel engines are banned.

The legendary sports car, famously described by Enzo Ferrari as the most beautiful car in the world, has been turned into a zero-emission roadster powered by an electric motor.

And with a 0 to 60 acceleration time of just 5.5 seconds it is even faster than the original.

The E-Type Zero has been created by the Jaguar Land Rover Classic division at its works in Coventry - only a few miles from the Browns Lane factory where the E-Type was born - and was revealed at the JLR Tech Fest in London where the company set out its plans for a new age of motoring.

With the government indicating it wants to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 electric vehicles will become key to everyday travel and combat air pollution.

The battery powered E-Type was shown as JLR announced it would be including an electrified option on all of its models from 2020.

The company also showed off its first all-electric vehicle - the I-PACE SUV, which will be going on sale next year.

Looking even further ahead, the Tech Fest marked the debut of what Jaguar calls the Future-Type - an advanced EV which drives itself and can even be summoned to your front door.

As the transition starts, electrified models will come on stream in the shape of pure EV and hybrid vehicles alongside conventionally powered cars.

But converting the iconic E-Type to run on electricity shows that historic vehicles can be future-proofed to continue the glory years of motoring for generations to come.

We got the chance to examine the E-Type Zero at the Tech Fest where it was on static display.

It began life back in 1968 and as a so-called E-Type Series 1.5 - a halfway house model Jaguar made for a year as it upgraded the original E-Type prior to the introduction of the Series 2 in 1969.

Under the bonnet of the E-Type Zero is a 220kW electric motor replacing the XK engine which was the foundation of many a Jaguar from 1949 to 1992, used not only in the E-Type but also the XK120, the Jaguar Mk2 and the XJ6.

In the E-Type of 1968 it was a 4.2-litre straight six engine developing some 245bhp, resulting in performance of around seven seconds 0 to 60 and a top speed close on 150mph.

The power of the E-Type Zero is the equivalent of 295bhp and the conversion has seen 46kg shaved off the weight, improving performance considerably.

It has a range of 170 miles on a single charge and given the thirst of the original that's little different. Driven enthusiastically you would have been lucky to get 200 miles from the 14 gallons of fuel the E-Type carried.

With batteries slung centrally, the weight distribution of the E-Type Zero is unchanged and the charging point is below a flap on the rear wing as was the filler cap of the original. A full recharge from a domestic supply takes between six to seven hours.

An update is the use of LED headlamps to reduce energy consumption but at a glance the Zero is a true E-Type in every way.

Inside the cockpit it's a different story. The instrumentation has come from the high-tech I-PACE and comprises two display screens - one in front of the driver and the other in the centre of the dash.

The array of switches that was such a characteristic of the original has been stripped down to just four controls and the gear lever replaced by a rotary selector - there are no gears on the electric version just settings for forwards, park and reverse.

The wooden-rimmed, triple-spoke 16-inch diameter steering wheel and lengthy chrome handbrake are retained although the facia is modernised to include lightweight carbon fibre in teh trim - a pleasant blend of old and new.

Fired up, the E-Type Zero runs silently but under acceleration - as Jaguar demonstrated in a video of the car running at speed - it has a whoosh akin to a jet.

"Our aim with the E-Type Zero is to future-proof classic car ownership," said Tim Hanning, the director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic.

"We have integrated the new electric powertrain into the existing E-Type structure, which means a conventional engine could be reinstalled at any point. We think this is essential as it ensures a period Jaguar remains authentic to its DNA."

Explaining that the drive, handling, ride and braking were the same as an original E-Type he said that the electric technology used on the E-Type Zero could be fitted to any classic XK-engine Jaguar.

"We're looking forward to the reaction of our clients as we investigate bringing this concept to market," added Mr Hanning.

And with the E-Type now one of the most desirable classics in the world - rare examples have sold for around £500,000 at auction and a 1963 Lightweight fetched an astonishing $7.3 million when it went under the hammer in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this year - the electric E-Type could be the classic of the future in more ways than one.

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