The Eagle Lightweight GT is a more affordable and comfortable Jaguar Lightweight E-Type

The 2021 Eagle Lightweight GT is an aftermarket, modernized version of the iconic Jaguar E-Type produced by British specialist Eagle. The company has been creating upgraded versions of the E-Type since 1994 and it now offers no fewer than four different variants of the iconic sports car. Eagle’s take of the race-spec Lightweight E-Type, the 2021 Lightweight GT, joins the existing E-Type Speedster, E-Type Low Drag GT, and E-Type Spyder GT. All cars are based on original E-Type Series 1 cars upgraded versions of Jaguar’s iconic inline-six engine. What makes it special and what sets it apart from the original E-Type? Let’s find out in the review below.

Exterior

  • almost identical to the original car
  • smaller front turn signals
  • enlarged wheel arches
  • new wheels
  • different exhaust pipe
  • narrower license place recess
2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Exterior
- image 915426

Eagle’s Lightweight GT is pretty much a rebodied Series 1 E-Type as far as the body goes. The original E-Types are stripped down and fitted with new bodywork made from modern-grade aluminum.

Crafting a Lightweight body takes 2,500 hours of work, so we're talking about a hand-made, completely bespoke process.

The aluminum used by Eagle is thicker and more durable than the metal originally used by Jaguar for these cars.

As far as design goes, it’s very difficult to tell an Eagle model apart from an original Lightweight E-Type. Eagle has invested a massive amount of time studying the original car in order to create a perfect outer shell.

2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Exterior
- image 915432

That’s particularly visible up front, where the Lightweight GT sports the iconic oval headlamps and vent, the bulged hood, and the small turn signals mounted at the corners. The profile also remains familiar thanks to the bubble-style, removable roof that includes a wrap-around rear window and rear-facing vent at the top. Around back, we can see the same rear-facing vent on the trunk lid, a pair of rectangular taillights at the corners, and long exhaust pipes that pop-up from under the bumper.

But the Eagle Lightweight GT isn’t exactly identical to the original Lightweight E-Type. Die-hard fans will immediately spot the differences. starting with the notably smaller turn signals up front. These are also integrated almost perfectly into the body, which should improve aerodynamics. Improvements to the profile include enlarged wheel arches, modified to accommodate larger, 16-inch wheels. The rims mimic the original Dunlop design, but they’re made from magnesium alloy to save weight. If you pay attention to the rear, you’ll also notice that Eagle’s car features a significantly narrower license plate recess. The exhaust pipes also look a bit different, especially when compared to Jaguar’s Lightweight Continuation series.

2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Exterior
- image 915430

All told, Eagle’s Lightweight GT is a very accurate replica of the original car. Hardcore enthusiasts might be bothered by the small changes and the "Eagle" badges, but the Lightweight GT is a proper build that will make a good impression on any Jaguar enthusiast.

Interior

  • based on regular E-Type
  • comfortable seats
  • enhanced legroom
  • leather upholstery
  • Alcantara headliner
  • 3D-printed parts
2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Interior
- image 915427

Eagle didn’t provide a lot of info on the interior, but the photos reveal a more modern cockpit. The original Lightweight was designed for racing, so it featured a stripped-out cabin with a plain aluminum floor, bucket seats, a roll-cage, and a spartan center console. Eagle’s car retains the door panels of the road-going E-Type, while the seats look modern and feature proper side bolstering and leather upholstery. There’s also a tall, leather-wrapped console between them, more similar to the regular E-Type. The steering wheel was also retained from the road-going model, while the roof of the hard-top is draped in what looks like Alcantara.

Eagle also acknowledges some improvements. The design of the floorpan, pedal mountings, and the rear bulkhead have been modified in order to increase legroom. The E-Type is notorious for its cramped cabin and Eagle claims it made dramatic improvements in that department. There’s also a bit more finger room around the seat adjusters, obtained by replacing the original control levers with 3D-printed ones.

Drivetrain

  • 4.7-liter engine based on original unit
  • 380 horsepower
  • 375 pound-feet of torque
  • bespoke five-speed transmission
  • modern engine upgrades
  • bespoke suspension setup
  • more comfortable ride
2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Drivetrain
- image 915429
Under the hood of the Eagle Lightweight GT lurks a 4.7-liter inline-six engine.

This is Eagle’s own evolution of the original 3.8-liter unit that Jaguar fitted in the Lightweight E-Type, but also used in race cars like the C-Type and D-Type. Eagle’s straight-six also features an aluminum block, like the original mill, plus bespoke crankshaft and pistons. Other upgrades include a wide-angle head with larger valves and a higher lift camshaft.

The 4.7-liter cranks out a solid 380 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. That’s a notable increase over the original Lightweight E-Type, which came with a 3.8-liter engine rated at 300 horsepower. All that oomph hits the rear wheels through a five-speed synchromesh featuring a magnesium alloy case. Eagle used the same material for the bell housing, differential case, sump, and rear hub carriers in order to save more weight. Speaking of that, the Eagle Lightweight GT tips the scales at only 1,017 kg (2,242 pounds). That’s exactly eight kg (17.6 pounds) more than the original car, a small weight penalty given all the modern features that go into Eagle’s version.

2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Drivetrain
- image 915431

This Lightweight GT rides on a bespoke suspension setup with a new geometry, revised spring rates and bushings, as well as bespoke adjustable dampers from Ohlins. This setup is not as aggressive as the original Lightweight, as it was designed to provide a bit more comfort for long distance driving. Stopping power comes from vented braking discs paired to four-piston calipers.

2021 Eagle Lightweight GT specifications
Engine 4.7-liter inline-six
Horsepower 380 HP
Torque 375 LB-FT
Weight 1,017 kg (2,242 pounds)
Transmission five-speed synchromesh

How much does the 2021 Eagle Lightweight GT cost?

2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Exterior
- image 915428

Pricing information for the Lightweight GT isn’t readily available. As with other Eagle products, you need to contact the company to discuss it. However, we do know that Eagles typically start from around £700,000 and it’s safe to assume that the Lightweight GT is no exception from this rule. Yes, this car is anything but affordable, but it will set you back a lot less than an original Jaguar Lightweight E-Type or a Continuation series model. With just 12 units built, the original Lightweight E-Type is now worth million. Back in 2017, a restored example changed hands for a whopping $7.37 million. The Continuation series, which included just six cars, was sold for more than $1.5 million a pop.

Competitors

2011 Shelby Cobra "50th Anniversary" High Resolution Exterior
- image 390100

When it comes to classic cars rebuilt for the 21st century, there aren’t many options out there. If you’re looking for modern replicas of iconic race cars, there are plenty of builders that recreate models like the Shelby Cobra and Ford GT40. But the offerings are much more limited when it comes to rebuilds based on original chassis. For these, you’re pretty much stuck with Jaguar and Aston Martin, one of the very few companies that build continuations series models from the 1960s. But as mentioned above, these are notably more expensive. What’s more, they’re not available to the general public, but offered to collectors that already own classic cars from their respective companies. In short, you won’t be able to buy a Continuation series E-Type unless it pops up at an auction. And it will set you back at least $2 million. An original car will probably cost as much as $10 million in 2021.

Conclusion

2021 Eagle Lightweight GT Exterior
- image 915430

Eagle is a small but respectable company. It has built almost every single version of the E-Type out there, including the original steel-bodied coupe and roadster, since 1994. Now, it offers four additional versions, covering all the special race-spec cars that Jaguar developed in the 1960s. The Lightweight is obviously the most iconic of them all, sharing its place at the top of the lineup with the Low Drag Coupe.

The Eagle GT may not be an original Lightweight Jag, but at least it’s based on an authentic E-Type and it’s almost identical when it comes to looks. It’s also a friendlier car thanks to its well-equipped interior, while the drivetrain makes it easier to live it if you’re planning to drive it a few times a week. Not only it’s significantly more affordable than the original Lightweight E-Type, but you can actually buy one without having to own a stable of expensive classics.

  • Leave it
    • still not the real thing
    • not as valuable as the authentic Lightweight E-Type
Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

The question ‘what’s the best an E-Type can be’ has been answered by Eagle, the world’s leading specialist in the legendary Jaguars. More than 35 years of E-Type experience has been focussed on the analysis of every component, identifying no compromise design improvements, followed by an 8,000 hour build to create the missing model in Jaguar’s E-Type evolution: a Lightweight, thoroughly reengineered to be enjoyed on the road.

Only 12 Lightweights were manufactured by Jaguar, introducing their most exotic E-Type for the 1963 season. Noisy, brutal, exhilarating and exhausting, these brilliant race cars were intoxicating on the track and visceral on the road. Six years earlier, Jaguar had re-equipped and retuned 16 of their legendary D-Type racers to create the XKSS: race car fast, yet with a level of comfort and refinement that allowed owners such as Steve McQueen to drive them every day. Until now, there has been no Lightweight E-Type equivalent.

“An Eagle E-Type is always an ultimate development of the model, with each variation created for a different type of driver,” explains Eagle founder Henry Pearman. “Three years ago, a customer asked us to create Eagle’s vision of Jaguar’s ultimate E-Type, the Lightweight. The result of that project is the Eagle Lightweight GT, rigorously developed and proven and now ready for further builds.”

The challenge for Pearman’s team was even greater than that of creating its three other E-Type Special Editions, the Speedster, Low Drag GT and Spyder GT. “The factory Lightweight was a stripped-out racer. We wanted to retain that special feel of a 60s competition car from an incredible era in British motorsport, but with the comfort, refinement and reliability that would make it an exhilarating daily driver or long-distance GT.”

The process begins with a 100 per cent strip-down of an original Series 1 E-Type. Every panel is replaced with lightweight aluminium of a modern grade more suited to road use than the thin, fragile material of the original Lightweights. Specialist craftsmen invest more than 2,500 hours forming the sensual curves, then fitting them to a tolerance many times more demanding than those specified by Jaguar’s Competition Department.

The famous Lightweight profile is faithfully recreated, with subtle enhancements to aerodynamics including a deeper rear ramp angle, deeper sills (which also increase chassis stiffness and allow the driver to sit lower, improving headroom and lowering the centre of gravity) and increased screen rake front and rear with bespoke glass. Wheel arch size has also been enlarged to accommodate 16” peg-drive magnesium alloy wheels, modelled on the original Dunlop racing wheels but wider, with a little more offset and one inch taller to allow more modern tyres.

The heart of the car is Eagle’s 4.7 litre evolution of the famous Jaguar XK straight six that was fitted not just to E-Types, but also to the C and D-Types that, in the 1950s, won an astonishing five outright victories at Le Mans. Factory Lightweights were specified with an aluminium block replacing the iron block of road cars, an upgrade replicated by Eagle. A bespoke crankshaft, pistons and con rods improve responsiveness and durability, while a wide-angle head, as specified for factory Lightweights, accommodates larger valves and a higher lift camshaft for improved breathing.

Peak power of 380 bhp arrives at 5,750 rpm, but the pleasure of this unit is the vast wave of torque: 375 lb ft at 4,000 rpm and a wonderfully flat curve that makes the Eagle Lightweight GT feel effortlessly fast, before an urgent, howling dash for the redline.

From hand-forming to 3D Printing
Ultra-lightweight magnesium alloys are specified for the gearbox case, bell housing, differential case, sump and rear hub carriers. The gearbox has been uprated to a carefully re-engineered, all synchromesh five speed unit, taking care to provide a perfect period feel to the change with no compromise in the position of the lever. There is no compromise allowed in the gearbox ratios either, as each one has been designed to ensure a seamless flow of torque that is ideally matched to the weight of the car and the characteristics of the engine.

Through extensive use of specialist lightweight materials including magnesium, Inconel and titanium, the Eagle Lightweight GT weighs just 1017 kg; not in stripped-out race configuration, but luxuriously specified and fully air conditioned for comfortable road use.

Comfortable road use also means resisting the temptation to give the Eagle Lightweight GT an exhaust note that shouts ‘race car’ or a track-focussed suspension calibration that too often makes such vehicles too harsh. “Far more challenging is to combine taught, sportscar dynamics with the ride quality and refinement of a world-class Grand Tourer,” explains technical director Paul Brace. Working together with the seats and tyres, Eagle’s lightweight suspension, carefully specified geometry, spring rates, bushings and bespoke Ohlins adjustable dampers, ensures long distances can be completed in refreshing comfort.

That attention to detail is continued throughout the Eagle Lightweight GT in the most comprehensive review and enhancement of an E-Type ever undertaken, accomplished with great sensitivity to the original feel and aesthetic. Take the driving position as an example. The design of the floorpan, pedal mountings and the rear bulkhead have been tweaked to dramatically increase legroom in the E-Type’s notoriously cramped cabin while the seats are redesigned to improve safety, retention and long-term comfort. The remarkable attention to detail has even increased finger room around the seat adjusters, using the latest 3D printing techniques to create bespoke control levers.

Most of the revisions, like the gorgeous peg-drive magnesium alloy wheels and aluminium three eared wheel spinner nuts, could be described as ultimate evolutions of the correct period technologies, but there are also carefully selected modern systems that have been discreetly integrated. Braking is by four piston, servo assisted vented discs, a subtly integrated electrical distribution panel increases safety and reliability and the extreme cabin heat of the original is solved by modern thermal barrier materials and the careful integration of a discreet airconditioning system; designed in-house to eliminate the compromises that would be inevitable with a bought-in design.

Pearman says the Lightweight GT is a classic supercar that fuses the character and charm of the original Jaguar E-Type with the intoxicating thrills of a 1963 factory Lightweight, thoughtfully and comprehensively re-engineered to ensure the new owner enjoys every mile, every day. For enthusiasts wanting to wrap the intense flavours of ‘60s motorsport in the sumptuous, hand crafted comforts of a luxury GT, “this,” he states with confidence, “is as good as an E-Type can be.”

The Eagle E-Type range
The Lightweight GT joins Eagle’s three established E-Type ‘special editions’; the Speedster, Low Drag GT and Spyder GT. Just two ‘special edition’ E-Types will slip discreetly from their UK workshops each year, each one the product of more than 8,000 hours of skilled workmanship and 35 years of focussed, passionate, E-Type experience.

This brings the Eagle range to six, including the original steel-bodied Roadster and Coupe Eagle E-Types of which 48 have been completed since their introduction in 1994. In addition to the rigorous re-engineering of the original vehicle, customers can choose from more than 100 options, developed to ensure that every Eagle E-Type delivers a combination of character, performance, comfort and technology that is precisely tailored to the demands of its new owner.

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