Few cars are as recognisable or as revered as the Jaguar E-Type fixed head coupe. So when one of America’s best-known custom car builders had a go at improving on the original, fans of Jaguar’s best-known sports car were always going to be up in arms.
One likened the process to being “akin to adding a mustache [sic] to the Mona Lisa.” Another said, “There is not need to “improve” what the original Jag represents. Enzo Ferrari was right when he said the XKE was a beautiful design.”
The unenviable challenge was handed to Chip Foose, a veteran of the custom car and hot rod scene, who is based a handful of miles from the glamorous Californian coastal resort of Huntington Beach.
That challenge came from Hagerty. Foose was filmed so that car enthusiasts could follow the process as it developed from a vision in Foose’s mind to a detailed proposal. And it’s not the first time he has tackled the E-Type.
For the 2019 SEMA show, a motor show that is staged each November in Las Vegas, Foose presented a Jaguar E-Type that had been heavily customised. The 1974 roadster was a commission for a customer, and had been in the works for more than two years. It featured more than just design changes – in place of the Jaguar V12 engine was a 6.2-litre Chevrolet V-8 and GM four-speed automatic transmission.
For the fixed head coupe project, Foose said the original E-Type looked top-heavy, so he wanted to “…bring the car down and then play with the windshield, side glass and the height of the top and just kind of make it a hot rod and a one-off car.”
The result, shown in the video, is a talking point. Some purists may shiver at the thought of even contemplating customising a classic car of this calibre. But in America, where everything from cars to smiles can be given a makeover, nothing is sacred. Even an E-Type.
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