Experiencing the E-Type Zero itself was an unforgettable experience, but there was more to learn from Tim Hannig, Director at Jaguar Land Rover Classic, about the key drivers that inspired him and the team.
BLG: How did the E-Type Zero concept come about and what inspired the project?
Th: To be honest I had the idea before I joined the company, because at the end of the day we have a few major things. The first is regulation and legislation that might make combustion engine cars prohibited in certain areas, in particular metropolitan areas where there are many people living, of which some will own these cars and love these cars. So what are these people going to do? Could this mean we would see less or no classic cars? That would be a massive shame, as a classic car is an equaliser for everyone – people like them and are happy to see them even if they don’t own them. It is a nice thing to see and be around and it would be very sad to see numbers decrease, so this was one side we were thinking about.
The other thing is, we have a changing generation and people are actually looking for a higher level of convenience. They love the style of classic cars, but to what extent do they still want to deal with carburettors, leaking oil, and all those sorts of things that come along with a car from the 50s, 60s, or even 70s? So we were wondering how we could future-proof it from a technical side.
On the other hand, we are all people working here and we simply thought it was a pretty cool idea. So the project had this playfulness about it from the start.
An enormous amount of people, for varying reasons, said it couldn’t be done.
We set really complicated parameters like minimum range and we couldn’t impact on the space available for the driver, or any impact on the structure. Lots of people said this would not be possible; that the car wouldn’t go far enough or accelerate fast enough, so we actually came to the point where we decided we just needed to go ahead and build one to prove the concept. So that’s what we did.
BLG: I heard rumours that the project codename was Project Marmite?!
Th: Yes, it is true, because of course you either love it or you hate it. But actually then we changed the name to Project Dylan because of Bob Dylan switching from acoustic to electric guitar!
BLG: Were there any particular technical difficulties?
Th: The majority of difficulties came down to packaging. Often classic cars have lots of room in some areas and next to no room in other areas. For example, in the E-Type the transmission tunnel is really tight, so that was quite difficult. Trying to keep the weight distribution sensible was also difficult.
On the plus side, the team have complete flexibility with the tuning, which you don’t necessarily have with internal combustion engines, so actually in some ways they had even more freedom.
BLG: Is there a cost difference between building a restored E-Type and building the E-Type Zero?
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