8 September 2017

​Jaguar's electric E-type Concept Zero suggests the future of classic motoring is ultimately safe

By Malcolm FlynnMalcolm Flynn

Classic car lovers of the future won't be forced to get their kicks from static museum pieces after all, with Jaguar's solution revealed in the form of a pure-electric version of the legendary E-type Roadster.

Unveiled at this week's Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest in London, the E-type Concept Zero has been created by Jaguar's Classic Works division, which is usually focused on the preservation and recreation of classic models. 

Preservation has been taken a few steps further with the Concept Zero, by showcasing how classic car ownership may be possible in a world where petrol is harder or impossible to come across. Such a reality is years away, if at all, but lovers of old cars should now be able to sleep easier. 

Known internally as Project Dylan, in honour of the legendary musician's transition from acoustic to electric guitars, Concept Zero has been taken from a barn find 1968 Series 1.5 E-type Roadster and restored to as-new condition by the Classic Works, with a few discrete but significant alterations. 

Under the bonnet sits a bespoke 40kWh lithium-ion battery unit which has been designed to fit with near-identical dimensions and weight to the original twin-cam straight six petrol engine. Instead of the original manual transmission is an electric motor with reduction gear, which feeds power via a custom tailshaft to the original differential and final drive ratio. The battery charge port has even been integrated into the original fuel filler.

Jaguar says the drivetrain uses some technology from the upcoming I-Pace electric production car, but isn't specifying exactly what.

Keeping the electric unit to the same dimensions as the petrol unit has simplified the conversion process and has allowed the Concept Zero to retain original-spec E-type suspension and brakes.

Amazingly for a usually heavy electric vehilce, the Concept Zero's total weight is actually 46kg lighter than a regular E-type. Weight distribution is also similar, so the drive, ride, handling and braking of the original car has been preserved. The video above suggests the straight six snarl has been replaced by a jet engine-like whine though.

The XK 330-4 power unit delivers 220kW for a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.5s, or about a second faster than it was in petrol guise. Classic Works boss Tim Manning says the drivetrain has been deliberately limited to preserve the classic E-type drive experience as much as possible. A real-world range of 270km is quoted, and the battery pack can be charged from home within seven hours.

The only external changes are the deletion of the twin exhausts and if you look really close, you might spot LED headlight units which have been used for the sake of energy efficiency - with significantly better light performance a sure side benefit.

The interior is a slightly different story, with period-correct seats and door trims disguising a modernised dashboard and centre console with carbon-fibre trim, digital instruments from a current model Jag and a large multimedia screen.

All changes have been carefully designed to be completely reversible, in case someone ever wants to replace its original straight six and four-speed manual drivetrain. Yes, we agree this is unlikely, but the integrity of the original car has been preserved.

Mr Manning also said that the Concept Zero's drivetrain could be used to convert any XK-engined vehicle, including the XK120, Mk2 and XJ6.

Or you could jump on board with the emerging electric drivetrain conversion third-party scene.

Which old Jag or other classic would you like to electrify? Tell us in the comments below