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BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Retro

This is Helm's new-old Series 1 Jaguar E-Type

This E-Type restomod leaves the best part intact: the styling

Published: 24 Mar 2021
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This, as we’re sure you’re aware, is an E-Type Jaguar. And it is a very clean and tidy-looking Jaguar, you’ll admit, but not perhaps the most noticeably restomodded E-Type you’ve ever seen. Especially if you’ve ever clapped eyes on an Eagle Speedster.

In fact, looking at Helm Motorcars’ work from a distance, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish it from a completely original – if concours-spec – E-Type. And that’s rather the point.

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Where Eagle’s restomods take the essence of the E-Type and deliver the apotheosis of what it could be, Helm’s version is to leave the shape – which Enzo Ferrari once called the most beautiful in the world – well alone.

Inside, however, all bets are off. Master leatherworker Bill Amberg has been unleashed on the interior, delivering the kind of leather trim you’d almost imagine cows would be happy to give up the ghost for. The ochre shade you see here is just one example – the idea is to pick the one that inflames your passions the most. And if that’s jet black, tan or chartreuse, that’s entirely up to you. Or rather would be, if you – like us – were actually in a position to commission a bespoke restomod E-Type.

The leather’s wrapped around bespoke aluminium interior panels, which also carry LED lighting, a Bluetooth stereo and custom instrumentation. This could be the sentence that immediately leads into ‘and good grief, haven’t they ruined it?’, but we defy you to find a single surface that doesn’t look like it belongs.

Of course, a bespoke leather interior wouldn’t be complete without matching briefcases and weekend bags, and you’ll be unsurprised to find a pair of each, perfectly matching the hue of the interior fitout. And without coming over all ‘All I wear is Filson’, this leather is the real deal, from a man raised in the home of British leatherworking and bootmaking, Northampton.

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Mechanically, Helm’s E-Type follows the example laid down by its interior. Nothing is left as it came back when Jag’s workforce was building it in the black and white days – the engine’s fuel injected, the brakes work and the gearbox is an entirely new five-speed unit that will be sure to excite E-Type enthusiasts by actually selecting the gear they intend to. The wiring is completely new – and, even better, has never been touched by anyone who works for Lucas.

The straight-six makes 300bhp, or exactly as much as is ever necessary in a car. It’s also comfortably ahead of the 265bhp Jaguar claimed the original 3.8 made, and won’t be weighed down by anything so pedestrian as steel doors or bonnet – they’re hand formed from aluminium. Probably goes some way towards the 3,800 hours it takes to build each one.

The gargantuan timeframe is likely one of the reasons only 20 of these burnished E-Types will ever leave Helm’s headquarters. The others being exclusivity, of course, and the small matter that not so many among us possess both the bank balance and inclination to buy a new-old E-Type. We’re definitely in possession of one of those things, though. How about you?

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