The E-Type had hardly been born when Jaguar decided it needed a dedicated racing derivative. The body would be made from aluminium and, although the cars were instantly recognisable as E-Types, the windscreen was at a different angle and just about every exterior surface differed from the production cars.
Under this very special skin the cars featured equally-special dry-sumped, aluminium engine blocks with wide-valve-angle cylinder heads, Lucas fuel injection and in some cases a five-speed ZF gearbox. The example you see here – 49 FXN – is the most famous of the lot and, incredibly, has raced almost without interruption for fifty years.
Sold originally in early 1963, it had actually been built as a roadster. Unfortunately it suffered a crash and before long was returned to the factory where it was repaired and built up again using low-drag bodywork, developed by Dr Samir Klat from Imperial College. Dr Klat had an advanced understanding of aerodynamics and put everything he knew into the sleek new body. The result being that the car was reportedly clocked at a staggering 174mph at Le Mans!
It was immediately pressed into racing duty from which it has had relatively little respite since. Usually raced in-period by Peter Lumsden and Peter Sargeant with some success, it has remained largely in original condition.
It has been coming to Goodwood and competing in the RAC TT race almost since it was new, so at last year’s Revival it was, frankly, a shoo-in to be wheeled across the paddock and into Hangar 8 to join the ranks of the other Goodwood Greats.
Photography: Antony Fraser