Nestled in the folds of the South of England, is a company doing extraordinary things with Jaguar E-Types.
This is Eagle.
Hopefully, by now you might have seen our review of Eagle`s latest creation, the lightweight GT.
It is stunning to look at, and invigorating to drive.
So much so that we thought it would be nice to take a deeper look at what goes on in the workshops at Eagle and the story behind designing and building this particular car.
So here is Eagle's ever enthusiastic and knowledgable Paul Bryce who, well, I'll let him introduce himself.
I'm Paul, Paul Bryce.
And The company is owned and run by Henry Pearman.
I've worked for Henry now for 30 years.
And I've lived and breathed these things ever since.
And I'm a director now, I guess you could say the technical director if you like so,in the early days, I would be building the cars.
There were only a few of us and I was building these cars with Matt, fellow director These days, most of the day goes on tweaks and the design and the upgrades and all that good stuff really.
We've been restoring and upgrading regular steel body types for 25 plus years now.
It was only 10 years ago that we moved into special editions for one reason or another And the first one was the speedster, which is a another story altogether.After the speedster, we resurrected a previous project, which we've thought hadn't completed, which was our load rank GT.
And our load GT was basically our interpretation of jaguars original, gorgeous low drag coupe.
That was kind of a stillborn rice project.
It never thought to run in period for one reason or another.
I think their race regulations changed.
Fabulous, gorgeous looking car.
And you know, people were doing kind of copies of that based on E types, but they were race replicas.
So in other words, they were compromised as far as a road car will go.
So what we did was Build our version of it, give it plenty of space inside, four inch sound insulation, air conditioning, and basically make it a lovely drivable usable Rocha.
Then went on to Spyder GT, which was a third Special Edition E Type.
And that was basically all the qualities of the Speedster, all the visual corner cues and tweaks and modifications.
With a convertible top so it just put a lot more practicality into it.
Didn't you know, it wasn't a speedster convertible because what really defined the speedster was the the lone windscreen and we couldn't have that low we couldn't maintain that low windscreen and have a convertible top there simply wasn't the headroom That's how far we went with those special additions.
And it's almost seemed a natural progression to what we've done with the low drag GT and make this everyday usable variation of a beautiful race car.
We've done the eagle interpretation of Jagger's lovely lightweight races.
The tart came out in 61, and it was a very quick capable car as we all know it's a well a well told story on the racetrack.
You know, it very much was a road car on the racetrack.
It was perhaps a bit heavy and it was lacking in a few.
Areas so it did okay but it didn't do amazingly well.
In 1963 Jaguar decided to take it a little bit more seriously.
And so that's when they built and they built famously a dozen aluminum, all aluminum lightweight races.
I mean you mentioned block a put on some of the cars they put a special cylinder head with Different valve angles they use fuel injection, and all sorts of little tricks five speed gearboxes.
They didn't all have the same spec by the time Jackie would built their lightweight races It was 1963.
The top had already been out for three years.
To be honest they were a little bit late to the party.
Ferrari had already been so successfully racing their 250 gtos And they did well, but they kinda missed the boat a little bit.
If only they'd done this race project back in 60, 61, they could have probably cleaned up, I would imagine.
So body wise, we've tweaked and accentuated everything that we like about the car.
Everything's pushed and shoved, and it's not Particularly, it's not blatantly obvious you if you parked it next to an original they're very different.
The screen is very upright on the original.
So we've added some more rights, which is quite an undertaking for a small company doing very small numbers.
That's You know to, be having a windscreen specifically made for that car, is quite something, the roofline is, subtly different, I'm not gonna tell you why it's slightly different but, a side by side or maybe you can spot it but, it's a slightly different roofline, and we think that, improves the car a lot, especially when you're looking at it from the back.
we've adopted some of the features that have worked well on other cars.
The speedster had deeper seals and the main reason for that was because we lowered the floors to get the driver down.
Down below the low screen.
Well, we've maintained that because the U type's never been a roomy car.
In fact, quite the opposite.
The test driver, Norman Dewis, the test driver was actually quite a small guy.
And he's caused us enormous problems, because of the fact that the car is so snug inside.
It has the same very simplified body with no bits and pieces now override is it's got flashed in indicators instead of the more bulky original units.
The rear end comes around to a small number plate aperture.
It worked well honestly I don't I think it lends itself to that as well.
We've maintained that nod to its race heritage, we've got subtle roundels on the doors and the bonnet.
We've maintained its key feature is its hard top with maintain the features of the little roof vent and the little boot vent, the rear vent, the boot vent Since the rear brakes and the roof and fence the cabin.
So they're still practical but that's just given a little that little nod.
And the oval package we believe is a kind of a nicer more hunkered down, more kind of contemporary look.
If you like you know, it fits in with what we're used to.
We all know that the E type had Super originally types had super narrow tires, which is just how they were and that looked fine in it's day.
And it wasn't very many decades, possibly not very many years before they actually had little skinny wheels.
It's that kind of ethos if you like that we've put through the whole car.
On the lightweight GT, there was much debate over what color would suit the car because it you know it because it does have this different nature and this kind of racy note.
I think it's a really interesting car.
I think it suits it well.
It's a it's a solid, very different kind of blue we would normally do.
Metallic blues, gum metals.
But no, we do few solid colors now and it's an interesting shade.
If you're restoring a more original looking a type it's normally best to stick to the original colors, even if you tweak them to suit our eye today to make them a little bit of a more modern version.
That car clearly wants to look different once looks special.
So since the previous incarnations of our or since our previous special editions, we're always looking for the next thing to do and how we can improve what we've already done.
We're introducing them we're exploiting new technology, new parts, new materials.
Not only if we progress with what we're able to build into a car.
But because this it's kind of got this nod to it's race heritage.
It needs to be, perhaps, a bit more sporty and a bit more aggressive.
So we've built this one using our aluminum engine block.
We've also incorporated a wide angle head, which is what Jaguar were using on those 63 racecars.
Because we're using the wide angle head, it means we don't have a manifold for SU carburetors, which are our favorite carbs.
Very, very civilized, very simple and they do a really good job.
They're not gonnna fit the wind I go ahead.
And even if we made a manifold, the valves are so enormous on the cylinder heads that they wouldn't work properly you really need to exploit the cylinder head.
You need Weber's Now, the way weapons with the with the with the sound and with the water nice and with the rawness.
It kind of suits this and it does change the character.
It's still got a tried and tested five speed box.
That's pretty similar and the running gear is of a very, very high spec.
But then most of the cars we build are now that's what our customers want.
This car is one that can certainly justify using all the latest lightweight parts that we do.
We can do magnesium sumps, magnesium hubs, diff cases, gearbox cases, Inconel manifolds, titanium exhaust systems, lithium batteries.
If we're gonna throw that at a car, then the lightweight GT Deserves another lovely detail which is a another weight saving issue.
But this one gives you double bubble is the the wheel nuts now that the spinner wheel nuts on he types the central locking wheels.
They would normally be made of steel or brass, and then they're chrome plated and it's quite a big, lumpy weighty item.
But they need to be strong because you you lump them up and off with a hammer literally with a with a copper hammer.
We've been wanting to build elementary ones for a while, but it is a bit of a task and it needs to be of an element units that can withstand getting beaten to death with a hammer.
And again, if ever there was a car that deserved it was this one.
So we've we have now cracked that now.
And we've got beautiful aluminium wheel spinners and we actually save a kilogram per wheel, which I say double bubble because that's rotational and unsprung mass.
So it becomes an even more valuable and beneficial weight.
So we've got the weight down to 1017 kilograms.
And this is on a car that's for heat for sound insulation, air conditioning, leather seats, Alcantara headline and heated windscreen.
It's a really nice usable civilized car, and it weighs 1017.
And that makes an enormous difference to everything improves as we all know now it improves every dynamic of the car, the acceleration, the cornering.
Ride quality, the fuel economy.
So there's quite a thing with the wide angle head and four, seven, it's got tons of torque.
It's got 380 horsepower, which these days, the kind of figures that gets thrown around.
You know, that doesn't sound massive but it's got 390 foot pounds of torque as well.
And in a car that weighs about a ton, the power to weight is actually pretty impressive.
And it's the way that it does it as well.
It's not turbo power, you know, pull it pulls from nothing and it just keeps pulling and pulling and pulling.
With the wide angle head and the Weber's is got a more distinct power band than we used to.
Most of our cars will be specified with a 4.7 liter engine, and they'll pull from absolutely nothing.
And they'll just they've just got this linear pedal all the way to the maximum revs and it's pretty seamless.
Now this one has got perhaps a touch less talk Low down, but it's got a much more distinct power band which again kind of suits the nature of the car really nice this kind of racy look car performs in that way too.
Well, the suspension on our cars is we use all the original parts we use as much as many original parts as we possibly can on the car.
Suspension is one of those it was actually really good suspension in its day.
Now the car, the only problem with it was is that the suspension was originally designed when they were using cross ply tires.
And when they changed over to radials, which was actually fairly soon on in production span.
They never actually did anything to the To the suspension geometry to exploit the benefits of the radials.
Well, that is one of the things that we modified very early on, so that we can get loads more grip out of the cast and then using standard suspension geometry and we change the steering arms to Minimize the bumps there down to virtually nothing.
And we've been playing around with spring rates and dampers and torsion bars and anti roll bars.
Over the course of the seven years that we've been going, but one of the slightly more recent updates was working with Olins and islands.
Build Dampers specifically for us and our cars.
And they work absolutely beautifully.
Something that we do concentrate on, and I know a lot of, you know, perhaps more modern manufacturers of supercars.
They might get a bit caught up perhaps chasing the ring time or whatever.
And the ride can very easily suffer from that and a lot of the modern cars have got very, very firm rides.
Our cars are supple and comfortable and the roads around here are awful as they are over most of the UK is lots of potholes, lots of manholes.
Lots of poor road repairs and that's what we drive on.
So that's what we drive them to be nice on and the only ones you the beauty of the Olins is that you know you've got a nice supple and compliant ride, but you've got total control.
I mean, I've, you know, route these cars around these Local bumpy roads many times and I've never once confused and Olins not once there are other dampers that it's very, very easy to overwhelm the damper and you know, you can be pattering all over the road.
We still maintain all the traditional processes and practices.
We've still got guys here that I think you could quite comfortably categorize as being craftsman doing crafts Rossmann work, they're working on machines and in our machine shop, fabrication shop is working with machines that are a lot older than we are and they do the job perfectly.
We've our bodies finished by hand and everything else.
So we've got the traditional craftsmanship, but we are blending that with all the modern processes and techniques and materials.
It would be crazy not to and it's an awful lot of fun.
And I think the most notable at the moment, which I'm finding, personally really exciting is 3D printing.
We can literally 3D draw any shape that would be otherwise impossible to either fabricate or to cast or to machine.
Something's just there's a limit to what you can do with those processes.
You email the file away to the 3D printing company.
And as if by magic two weeks later, it turns up in a cardboard box and it's terribly exciting opening the box and seeing the part that you've just drawn.
But it's just so useful as well.
And the real beauty there and what we find so valuable is that where we're producing things in such small numbers.
Where we're constantly evolving and trying to improve and exploit whatever is just become available or whatever we might have just learned.
With laser cutting or with machining, you would generally try and do batches of parts to get the price off sensible.
So you might get 30 parts laser cut, you might get.
doesn't pass machine to make it viable price wise.
Then you go and evolve and want to do it a different way and you're getting you're wasting a path that you might just be leaving on the shelf.
With 3D printing, it isn't like that.
We can have one mind and we can tweak the next one to suit a little bit better.
I'll make a modification And the next one is got the improvement.
So it's absolutely fantastic.
As far as numbers go, the numbers we produce.
I don't think we would particularly cap one and say it's a limited edition.
And I think that the numbers are naturally capped by the fact that we're a very small company with No intention of getting any bigger,
and there's such a small limit to what we actually physically can do, they're never gonna be common.
They are gonna be very, very exclusive.
To date, we've built six speedsters, only one Spider GT, and the other one in build.
There's three completed low drag GTs with more in build, etc.
Very very tiny numbers.
Seeing an eagle E-Type that alone driving one is then a very rare event.
But also a very special one.
Hopefully even more special.
Now you know just what goes into creating them.
I hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes of this small but fascinating company.
And if you haven't already, perhaps you might like to seek out our review of the lightweight GT, if only to listen to that Weber fed engine, in all its glory.