The Eagle Speedster has gained a new and desperately exciting sibling that should have you drooling in delight right through to Monday. The Lightweight GT represents “the best an E-Type can be,” according to its makers, with low weight, high luxury and an engine to make you daydream.
Each Lightweight GT takes around 8000 man-hours to complete. For one person alone at eight hours a day that’s almost four years of Monday to Friday labour. Teamwork brings that down, but Eagle is still only planning on building two drop-dead gorgeous examples every year.
The process starts with a nut-and-bolt disassembly of a real Series I E-Type. We’re all got one of those going spare, right? The original ultra-thin and fragile panels of Jaguar’s own E-Type Lightweight are replaced by Eagle’s stronger equivalents, created in an exhaustive 2500-hour process that leaves the car’s curvaceous metal clothes ready for anything 2020’s road can throw at them.
There’s a purposefulness in the Lightweight GT’s lines that beautifully echoes the original while updating its looks for today’s tastes. It’s a rose-tinted memory, delivering on the looks and experience your grey matter imagines from the 1960s while upgrading everything to meet today’s vastly higher expectations. The peg-drive magnesium alloy wheels are a prime example; an inch larger to permit better tyres, but also wider and more muscular to flatter your memories of the original.
Deeper sills for a stiffer, lower chassis and a lower driving position join a more aerodynamic front and rear screen pairing, larger wheel arches and a heavily upgraded engine. The 4.7-litre evolution of the famous straight-six that won five straight Le Mans races in the 1950s now speaks of an aluminium block just like the original Lightweights. It also gets a bespoke crankshaft, upgraded con-rods and pistons for faster throttle response and greater durability, and a wide-angle cylinder head as per factory-spec Lightweights for the car’s larger valves and higher-lift camshaft. You can hardly miss the three twin-choke Weber carburettors, either.
Peak power for the 1017kg car is 380bhp at 5750rpm, but Eagle wants you to focus on the impressive 375lb ft of torque at 4000rpm. It crests a torque wave so fat, the company says, that you’ll be shifting along like Steve McQueen even before the final exhilarating rush to the redline. The gearbox has ‘just’ five ratios, and should be well suited to the torque-rich six. 0-60mph takes less than six seconds and top speed reaches north of 170mph.
That claimed weight is for a fully-equipped Lightweight GT with leather trimmings and air conditioning, making it impressively light indeed. The low mass comes despite upgrades to modern, larger wheels, servo-assisted four-piston ventilated brakes and modern thermal barrier materials that help to stem the oppressive cabin heat of the original.
Eagle knows comfort is essential; it says the Lightweight GT is designed to cross continents. It has tried to combine ‘taut, sports car dynamics’ with mile-crushing comfort thanks to geometry tuning, special spring rates with bespoke Ohlins dampers and an exhaust note that will keep you interested without leaving you deaf after 50 miles. The price? If you have to ask…