The Goodwood Revival is not exactly known for its new model scoops but this year it had one. Well, not quite a whole new car but a potentially exciting teaser of what is to come.
Officially the car has been named the Beacham cf E. Unofficially it’s the world’s first carbon-fibre E-type. And a natural lightweight one at that…
As such it won’t be racing at Revival any time soon, but judging by Goodwood visitors’ interest in the project it has the potential to make a rather special road car. With a price in the region of £200,000 it would cost less than some bespoke E-type re-imaginings.
Potential buyers in the home of Jaguar may need to come to terms with a few things first. Such as the fact that it comes from New Zealand and is the idea of a man who juggles running a Jaguar-focused restoration and upgrading company with being a practising GP. But then to people in the know about Dr Greg Beacham and his firm – it has sold 300 Beacham Jags in the UK in the past 25 years – this is unlikely to be a problem. The firm’s growth has been fuelled solely by word-of-mouth recommendations.
Greg Beacham, who runs the Hasting, NZ, based company with his son, Alex, says he wants to make 12 of the E-type replicas (sorry, cf Es) over the next 12 months, and that already there are firm orders for five cars – with the prospect of another four orders following the project’s unveiling at Revival.
The premise behind it is increasingly popular these days: classic car appeal with everyday useability and modern car comforts. It will be road-registerable and Jaguar-powered, while despite being built from scratch it will stay dimensionally and stylistically faithful to the original. It will come with mod cons from climate control to airbags to electronic traction aids. And will be available in roadster and hardtop forms, special-bodied cars – a carbon-fibre Low Drag coupe anyone? – are also being investigated.
It will also be pretty quick. According to Greg using carbon-fibre (and aluminium) instead of steel will save more than 400kg. The aim is to get the fully trimmed and equipped car in at around 1000kg. Which with the 550bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the F-type aboard should guarantee fireworks.
‘It’s a Lightweight E-type without trying,’ Greg told us when we called in on his stand in Revival’s Over The Road section. ‘The power to weight ratio will be in the supercar class but it will be very driveable horsepower.’
The Beacham cf E’s looks today require some imagination: all that was on show at Revival was the carbon-fibre bonnet and rear bodywork on an aluminium subframe. Perhaps we should forgive them for that; the project has only been nine months in the making and the body was completed and put on a plane to Heathrow just two days before Revival.
Although it is without doors and boot lid (to be in aluminium) and its A-posts (titanium), it’s still clear what it’s going to be when it’s complete. As it stands, this main body section is said to weigh just 119kg and be four times torsionally stiffer than a steel equivalent. ‘You can put the bonnet on the ground and walk across it without damaging it,’ says Greg. When GRR visited, a chap came by who was sold on the idea of just a carbon-fibre bonnet to fit his original E-type…
A finished Beacham E-type sharing stand space gives a flavour of what the carbon car will be like when complete. Under the body here are Jag supercharged V8 and drivetrain, and XK8 suspension, airbags, electronic traction aids and brakes as well as all the Jag’s creature comforts. And all of it impressively incorporated into a restored original E-type – though with the consequence it weighs 1460kg.
Restoring and upgrading Jaguars like this has been the Beacham way, but according to Greg Beacham sourcing original E-types for such transformations is no longer viable, much perhaps to purists’ delight. Thus the move into a complete new E-type re-creation using carbon. To purists’ relief, perhaps?
‘I wouldn’t be in business if I relied on purists,’ Greg says. ‘I am in business because there are people around who love the looks of cars like the E-type and MkII but who want something reliable, efficient and safe that can be easily driven in cities and over long distances. The E-type is the greatest looking sports car ever but owners are often disillusioned with the way an original drives today. We can change that.’
The world’s first carbon-fibre E-type copy from a doctor in New Zealand? Stranger things have happened… but we will know for sure when we see the finished article, promised for the new year.