Competition Car Profile: Jaguar E-type (1961-1966)

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Here's what goes into an FIA-type racer - and what it will cost you.

Even the ‘original’ JAGUAR E-type racers can look very different to how they did in their first events, and the E-type is a complicated subject when it comes to homologation, so this guide can only be an overview. But if you fancy racing an icon for £50k, your insight starts here.

E-type bodies are never cheap to work with. Rot is the biggest enemy, as the basic tub must be sound so it can properly support the roll cage (which can cost £1500-2000 installed). Because the minimum homologated weight is 1000kg, most racers replace at least some of the outer panels with aluminium to save weight, and front-runners build a car up from a new aluminium monocoque – the kit to do so costs over £50,000; the hardtop alone almost £5000 of that.

Only roadsters and Low Drag coupés in FIA Appendix K Period F (up to ’66) were homologated for aluminium tubs; coupés have to be steel, which means they won’t be front-runners but they will be cheaper. Simon Dunford of Classic Jaguar Racing says: ‘Our ally cars – and we’ve made 36 now – have a steel inner structure. If you look at an original Lightweight or D-type, they’re held together with steel gussets and pop-rivets – they were never meant to last very long.’

Steel rear wing extensions for fat tires cost £2500 each, and aluminum bonnets are £5000: ‘That’s one of the biggest single changes you can make to the car,’ says Dunford. ‘It lightens the front so much you have to reset all the suspension.’

The XK straight-six has never been a revver, but can produce over 300bhp at 6000rpm. It must be a 3.8, of course (the 4.2 didn’t arrive until 1966, outside both periods E and F), and won’t be cheap: a complete, reliable race engine starts at around £15,000, with Cosworth pistons, wide-blade rods and ‘everything balanced’, going up to £40,000 for a new all-aluminium wide-angle-head engine made by Crosthwaite & Gardiner.
Period E cars (up to ’61) have to use SUs; later cars were homologated for Webers. Simon Dunford says: ‘We sell the only FIA-acceptable manifolds to mount triple Webers, which are three-piece, though lots of folk use the single-piece type which I think was copied from Mangoletsi.’ Dunford’s manifold costs over £2000, and a complete side-exit exhaust with manifolds is £1880; manifolds-only at around £750.

The ZF is the only homologated five-speeder and it’s approaching £10k; Jag’s all-synchro four-speed from the 4.2 is also homologated. You’ll need a diff cooler for any races longer than one hour.

The E-type has sophisticated all-independent suspension. Front springing is by torsion bars, so coilovers aren’t allowed, wishbones and pick-up points must remain standard and solid bushings or spherical joints are off the menu too. Spring rates are free, and camber and castor are adjustable by shims – but not by much, as these are only there to take out manufacturing tolerances. ‘You can take them all out,’ says Dunford, ‘but you only get the wheels upright, or ½˚ negative on one side and positive on the other.’ The answer is an adjustable fulcrum shaft (that the top wishbone pivots on), which gives up to 2˚ of negative camber, £270 a pair. Fast road front anti-roll bars cost £380.

At the rear, you can increase the track on Period F cars by up to 15/8in. ‘People use S-type lower wishbones, which gives an extra 1¾in. But no-one checks!’ says Dunford. To use these, you need ½in spacers between the driveshafts and the diff, or the back end will splay like a lowered VW Beetle. Going down this route, or fitting big wheels, means you’ll need flared arches, but the FIA is getting picky about bodywork mods, warns Melvin Floyd of CKL Developments.

Dunlop wheels cost £750 a corner, either 7in or 7.5in, the maximum allowed on Period F cars, though you’ll need hubs (£400 each) and spinners (£170 each). Coupés and period E cars are not allowed the same leeway, with a maximum rim width of 6½in (6in for some races), and original FIA-type Dunlop Racing wheels are £1800 each. ‘I had 40 made and I’ve sold four,’ says Dunford, ruefully. Tires will be Dunlop Racers or Avon ZZs.

MkIX front discs are the largest that can be used under FIA rules, available new with alloy wheel cylinders at £700 each. The E-type has a brake servo, so you can use either a direct or remotely mounted one. There’s no rule on pad material, as it’s a personal choice dictated by the type of event.

The bottom line
If you want a brand-new car, companies such as Classic Jaguar Racing or CKL will make you an ally racer, complete with FIA papers, starting from £150,000, though you can spend much more, principally by opting for the ally engine. At the other extreme, Melvin Floyd of CKL Developments points out: ‘You could put a basic, steel-bodied Period E coupé on the track for £50,000-60,000.’


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