When Sir Paul Vestey had come to the end of development with his ex-Protheroe E-type ‘CUT 7’, he decided it was time to commission a brand new Semi-Lightweight Roadster. Being a man of great connection and influence, Vestey was able to purchase a bare tub direct from the Jaguar Factory, an extremely rare and privileged opportunity for any factory to allow. This brand new factory tub was mated to a 3.8 litre wide-angle D-type race engine and clothed in the all-aluminium body used on the factory lightweights. It was this same combination of steel tub and alloy body that Dick Protheroe chose for his legendary lowdrag CUT 7, and one that many regard as the ultimate mixture of lightweight and stiffness – particularly in modern historic racing. Finally, the car was painted in Vestey’s famous racing colours of deep blue with a white centre stripe, matching his Ferrari 275GTB/C #9035 and 250LM #6167 in the pictures here.
Vestey raced the car across the UK in 1966 National GTs, before selling to very quick driver John Lewis, who won a staggering number of races in the car, including an incredible 17 race wins on the trot, beating the likes of ‘CUT 8’ and John Quick in ‘WOO II’. During the mid-late 1960s, it would become one of the most successful Jaguar E-types of all time, amassing a staggering 29 overall wins and 6 lap records with John Lewis. Subsequently it passed through four more (non-racing) owners, before returning to John Lewis in 1979. Lewis would soon return his old steed to the circuits, even employing young Formula 3 driver and future world champion Nigel Mansell to race the car at Donington in 1980 – a race he promptly won.
Another hugely successful period was to follow over the next ten years. Significantly, this period would see the car entered into the FIA Historic GT Championship by the Jaguar Works Team, with the well-known Roger Mac driving. This would make the car one of only two E-types ever backed by the factory, the other being the Lindner-Nöcker Lightweight. Mac and the ‘works’ Jaguar would go onto win the FIA Championship overall in 1983 and 1987, as well as a class win in 1985. For the 1983 season, Mac would win every single round. For 1990, and now retired from circuit racing, the car was entered into the Pirelli Classic Marathon by Jaguar Cars for three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser. Although hugely fast, Unser would go onto have a small mishap in traffic, crunching the bonnet against a parked bus, leading to retirement. A 4th overall in the 1993 Tour de France would be the car’s last competitive outing - only returning to track for BRDC track-days over the next 25 years.
Remaining in its Vestey Racing colours (a livery it has worn all its life), this beautifully original competition semi-lightweight is perfectly ripe for a return to the great grids such as the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration at the Goodwood Revival.
A fabulous entry into the world’s most desirable events, including Goodwood, Le Mans Classic and Tour Auto.
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