Photo Courtesy E-Type UK
Riley’s TMA Howe visits E-Type UK, a Kent-based company dedicated to keeping the world’s most iconic sports cars, the Jaguar E-Type, on the road
Ever since the launch of that most British of sports cars in the 1930s, the SS Jaguar 100, the Jaguar brand has been synonymous with the luxury car market. This reputation continued through the 40s and 50s, with Jaguar producing the XK series of elegant sports cars, living up to the sales slogan “Grace, Space & Pace.”
However, while the British marque was doing well, the brand’s image was somewhat dated. Over in Italy, Ferrari was producing fast, sophisticated, sexy models such as the gorgeous 250 GT California.
So, in 1961, at the Geneva Motor Show, a car reputedly described by Enzo Ferrari as “The Most Beautiful Car in the World” stunned a watching world. The Jaguar E-Type had arrived. Costing around half the price of its more exotic Italian rivals, the car was an instant success.
Between 1961 and 1975, the E-Type was sold in various iterations. From the original Series 1 (1961-68), considered by many to be the best, through to the Series 2 (1968-71), and the Series 3 (1971-74), my personal favourite style. The E-Type was followed by the XJS in 1975, although not a true replacement as it was more of a Grand Tourer. It wasn’t until 2013 that the true successor – the F-Type was launched.
E-Type UK: Keeping the Legend Alive
Today, in addition to the Jaguar F-Type, there are many modern sports cars available. But does driving a modern sports car with all those driver aids and creature comforts match the exhilaration of being on the road in an original Jaguar E-Type? If you believe the answer to that question to be a definite “No”, there’s hope for you.
Located in a farmyard in rural Kent in South East England, E-Type UK is a remarkable outfit restoring original E-Types to perfect condition. The restoration business started originally in the US by Harry Fulford in 2008, but in 2016 father and son duo Dominic and Marcus Holland took the company over having seen the potential for the British icon.
E-type UK not only rebuild classic Jags, they also service and store these iconic sports cars for their proud owners (Photo: TMA Howe)
In the short space of time since, E-Type UK has expanded into a full-service provider for both owners and would-be owners. The site is a one stop shop for customers, whether they want an old wreck found in a barn restored, or an existing model serviced and stored.
A Remarkable Attention to Detail
On my visit to E-Type UK, I saw cars going through all the stages of restoration. The care and attention to detail was something to be proud of, with the company’s engineers treating the cars as if their very own pride and joy.
Many projects were being worked on for customers from all over the world who are unable to visit to see progress, something that had become even more of an issue due to the pandemic. E-Type UK therefore create a digital portfolio for each customer with a personal log in, enabling them to see videos and photos of progress. These images become part of the owner’s very own photo book once the car is completed.
One of the great advantages of the E-Type for restoration is that it does allow some modifications, without having to alter the main structure of the car. Consequently, upgrades such as Bluetooth infotainment systems and five speed gearboxes can be made, with any original parts kept should the vehicle need to be restored back to its original condition.
Servicing and Storing Your Classic Jag
In addition to restoration work, the company offers full servicing and storage facilities. Each car stored on site is carefully looked after and is ready to be driven away as soon as required. In addition to the storage of E-Types, many other classics were also visible on my visit… so many, in fact, that I was like a kid in a sweet shop as I identified these wonderful machines.
Recently, there has been a trend across the world for “restomods”, a trend where customers have wanted a classic design with all the benefits of modern functions. E-Type UK have answered this demand with the setting up of their Unleasheddivision, which delivers E-Types that drive and work like a modern car, but with the appearance of a classic. Each Unleashed E-Type is built to the individual customers requirements, to make it a truly unique car.
My visit to E-Type UK was an enlightening experience. From seeing shells of cars that had become neglected to seeing them being carefully restored, to the sight of an engineer taking as much care with cable ties as with the rest of the car.
The Geneva Principle
To sit in one of these beautiful machines today, now fully restored, was an awesome experience. While the original cars in the 60s were not necessarily the best put together, these modern-day E-Type UK restorations are simply perfect.
In 1961, the show car was driven by Jaguar executive Bob Berry flat-out from the factory in Coventry all the way to the Parc des Eaux-Vives in Geneva, arriving just 20 minutes before the car was to be revealed to the world.
Today, E-Type UK have what they call “The Geneva Principle”. Every car they build must be perfect enough to sit under the bright lights of that Geneva show stand, as well as be fast, comfortable, and reliable.
Once restoration is complete, the car must cover at least 590 miles before being delivered. Why 590 miles? That’s the exact e distance from the workshop in Kent to Geneva, perfectly completing the circle that started way back in 1961.
All I need now is an Unleashed Series 3 Roadster with a 6.1 litre V12 and the perfect playlist on my iPhone to accompany me that drive from Kent to Geneva.
Learn more about these incredible cars at https://etypeuk.com/.
TMA Howe is Riley Media’s Automotive Editor and a guy who likes cars… a lot.