August 27, 2009 1:27 PM
Jay owns more than a few Jaguars, but this XKE is truly one of kind. One day several years ago, Jay's buddy and the expert restorer behind XKs Unlimited, Jason Len paid a visit to Big Dog Garage. Although Jason had come to consult on another Jaguar, Jay was immediately smitten with the XKE that James had driven to Burbank, and offered to buy it on the spot. Needing a new bathroom to accommodate four growing daughters, Jason gave the matter due consideration, and ultimately opted to sell the car to Jay. But why is this XKE so special?
This is the car that Jaguar might have built in the 1970s, had they not been hampered by mounting environmental and safety regulations. Known for revolutionary design and innovative engineering, Jaguar inaugurated a new era in sports cars with the debut of the XKE Series 1 coupe at 1961's Geneva Motor Show. Until the finish of its production run in 1974, the Jaguar's engine would continue to evolve, while safety regulations, especially those required by America, took a toll on design. By the time the Series 3 was introduced in 1971, the cars had added 911 pounds and about 14" in length. They did however include a new 5.3 liter V12 engine with an incredible 272 hp and 304 ft.-lb. of torque.
Like many Jaguar enthusiasts, Jason dreamed of a car that would marry the best aspects of the Series 1 with the Jaguar's V-12 from Series 3, so he decided to build one. But rather than simply stick the V-12 into a Series 1, Jason opted to graft the body of Series 1 onto the chassis of a Series 3. Starting with a 2 + 2 hard top, he cut off the roof and split the chassis to gain an extra nine inches of wheelbase, then grafted a Series 1 tub on the back, and enclosed the headlights. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Although the 5.3 liter engine came stock, Len upgraded to 5.7, customized with a custom big bore kit and six Weber carbs, ultimately pumping hp up to around 400. Now the car not only handles magnificently like its Series 1 forebear, but is perhaps the most powerful street legal Jaguar hybrid of its era of provenance.