When you initially approach the Jaguar E-Type “XL”, your first impression is that this is an ex-factory / works race car restored to a Concours d’ Elegance standard. The competition cues are numerous. Starting from the front end, there are flush fitting driving lights integrated into the nose reminiscent of the limited production factory lightweight E-Types that battled in their era against the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, and the AC Cobra 289 FIA. As you stroll down the car and get a side view, you immediately see a pair of beautiful side exhaust pipes along the rocker panel that hark back to LeMans winning D-Type and C-Type Jaguar. Also immediately noticeable are the alloy disc wheels with their three prong knock off center locks that were originally installed on both the D-Type race cars and the E-Type competition models. Move further down the car to the rear quarter panel and you notice widened and flared wheel arches and a competition style gas filler cap. I open the front bonnet to inspect the engine. I notice the bonnet is aluminum giving me further validation that this is a rare competition model. I immediately see a trio of Weber 48 side-draft carburators, a multi core aluminum radiator, tubular headers, and braided steel hoses with anodized fittings all telling me that this car has race bred provenance. I ask myself the following question, “I think I know my Jaguars, but I don’t remember this exact specimen. Has this car been taken out of long term captivity and been recently restored to compete on the vintage racing circuit? Or, has it been restored to such a high standard to compete for presentation awards at such prestigious events as Amelia Island and Pebble Beach?” As it turns out, I’m wrong on both counts. This car is a bespoke Jaguar that has been created by the maestro Jason Len at his XK’s Unlimited, Inc workshop in San Luis Obispo, California.
This car started out as a standard series 1 Jaguar XK-E coupe. When the owner approached Jason Len about a doing a resto-mod version of his iconic E-Type, he did specify (4) requirements. First, find a creative way to increase headroom in the cramped cabin to accommodate his tall stature. Second, eliminate the extensive rust corrosion that was compromising the structural integrity of the vehicle. Third, increase performance in terms of acceleration, top speed, handling, and braking. Fourth, make it gorgeous and give it a competition vibe. The car is a resounding success on all four counts. “Purposefully Elegant” are the best words to describe it. The curved body lines have a feminine sensual beauty, the competition cues and stance have a decidedly masculine theme. This is not a mixed metaphor car but an integrated package that oozes both performance and beauty.
It is hard to imagine that this car started out as a virtual basket case due to rust. The majority of the rusted monoque was removed and replaced with new sheet metal. Jason solved the limited headroom problem by installing the floor section 2” lower than the standard location. This creative solution enabled an additional 2” of headroom without altering the exterior silhouette of the car. It did however create an underside clearance problem for routing the exhaust system. Once again, Jason found a creative way of using this to his advantage: he routed the exhaust system along the rocker panel on the driver’s side of the car. This particular exhaust arrangement is both an engineering achievement as well as a bold but functional styling cue. In terms of handling, the suspension was upgraded with improved componentry and the center of gravity was optimized (remember he lowered the floor 2”). Stopping power was dramatically increased with the installation of Wilwood brakes (vented & cross drilled rotors, and 6 piston calipers) replacing the obsolete Girling units that were standard issue in the early 1960’s. Engine output has been increased to match it’s its competition appearance.
Jason Len has created another masterpiece. His pallet was a rusted E-Type that many would have walked away from. Jason saw it a blank canvas from which to create something exceptional. This is truly an E-Type that has undergone “resurrection to perfection.” XK’s Unlimited, Inc is located at 850 Fiero Lane, San Luis Obispo, California 93401. They can be reached at 805 544-7864, www.xks.com.