This V8-powered E-Type is one of the most controversial UK cars ever built. But its cheerful owner, Pipey McGraw, isn’t too worried that he won’t be getting an invite to the E-Type Owners’ Club’s Christmas party – he just built this thing to have fun…
The world is broken. It’s devastating, but it’s true – even if you’re able to look past the melting ice caps and the dying bees, it’s really humanity itself that’s the problem. We just don’t like each other very much. Have a look at your preferred news app of choice, and see how many of the headlines are positive, happy stories – two? One? None? No, it’s all hate crimes and stabbings and racism veiled as nationalism. Asinine celebrity provocateurs like Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins make a living from deliberately insulting people online to get clicks. Social media is riddled with hate, with people’s default position being to criticise and belittle rather than support and celebrate.
This isn’t anything new, not really. People have been starting wars and burning each other’s villages for millennia, in the name of money or religion or property. Humans have never liked each other. Now, there are two ways to react to this toxic state of affairs. The first is to let it break you down, to retreat into yourself, kick out at the world, and give up on humanity. The second – and by far the healthier option – is to do what Pipey McGraw does, and simply enjoy your life with a big smile on your face and not care what other people think.
This isn’t to say Pipey’s a jester, or some sort of doormat; he likes to needle and provoke for the sake of his own amusement, and this is mirrored in the cars he builds. His previous hits include the world’s lowest Mk1 Golf, the shell dropped onto a Beetle chassis and running a bridge-ported Wankel rotary in the back, and a VW K70 artfully buttered over the mechanicals of a Passat W8 – both of which achieved two important things: to create cars that have never been attempted (or even imagined) before, and to get up the noses of classic car enthusiasts. Because if there’s one thing that classic purists really love, with their tweed elbow patches and old-money snootiness, it’s to insult and deride young-upstart modifiers. Pipey loves to prick their pomposity. And with this outrageous E-Type, he’s really putting some noses out of joint.
“Modifying an E-Type is always going to ruffle some feathers,” he laughs. “It gets as much dislike as it does likes… but nine times out of ten when I explain to people who hate it that I’ve not just taken a perfectly fine E-Type and modified it, but instead spent a year and half trawling the country for scrapyards and Jag restorers and piecing it together, they seem to come round to it a bit! I mean, I’m only in my twenties. I’d love to be in a position to buy and modify an E-Type, but I don’t have thirty or forty grand lying around to buy a basket case that looks like it’s been chilling with the Titanic most of its life, then plough another thirty or forty grand into restoring it. My Jag has been built realistically, the only way I could actually do it and make it happen.”
We’re on fairly safe ground to park the ‘sacrilege’ label, then. Sure, it’s not a sympathetic restoration, but neither is it a hooligan reworking of an original survivor. If Pipey hadn’t rescued this Jaguar, it would have crumbled away to dust. He has every right to do what he likes with it – and the fact that he likes to do breathtakingly naughty things with cars is very much alright by us.
So how does an average Joe in his twenties get into E-Type ownership anyway? Well, first you’ve got to find yourself a cheap one, and Pipey’s approach was to base his project around a Series II 2+2 shell. These variants are always cheaper, as the 2+2 is considered by many classic enthusiasts to be the gawky bigger brother to the sylph-like coupé– the act of fitting rear seats meant that Jaguar raised and extended the roofline to weird proportions… although that’s worked out perfect in this case, as Pipey’s front seats are so far back that he’s essentially sitting in the back anyway. The 2+2 provides much better headroom!
The shell itself was located in the north of Scotland, a mere 28-hour drive from Pipey’s stomping ground in Bournemouth, and was in fact a US import in the possession of a chap with a number of E-Type projects on the go. What he neglected to mention in his advert was that he’d tried to french in a set of ill-advised Ferrari lights to the tail – but having travelled all that way, there was no way Pipey was going home without it! “Moss Europe have supplied me with the panels to rectify the rear, I just haven’t got around to fitting them yet,” he reassures us.
The fun part with buying an E-Type shell is that it’s just that – a shell. There was no chassis to speak of, so what’s the solution there? Sell a kidney and drop the cash into a bona fide Jaguar floorpan? Nah, that’s not this guy’s style. After lots of measuring and searching, Pipey and the fellas at Coltech Classics hit upon the answer: the Luego Viento.
No, we hadn’t heard of it either. The Viento is actually a Caterham-style thing designed to run a V8, which just so happens to have an identical wheelbase to the Series II 2+2, so Coltech had a head-start on actually turning the car back into a car, while Pipey found himself tumbling down the rabbit-hole of parts searching. You see, when you have a bare shell and nothing else, you need to find rather a lot of parts – and the problem with E-Type spares is that specialists know what they’re worth, and charge insane prices for parts in good nick.
Aha, but this is where Pipey had the advantage. He didn’t need them to be in good nick. He just needed them to be good enough to work. So, by physically hunting down every Jag breaker and hoarder in the land, as well as feverishly chasing E-Type-related hashtags on Instagram, he was able to cobble together enough usable Jaguar parts for the machine to make sense. The bonnet’s from a Series I (preferable, as it has flush headlamps, unlike the Series II), as is the tailgate, and impressively one of the doors is from a Series III roadster – which obviously didn’t fit and had to be substantially modified!
The global parts-search became an all-consuming obsession, and this Frankenstein’s monster of an E-Type is made up of bits from all over the world; “there are panels and trim from easily about fifteen different cars,” Pipey grins. Naturally, of course, it’d never be good enough to simply build it up to look like a regular E-Type; while the corrosion repairs have been limited to necessary rather than total (check out the holes in the tops and bottoms of the front wings, for example) in order to tell a story about the car’s characterful past, it’s also been retro-modded to raise hell. That seismic rear diffuser came from a Vauxhall VX220 race car, the brutal wide arches are from a Porsche 930 of all things, and the whole thing’s been coated in a tongue-in-cheek Irish Green that’s then been artfully weathered. And all of this misbehaviour comes before we’ve even mentioned the engine…
Before this car was totally complete and when it was doing the rounds last year, people started to refer to it as the ‘3-Type’. Why? Because Pipey was running an outrageous triple-rotor Wankel rotary engine – a 20B-REW from a Mazda Cosmo, with its turbos removed and running as a bridge-ported nat-asp screamer with RX-8 rotors. An absolutely mentalsetup. But, as there are now eight velocity stacks poking up through that radically altered bonnet, it’s safe to assume that something has happened in the interim to shake up the format a little.
“I loved the rotary to bits,” Pipey says. “But, much to their reputation, it really was so much hassle, and it took all the fun out of the car. Not being a rotary specialist myself, I had to rely on other people to fix it every time it broke – which was all the time! – being extremely expensive, and having to ferry the car round the country.” The logical solution, then, was to swap in the engine and gearbox from a 2009 BMW M3.
Yep, Pipey exists in a world where perceptions of ‘logical’ are rather different to the mainstream, and that’s a very good thing indeed. In its native E90 M3, that 4.0-litre V8 would have made a solid 414bhp straight out of the box. In this Jag, with ITBs and hilariously long trumpets, plus that shorty exhaust system exiting aft of the front wheels, and a decent tune, he’s hoping for more like 450bhp. Which is quite a lot for an E-Type – even one with an intercontinental patchwork of body parts, a Cosworth rear axle, and a transmission tunnel approach which requires you to ensure you don’t have anything loose trailing from your pockets. “The swap wasn’t too involved really,” he shrugs. “Just some new engine and gearbox mounts, and fabricating a new prop. The exhaust was the hardest to sort as it’s much tighter in the bay with a V8 over the rotary. With a different ECU and lots of wiring for the modern engine, it fired up on the first turn of the key! And it sounds glorious.” We can cheerfully confirm that this is the case; a sound only matched in splendour by that of countless monocles dropping to the floor as the fuddy-duddies of the E-Type owners’ clubs of the world catch sight of this heresy and find themselves speechless with apoplectic rage.
“I aim to get out and use it as much as possible,” Pipey beams. “Once it’s been on the dyno – which will be very soon – I’ll take her to as many events as I can: circuit racing, hillclimbs, drag events… anything just to go and have fun in it.” And that’s exactly the point of this car. He hasn’t built it to impress anyone and, while he likes to take a wry sideswipe at the haters, he hasn’t done it to annoy anyone either. What you’re seeing here is simply the logical result of a twenty-something starry-eyed dreamer, who figured out a way to own an E-Type when such a thing wouldn’t otherwise be possible. His own unique approach to project planning has ultimately led to this being one of the most admired (and, in many quarters, most reviled) cars on the scene, but that’s all just by-the-by. You see, Pipey likes unusual fast cars, and he fancied an E-Type, so – after a hell of a lot of work – he made it happen. Forget the haters. Forget the online bitching, the finger-pointing and needless criticism. Life’s too short. This fella’s just out to have fun.
JAGUAR E-TYPE TECH SPEC
Rescued E-Type Series II 2+2 shell, Series I bonnet and tailgate, Porsche 930 arches, period Alexander bullet mirrors, Le Mans-style fuel filler, Vauxhall VX220 race diffuser, race roundels, dodgy frenched-in taillights (soon to be replaced), weathered Irish Green paint.
S65B40 4.0-litre V8 (from 2009 BMW M3), ITBs with velocity stacks, custom side-exit exhaust system, M3 gearbox, Sierra RS Cosworth rear axle with LSD.
8×15” (front) and 9.5×15” (rear) RS-Felgen E50 wheels, Hi-Spec 4-pot brakes, Gaz coilovers (adjustable for height and damping), Mk2 Escort steering rack, Sierra front hubs, Luego Viento chassis.
Speedway low-back bucket seats, Nardi steering wheel, Born2Drift short-shifter, line-lock.
“So many thanks to include! The project wouldn’t have been possible without the support from lots of people helping out in so many ways. Paul at Coltech Classics for all his incredible hard work making my silly ideas into a reality. Tom at T E Motors. Pete and everyone at Forge Motorsport. Matt and the team at Moss Europe. James at Rawhide Upholstery. Barry at Pipercross. Tom and Dale at Meguiars. Flowmaster exhausts. Gary Jones who made the incredible velocity stacks. Nemesis UK. Joey, who helped out with BMW engine parts and info. Valdas for all his help with ECU and wiring. Born2Drift for the shifter. I’m sure I’ve missed out people, but I had a tremendous amount of support throughout the build! And last but not least, I must thank my missus Cansu for supporting me and letting me spend most of my life at the workshop and all of my money building these silly cars.”