The E-Type Jaguar is rolling art. If you have doubts about that, just remember that Enzo Ferrari, the spirtual father of more masterpieces than any other, called the E-Type "The most beautiful car ever made". That may be the mother of all endorsements. It was the first car to appear in the New York Museum of Modern Art.
So is it possible to improve upon what some see as perfection?
In 1962, shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to explore the possibility of building a car in the spirit of the D-Type racer but with elements of the E-Type's styling and design. They built one car to test the concept. It was designed as a coupé. The only way the monocoque design could be made rigid enough for racing was by using the skin as a stressed member. Previous open-top cars Jaguar race cars were based on ladder frames with independent chassis and bodies. Unlike the steel production E-Types, the Low Drag Coupe used aluminum. Malcolm Sayer retained the original tub with lightened panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel sub frame was carried over, but the windshield was given a more aggressive slope, and the rear hatch was welded shut. It was given rear brake cooling ducts next to the rear windows, and interior trim was removed. All glass except the windshield was replaced with Plexiglas.
Power was provided by a tuned version of Jaguar's 3.8-liter engine with a wide-angle cylinder head design tested on the D-Type racers. Unfortunately, in the one example built, air management became a problem. So even though it was a higher performing vehicle than the production-converted racers, it was never competitive.
In 1963, they decided to try again - evolving their work from the Low Drag Coupe. The new version made even more extensive use of aluminum in the body panels and other components. However, the new version remained an open-top car, much like the D-Type. The cars used an aluminum block highly tuned version of the production 3.8-liter Jaguar engine producing 300 hp versus the 265 hp produced by the traditional version. The factory-built lightweights were homologated by Jaguar with three 45DCO3 Weber carburetors in addition to a Lucas mechanical fuel injection system. Early cars were fitted with a close-ratio version of the four-speed E-type gearbox, with some later cars being fitted with a ZF 5-speed unit.
But Malcolm Sayer pulled one of the Lightweight cars to the side and made it a Lightweight Low Drag Coupe.
The cars were entered in various races. While they never found the success at LeMans or Sebring of the C-Type and D-Type racing cars, they did win many races at lesser venues.
Even without the provenance of victories at those larger races, the Low Drag Coupe has a way of making it not matter.