Classic Jaguar E-Types brought up to speed

Classic cars suck. They handle like bass boats and constantly break down. They’re hot as hell and smell like 40-year-old socks dipped in kerosene. And when you crash, they kill you dead.

Eagle E-Types feel your pain. Starting with an original Jaguar E-Type chassis, the UK manufacturer will build you a better-than-new roadster with modern mechanicals, millimeter-perfect panel gaps, a reliable engine, faultless electrical system, modified suspension, power steering and brakes that work. All it takes $280,000 and three years of patience.

English roadsters sing a sheet-metal siren song that’s lured many into abject poverty. Jaguar designer Malcolm Sayer claimed the original E-Type was the first “mathematically” designed automobile. Although later models were ungainly, in a Picasso blue period kind of way, the Eagle is perfect. 

The original E could sprint from 0 to 60 in seven seconds and carry on to 143 mph. If you opt for the 4.7-liter, 300-horse six-engine with race-tuned suspension and laser-pointer steering, an Eagle can mix it with a Porsche 997. Alternatively, sign up for a smaller, mellower powerplant, a softer suspension and … relax.

As befitting a gentleman’s motor, the original E-Type’s ergonomics were spot on — until the engine began to roast you alive. Eagle E rectifies the problem with cooling in both the engine bay and cabin. Leather seats are as supportive as a group hug and as buttery as old-school French cuisine.

Although there are perfectly restored E-Types out there somewhere, none will gleam, purr or enrich onlookers’ chiropractors like the Eagle. Company owner Henry Pearman says he’s exported six Eagles stateside and none to Southern California. That makes L.A. your oyster, as long as you can shuck the inevitable phallic jokes about overcompensation.

Eagle E-Types run on unleaded and blat byproducts through a catalytic converter. The smaller 3.8-liter engine variant gets up to 20 mpg; bigger-engined models, a lot less. Safety-conscious customers enjoy retractable shoulder-belts and the option of ditching the less-than-soft Bakelite toggle switches for rockers.

Perhaps you must be seen in something so gorgeous that even tree-huggers turn a darker shade of green with envy. Or you’re a classic-car lover with enough experience to realize that old cars are impractical on every level except the emotional. Either way, the brand-new, once-old Eagle E-Type is the sine qua non of upmarket retro. It’s three times the price, but it’s exactly what the new Jaguar convertible wants to be.

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