Low Drag Coupé (1962)
Shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to investigate the possibility of building a car more in the spirit of the D-Type racer from which elements of the E-Type’s styling and design were derived. One car was built to test the concept designed as a coupé. Unlike the steel production E-Types, the LDC used lightweight aluminium. Malcolm Sayer retained the original tub with lighter outer panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel sub frame remained intact, the windshield was given a more pronounced slope, and the rear hatch was welded shut. Rear brake cooling ducts appeared next to the rear windows, and the interior trim was discarded, with only insulation around the transmission tunnel. With the exception of the windscreen, all cockpit glass was perspex. A tuned version of Jaguar’s 3.8-litre engine with a wide-angle cylinder head design tested on the D-Type racers was used.
The only test bed car was completed in summer of 1962 but was sold a year later to Jaguar racing driver Dick Protheroe. Since then it has passed through the hands of several collectors on both sides of the Atlantic and is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
Peter Lindner, the Jaguar distributor in Germany, had his Lightweight modified by the factory to include the Sayer low drag roof and rear panels as part of an effort to win the GT class at LeMans. Lindner’s car was more than a match for the Ferrari 250 GTO but mechanical problems forced it out of the race. Lindner was later killed in a racing accident that demolished his car, which has recently been restored.
Jaguar waited too long before committing to a racing program in earnest and what could have been a world champion in 1962 was not competitive by 1965.
Lightweight E-Type (1963–64, 2014–present)
Twelve cars plus two spare bodies were made by Jaguar.
In some ways, this was an evolution of the low drag coupé. It made extensive use of aluminium alloy metal, in the body panels and other components. However, with at least one exception, it remained an open-top car in the spirit of the D-Type to which this car is a more direct successor than the production E-Type which is more of a GT than a sports car. The cars used an aluminium block tuned version of the production 3.8-litre Jaguar engine with 300 bhp (220 kW) output rather than the 265 bhp (198 kW) produced by the “ordinary” version. Factory-built lightweights were homologated by Jaguar with three 45DCO3 Weber carburettors in addition to a Lucas mechanical fuel injection system. Early cars were fitted with a close-ratio version of the four speed E-type gearbox, with some later cars being fitted with a ZF five speed gearbox.
The cars were entered in various races but, unlike the C-Type and D-Type racing cars, they did not win at Le Mans or Sebring but were reasonably successful in private hands and in smaller races.
One lightweight was modified into a low drag coupé (the Lindner/Nöcker car), by Malcolm Sayer.
Another lightweight was modified into a unique low drag design (the Lumsden/Sargent car), by Dr Samir Klat of Imperial College. Along with the factory LDC, this lightweight is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
Many were fitted with more powerful engines as developments occurred.
On 14 May 2014, Jaguar’s Heritage Business announced it would be building the six ‘remaining’ lightweights. The original run of lightweights was meant to be 18 vehicles; however only 12 were built. The new cars, using the unused chassis codes, will be hand built to exactly the same specification as the originals. Availability was prioritised for established collectors of Jaguars, with a focus on those who have an interest in historic race cars.