The Eagle Speedster proves that even perfection can be improved
The philosopher, Plato, thought there was an ideal version of everything.
It's the theory behind why the Parthenon is so beautiful, cuz it's exactly the right amount of width to height to create the perfect facade of a building.
Paul Brace and Henry Pearman had the same idea about the E type.
And they created what they thought was the perfect E type.
And this is it.
The Eagle Speedster.
To my way of thinking, Eagle put right some of the things about the original E-Type that I didn't like.
Personally, I thought the original E-Type was a little bit under-tired.
It was almost on tippy-toes, it had really narrow five inch rims, and of course there was a reason for that.
I mean, Malcolm Sayer, who designed the car, wanted it to do 150 miles an hour, so it had to be ultra air dynamic.
But of course, this car has much wider rims, much wider tires.
It's a much more planted look.
Like the lightweight E-Type racers, if you like.
And the other thing, of course, what Eagle did, they fit it with a 330 horsepower engine with almost the same number of pounds feet of torque.
So this car, weighing only 1,000 kilograms, has a completely modern power to weight ratio.
If you like, it brings the E-Type Launched in 1961, bang up to date.
[UNKNOWN] is a real driver's car.
It's got that terrible feeling that, you know, you're a bit of a [UNKNOWN] in one of these things.
Probably the noise it makes.
And you can imagine little kids seeing it go by and Thinking wow, wow, that's a car.
It's a racing car on the road.
And it's also really good fun to drive, because it's quite lively.
I mean, you know, this car needs some serious concentration to drive properly.
I mean, it's quite challenging.
I mean, the fact is It's a bit dirty but the brakes are very very good.
The brakes are very solid and that's the people's to be honest.
I think the original car, people always complained about the brakes but these are ventilated discs four point calipers so there's nothing wrong with the brakes on this car.
But it's got.
How that lovely [UNKNOWN] feels.
You can imagine drifting it not on the road, but obviously if you can imagine drifting it, hanging the tail out of it.
Having the car on the ragged edge and actually using that wonderful straight six engine to pull you throughout and out of any trouble.
It's a very exciting car [UNKNOWN] Down the bonnet with a bulge that's, well I think it's the biggest bulge in a bonnet in the whole world.
I can't think of any bonnet bulge that's bigger than the V type bonnet bulge.
It's likely because the engine, of course, is canted upwards and the two rocket covers come up and they do need that space inside the bonnet.
But of course, that wonderful bulge With the wings, makes for a very, very, very attractive view out the front windshield.
An Eagle Speedster is of course a convertible, and convertibles have had a very difficult time.
When the E-type was in production, Ralph Nader in America started suggesting that maybe convertibles were dangerous.
So, Porsche developed the Targa.
Mercedes developed things like pop up roll bars.
Manufacturers didn't really like building them because, of course, getting the door and the hood to fit perfectly and not let the water in was a real trial.
So convertible sales have gone down and I think also recently because were on the motorway so much.
But there's one thing about a convertible that I think makes it absolutely amazing, and that is of course, that in the right environment you look fantastic driving one.
And if you want the best looking convertible, of all, to drive in Then its gotta be the Eagle Speedster.
In order to appreciate the Eagle, you need to know the story behind the birth of the original Jaguar E-Type.
This is the story of a brilliant engineering team working together under pressure.
It also highlights the importance of motor In the development of the best sports car.
Bill Lyons put together an amazing team of people.
To develop B type Jag.
Of course there'd been a factory fire which almost, everybody thought, Jaguar's finished.
But no they came back.
Bill Haines who is the chief engineer had been going around the aircraft companies and he'd been looking for new material, new technologies to take from aeronautical into the car industry And that's why the [UNKNOWN] has such deep [UNKNOWN], has such a stiff monocoque before you get into the sub frame to the engine and to [INAUDIBLE].
This is very, very modern car in many ways.
It's built like an aircraft almost.
Bill [UNKNOWN] was helped of course in the design of the [UNKNOWN] by Bob Knight.
Bill famously gave him 27 days to As well as the independent rear suspension in this car.
The better thing.
But then of course the other hugely important man involved in this car was Malcolm Sayer who was the man responsible if you like for the aerodynamics that led to the winds of the moth in the C type and the D type.
So all that knowledge went into this car.
The second prototype of this car was called E2 was actually Borrowed by Briggs Cunningham to take to the mall.
And that car did 180 miles an hour in practice at the mall.
Unfortunately, it broke down in the rain.
But that's why Malcolm Sayer was reasonably confident that the car could be launched as very first guaranteed 150 mile and hour sports car for the rain.
When the E-Type is launched at the Geneva show in 1961, Bill Lyons had a party.
They invited lots of famous stars, they invited lots of racing drivers.
And Bill Bill famously had a plywood box built.
And he opened the box at the dinner and the new car came out And people were absolutely stunned.
I mean, they'd never seen a car that was this beautiful.
Famously What happened after the dinner was that they were so shocked at the response [UNKNOWN] the car that poor old Normal [UNKNOWN] who was test driver at the time was told to immediately drive a car from Brians Lane immediately to Geneva so people could test drive an E-Type.
And he went from Brians Lane in Coventry to Geneva in 11 hours.
At an average speed of 68 miles an hour in the fog.
But he turned up the next day, so everybody could not just see this beautiful car, but they could have a test drive in it as well.
When Eagle rebuilds a Jaguar E-Type, they improve all of the details
[UNKNOWN] with the benefit of better materials.
They strip down every component of an original car, look at it, and see if there's a way to perfect it.
Then the mechanics carefully reassemble the reconditioned components like skilled mechanics build a racecar.
To see this process for myself I took a trip to the workshop where the magic happens I spoke to Mr. Eagle himself, Henry Peirman.
But first of all, I had to ask him, why did he choose the Jaguar E type above all other classic sports cars?
I think like most youngster it was just such a fantastic car.
It came out, I mean I was [UNKNOWN] first came out but just that whole era of things like early 70s.
I love Lamone And sports car racing as well so you've got a row going D type Jaguar, but it's just such a beautiful car.
So I think as youngsters you just get in the back and think wow, that's the most beautiful car I've ever seen.
It stuck with me from day one really.
I had a three year, full time course at college in the motor industry and of course the guys are into Mini Cooper S's and some other guy's into American muscle cars.
But I was the only guy that said it's gotta be an E-type Jaguar.
So it's something that's going right back to Sir Cadbury's Milk Tray efforts.
Where a car, an E-type had to go and jump a broken bridge and things.
So I find, most cars, they are beautiful cars.
And you think I'd love to have one one day.
And almost every car I've aspired to own, I've gone up the road and been disappointed.
And I think the E type is the only car where it feels more modern than any other classic.
We were like every other specialist.
We took E types in for work, we do partial restorations, but everything was a compromise.
And in fact we had one client that came to us and he had a series 2 roadster.
Fully restored lovely car, he used to bring it in for service and we said well that's fine but actually this doesn't work and this is broken and he said it's more bank notes for the shredded was his quote which I always remember, he said why can't you restore a car so it's Like a brand new car.
You know, not recreate a car but bring it back to zero.
And also, just iron out the weaknesses.
And he said is that possible?
So forget, what's the limitation?
I said well really, it's hours.
So I guess we could do it but, he said between 500 and 1,000 hours to restore an E type which is actually a respray.
Some new chrome [UNKNOWN] wheels, and a little fitting trim kit that someone's made from somewhere, that someone has made from somewhere, that is nothing like the shape of the car.
We were looking at what we thought originally, was 2,500 thousand hours to do a zero out restoration, where there is nothing unturned.
So, he said, well, let's do it, and that retrospectively has equaled number one.
They look beautiful, and that's the trouble with (g)these types, that it's such a fabulous looking car.
You can fall in love with something that's under the skin.
It's a total disaster.
So, we take away the worry but, we keep everything that is great.
From personal experience I know how difficult it is to offer engineering perfection at an affordable price.
There's always pressure to reduce the cost of the building material.
To compromise on less expensive parts and the temptation for engineers is to make a component from a better material.
Or to use a part with a higher specification.
The Eagle E type is this process taken to its logical conclusion.
Of course, this makes the finished car expensive.
But the popularity of the Eagle proves there's a market for perfection.
And when the design of the car is the legend that's the Jaguar E type Then this search for perfection is an investment, not an expense.
Thinking about Henry and his passion for the E type as we drive through Hundred Acre Wood in East Sussex, I'm reminded of the quote from Winnie the Pooh.
Some people care too much.
I think it's cool.
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