1960 Jaguar E2A Pilots: D. Gurney, W. Hansgen Team: B. S. Cunningham Race: DNF (S3.0 class) at Le Mans in 1960 Spark - S2100 (resin)
In 1961 Jaguar released the E-Type. It was heavily based on the Le Mans-winning D-Type of 1955, and it came to substitute the XK series (120, 140 and 150). Though the new E-Type (or XKE) was only for the streets, it shared some of the “race traits” of the D-Type. For instance, to add in rigidity, the bodywork was bolted directly to the chassis. But to get to the final E-Type, lots of testing went on at Jaguar’s Coventry experimental department. And as was the norm back then, testing demanded prototypes. Therefore, for testing purposes Jaguar built two prototypes, E1A and E2A. In terms of looks and mechanical concepts, E2A (or E-Type 2A) was closer to the final production version.
A couple years before a new sports car project even began, in 1956, Jaguar officially withdrew from racing. However, though the future E-Type was not intended as a race car, the E2A was. It was sort of an inside clandestine racing project, even designed to comply with the new 1960 sports car regulations. The engine was Jaguar’s old workhorse, the XK6, but with only 2997 cm³. Being under three liters it could race in the Sports Class and not in the much stronger Prototype Class. It was a “regular XK6” inline-6 with DOHC but with an aluminum block, and with Lucas fuel injection. Due to superb aerodynamics, in theory the engine was powerful enough to take the car up to 320 km/h.
The prototype was done in March of 1960, and in fact race-legal. But there was a problem: Jaguar didn’t officially race anymore. Thus, the official line was that the E2A was a “special commission for a client”. And that client was none other than Briggs Cunningham. He wanted the car to race at La Sarthe (and would do so with unofficial factory support). At the pre-race test session in April the car had a bare aluminum bodywork and a British registration number. Later on, for the actual race, it was painted in Cunninghams’ team colors.
At the 24 Heures du Mans of 1960 the B. S. Cunningham team consisted of three Corvettes and the E2A. Of the three Corvettes, only one finished, and the Jaguar didn’t fair better. A blown cylinder head gasket forced the E2A to retire after completing just 89 laps. After Le Mans Cunningham brought it to the US where it raced in a few other races. The car still exists to this day, and is the link between the D-Type and E-Type.
I’m definitively not the greatest Jaguar fan. But since in my eyes a model is only as nice as the history behind it, this was a no-brainer. So, a beautiful model from Spark and with all that juicy history behind it? Take my money!