1961 Jaguar XKE “Lightweight” Roadster

Following the monumental success of both the Jaguar C-Type and D-Type, marque enthusiasts logically expected a similar competition treatment for the all-new E-Type that first debuted in 1961. Despite extensively borrowing tech from its Le Mans-winning cousins, the new E-Type was never intended to pick up where the dominant C- and D-Types left off.

Regardless, the boffins at Brown’s Lane successfully spiced the E-Type up for international GT racing, with a scant 12 aluminum-bodied E-Type Lightweight models escaping the factory. The cars proved particularly competitive at shorter races, but couldn’t match Ferrari or Shelby in the world championship, and Jaguar diverted resources toward the incredible but ultimately stillborn XJ13 prototype. Due to their exceptional rarity, the original factory lightweight E-Types are “blue chip” collectibles with seven- or eight-figure values well beyond the reach of the average collector. Given the relatively high-volume production of the standard E-Type, many cars have been converted to “Semi” and “Full” Lightweight specifications for racing and rallying.

This marvelous example has been extensively built to full Lightweight specs by the respected Jag specialists at the U.K-based Valley Motorsport. In true lightweight form, it features a tub and outer panels crafted entirely from aluminum alloy by Rod Jay of Jaguar Racing Panels Limited, Nuneaton. The body is strategically reinforced for superior rigidity and handling, and includes a proper ventilated hard top and boot lid—both correct for a Lightweight and a must for extended rallies or trackday sessions.

Gorgeous knock-off Dunlop-style wheels fill the curvaceous wheel wells with fat Dunlop rubber, providing both period-correct dressing and giving the lithe Jag an aggressive, muscular profile. The exterior is beautifully finished in black, and detailed with outside bonnet latches, Perspex headlight covers, white roundels, rain light, and an exposed Monza filler cap.

While standard production E-Types could hardly match a Bentley for interior accoutrement, any Lightweight conversion worth its rivets incorporate as much aluminum inside as out. Thus, the cockpit on “437 YUJ” is requisitely race-ready, with aluminum framework for the dash structure, faceplate, and raw door skins. A full FIA-compliant roll cage and on-board Lifeline fire suppression system are balanced by handsome, high-backed rally-style quilted leather seats perfect for longer road tours.

Much like the original 12 Lightweights, the Jaguar XK engine beneath the bonnet is no ordinary warmed-over production unit. This car features a Crosthwaite & Gardiner alloy block and wide-angle head filled with Cosworth pistons and an Arrow billet crankshaft, all breathing through a custom exhaust and triple Weber DCOE carburetors. Built by Phil Hepworth, the engine was previously dyno tested to a heady 365 horsepower—firepower beyond what original and “official” continuation Lightweights have on-tap.

Backing this muscle is a suite of chassis and driveline upgrades, starting with rose-jointed sway bars and SP Suspension coilovers with adjustable valving and ride height. Uprated disc brakes at all four corners are ready for extended trackwork, especially with the alloy ventilation ducts on the rear inboard brake assembly. For cooling, a heavy-duty aluminum radiator keeps temps low up front, while a differential cooler ensures the rear-end remains intact.

This missile was originally upfitted for the 50th Anniversary E-Type Challenge, but was never ran in the event. In preparation, it received FIA Appendix K certification via MSA in England, issued in 2012 and allowing the car entry into FIA-Sanctioned historic races and hillclimbs. Since then, the car has enjoyed only very occasional and casual use, and remains in exceptional condition, with beautiful paintwork over the straight and unmarred alloy body. In its current state, this remarkable Jaguar is a triple threat; when it’s not serving as a strong front-runner at a multitude of international vintage motorsports events, it’s shoo-in for a wide range of road rallies and prestigious gatherings.


Offers welcome and trades considered



Stock number 7536

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