When you’ve got one of the world’s most beautiful automobile designs in your heritage portfolio, it only makes sense to use it to draw attention to your most future-facing ideas. Thus was born the Jaguar E-type Zero, an all-electric, zero-emissions version of an original 1968 Series 1.5 convertible.
Before you start sharpening your knives and hunting down the engineering team that butchered such a gorgeous classic, you should know that there’s nothing irreversible about this particular EV conversion. The car was restored by Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works and can be returned to internal combustion at any time, preserving the vehicle’s original design while simultaneously allowing for it to be appreciated in an entirely new context.
In fact, the E-type Zero manages to balance the early days of Jaguar performance with a cutting edge electric drivetrain in a fairly inspired and conscious way. Given the space limitations imposed by the classic convertible platform, it only made sense to position the electric motor, battery pack, and other EV components where the gas engine and transmission were originally found, which not only preserved the car’s balance but also obviated the need for dramatic customization of the chassis itself.
Overall, the new drivetrain is lighter than the one it replaces, improving the car’s handling, but in a bid to further ensure harmony between old-tech (suspension geometry, brakes) and modern electric power, the motor itself offers a modest 220 kW. This is still enough for the E-type Zero to slice a second off of its original six-cylinder sprint to 60-mph, clocking in at a healthy 5.5 seconds.
With a range of roughly 170 miles, the Zero imports much of the technology used in the production of the upcoming I-PACE EV SUV in terms of energy management and drivetrain. The decision to use largely off-the-shelf EV gear was a conscious one, as Jaguar is actually pondering offering this reversible electric conversion to customers. The banner for this would-be enterprise is to ‘future-proof classic car ownership,’ allowing those who already own an antique automobile to continue driving it in an EV future where, theoretically, gasoline is no longer easily attainable.
It’s a noble goal, to be sure, but one that ignores the intangible elements of driving a classic, notably the sounds, smells, and visceral experience of a past era of motoring. The E-type Zero certainly resembles the original that it is based on, but it’s more accurately described as a digital facsimile rather than a restoration or preservation effort. That being said, there’s certainly room for both in this world, especially for those more infatuated with the Jaguar’s stunning lines than the voodoo required to maintain a Lucas Electrical system.
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