It all started when Prince Harry and new bride Megan Markle drove off into the sunset in a gorgeous Jaguar XK-E roadster. The car had been lovingly restored to better than new condition by Jaguar Classic, a division of Jaguar Land Rover that specializes in preserving the company’s heritage. The car, known as Concept Zero, was retrofitted with an all electric powertrain which replaced the classic XK dual overhead cam engine that was the heart and soul of all Jaguar cars for more than 50 years.
In a press release on August 23, Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, said,”We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the Jaguar E-type Zero concept. Future-proofing the enjoyment of classic car ownership is a major stepping stone for Jaguar Classic. E-type Zero showcases the incredible heritage of the E-type, and the expertise and craftsmanship at Classic Works, while demonstrating Jaguar Land Rover’s dedication to creating zero emission vehicles across every part of the business, including Jaguar Classic.”
The Concept Zero features a 40 kWh battery pack that fits into the engine compartment. It is styled to resemble the appearance of the original straight 6 gasoline engine fitted to the car when it left the factory the first time. Since it weighs about the same as the original engine, the weight distribution of the car is virtually identical to the originals specs, which means the car drives and handles much the same as it did new.
The electric motor is located where the gearbox used to be and connects to the differential through a fixed one speed reduction gear. No increase in weight means the original suspension, brakes, and differential can be retained. That and the highly aerodynamic original body mean the car has a range of about 170 miles. Compare that to the 220 miles claimed for the butt ugly Kalashnikov CV-1 electric car, which has the aerodynamic characteristics of a cinder block and boasts a 90 kWh battery.
(Note: My 1964 XK-E coupe would consume about 5 quarts of oil in 170 miles of driving. I never went anywhere without a case of 10W-30 along. As a piece of automotive sculpture, the XK-E was heartbreakingly beautiful. But it was not a great as a daily driver, based on my personal experience.)
According to Electric Vehicles Research, the Concept One borrows heavily from the technology Jaguar developed for its I-PACE electric SUV. If the Concept One is anything like that car, the driving experience should be memorable. Production is expect to begin in 2020, according to Jaguar Classic.
How much will one of these beauties cost? That is probably one of those “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” situations. To begin, you need an original Jaguar XK-E that is not a rotted out hulk left to sit in a barn since the Carter Administration. Next comes a full restoration at the Jaguar Classic facility. Then and only then comes the conversion to an electric powertrain.
The company has declined to speculate about prices, but somewhere north of a quarter million dollars seems like a safe bet. One can only wonder whether it might not be cheaper to restart production of the XK-E and fit it with an electric powertrain from the jump. Demand, it seems, will far outstrip supply of eligible restoration candidates. The Concept Zero finished in Bespoke Bronze will be presented for the first time in public at the fashionable Quail Lodge near Pebble Beach on August 24.
More About Jaguar Classic
In addition to restoring historic Jaguar automobiles, Jaguar Classic also fields teams of retro racers for historic racing events. A few years ago, I was able to get up close and personal with a brace of XK-E race cars at the annual Walter Mitty vintage racing weekend at Road Atlanta. Here are a few photos from that experience. At the time, I was on assignment for Auto Week magazine, an unpaid gig that netted me a coffee mug and a hat. As it turns out, that hat is what I am wearing in the photo that graces my profile. CleanTechnica doesn’t give out hats to its writers, but the pay is a lot better!
And just for fun, here is another beautifully restored Jaguar prepared by Jaguar Classic — a C Type this time — slithering around a corner as it enters the Swimming Pool complex at the Monaco Historics in 2012.
Jaguars have always stirred the passions of committed car enthusiasts. Perhaps as it enters a new era of electric cars, it can reignite some of that burning desire to own a Jaguar that Ford Motor Company tried so hard to extinguish. I know if Santa ever left an I-PACE under my Christmas tree, I would be one happy camper!