E, ’lectrified: Jaguar Classic Makes a 1968 E-type Roadster into an EV ""
Posted on: September 7, 2017

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Jaguar E-type Electric

Jaguar built more than 72,000 E-types between 1961 and 1974, so if one falls prey to mad scientists converting it into an electric lab rat, we may cringe but ultimately move on.

It should be criminal to molest an E-type—the only sports car Enzo Ferrari coveted more than his own and a permanent fixture in New York’s Museum of Modern Art—by replacing its stirring straight-six with a box of soulless batteries. But Jaguar has done this deed itself, and among fine creations by Singer and Icon, the E-type Zero is about as tasteful as restomods get.

Jaguar Classic, the factory restoration shop that opened last year, found a 1968 E-type roadster that likely had seen all of its best days. Unlike many EV conversions, this is no messy, tangled-wire hack job. Jaguar fitted a 40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the hood with more spot-on precision than Coventry assemblers would have exercised bolting in the original 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine.

The 295-hp electric motor and reduction gear fit exactly where the four-speed manual transmission sat, with all power routing to the stock rear differential. The EV components—developed with aid from Rimac, creator of the nutso, 1224-hp Concept One—can be swapped out for the original gas-swilling, carbureted powertrain, and that’s not simply to safeguard this E-type’s heritage. By fabricating all-new parts with similar sizes and shapes, Jaguar claims it hasn’t altered weight distribution, even as it shaved off 100 pounds. The suspension and brakes also are intact.

LED headlights replace the ’60s sealed-beam units, while inside, it’s an electronic feast of LCD screens and modern switchgear. A digital instrument panel with analog-style dials contrasts with the wood-rimmed, airbag-free steering wheel. Carbon-fiber trim and a large touchscreen replace the central gauges, with only four of the original toggle switches remaining. Jaguar’s rotary shifter sits in the aluminum-trimmed center stack, flanking a chrome e-brake handle and a rubber holder for those little battery-powered things people carried with them everywhere in the 2010s. Jaguar’s goal was to “future-proof classic-car ownership,” assuming future generations will use AC electricity and SAE J1772 plugs.

Jaguar E-type Electric

Jaguar says the E-type Zero can hit 62 mph in 5.5 seconds, or about a second quicker than a 265-hp 1960s E-type. The Zero could have been quicker, but engineers didn’t want to upset the car’s delicate chassis by feeding it SVR-level firepower. Since Jaguar’s straight-six XK engine was, in essence, the same from 1949 to 1992, the company hints that it could retrofit an XJ6 or an XK120 as easily as it did this E-type. Common sense would caution against adding more electrical components to old Jaguars, but that’s a decision best made with a glass of Scotch in hand and a sizable bank account.

As one of the first “Series 1.5” E-types, this 1968 model isn’t worth the dough you’d get for a Series I (1961–1967), but collectors typically price them higher than the Series II (which did away with the covered headlamps and gained bigger bumpers) and the more ungainly Series III V-12 cars (1971–1974). Post–Series I E-types are highly undervalued, which may be the only justification to silence this beautiful car’s exhaust. Well, that and so it can cruise through central London in a century far less tolerant of a little smoke.

Jaguar-E-type-Electric-REEL

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