Do you sometimes wonder what it would be like to follow Leonardo da Vinci on Twitter, watch Bruce Lee in a Quentin Tarantino movie or listen to a track recorded by Jay Z and Miles Davis? Fascination with the past is a typical human response that stems from either sentiment or curiosity. It can lead to Jurassic Park or the Chevrolet SSR - and both are dangerous ideas.
But when you combine nostalgia with a dose of experience and progress, the results can be one of the most extraordinary cars to have ever turned a wheel. We're referring to the Eagle Speedster, which was built to answer the question: what if the Jaguar E-type was still built today?
The company wanted to see what would happen if they breathed new life into what is perhaps the most beautiful car in history, putting the E-type recreation on par with modern supercars.
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To discover the answer, we visited Eagle's headquarters sheltered in the British countryside in the county of East Sussex. It's here that the first classic car inspired model was born - the Eagle Lightweight Speedster, made famous by its celebrated appearance on BBC Top Gear in 2011.
More recently, Eagle gave the Speedster a sibling, in the shape of the Low Drag GT. It was born late last year and we were fortunate enough to be the very first people outside the company to drive the car. We were accompanied by the Eagle Speedster from Top Gear, with Paul Brace, the creator of both cars, at the helm. Your Eagle Speedster experience can't get better than this.
The new car is clearly a nod to the E-Type Lightweight Low Drag Coupe racecars, of which only three were built in 1963. Its shape and color are reminiscent of the most popular example - the streamlined coupe (serial # S850662), which crashed shortly after its completion and was only reconstructed in 2011. While the original is priceless, an Eagle isn't exactly a cheap substitute. The Eagle Speedster comes with a shocking price of $1-million, while the coupe is another $250,000!
Yet can an old E-Type be worth about the same as the entire Ferrari range put together? Well, the price is governed largely by the manufacturing costs, which are extreme.
To put it into perspective: for the same amount as designing the Eagle Speedster windshield and making ten of them (as a reserve for future replacements), you could buy a new Lamborghini Aventador. So every journey in an Eagle risks perhaps the most expensive stone chip in history!
Since there will never be more than a handful of these entirely hand-built beauties in existence, the full cost of the project's R&D must be borne by a few cars. Taking this into consideration, as well as the employment of the small workforce of highly-skilled British craftsmen, the manufacturer's profit on each car is relatively small.
Driving a pair of cars costing $2,250,000 is a sobering experience but it left us in no doubt that if the E-type were still around today, it would be exactly like this.
Half a century ago, the E-Type was the most important model in Jaguar's history. It embodied all that was great about the 1960s, with its sensual curves and long hood clearly evoking the sexual revolution. The dramatic classic car proportions also emphasized its aerodynamics and engineering, promising new levels of performance.
Eagle has remained faithful to the spirit of the original cars, taking the aesthetic to an even higher level: exaggerating the proportions and making them even lower - the Speedster is only 39" high, for example.
The rear-end is both longer and more sculpted, while the front is distilled to the essence of Malcolm Sayer's original concept, which he penned in the 1950s. There's something brutal about the low, raked windshield, minimal ground clearance and exposed exhaust pipes. It's not something that can be replicated today but Eagle is able to get around the modern regulations.
Officially, each Eagle is based on an original E-Type. They still bear the black license plates from the classic car era. So while they're thoroughly rebuilt, somewhere underneath the sinuous body is a chassis stamped with the original serial number from when it was constructed in Coventry all those years ago.
Under the hand-beaten body, every detail is very close to original but has been slightly improved in some way, down to the number of teeth on the steering gear or the shape of the gas pedal. Apart from the front indicators, which are taken from the younger Jaguar XK8, there are few half-measures here.
Most modern car manufacturers could learn about fit and finish here, as well as the sophistication of design solutions. And while the giant corporations have multi-million dollar budgets and teams of engineers around the world, one person - Paul Brace - is essentially responsible for the Eagle sports cars.
Not only is Paul the technical director who devised the hundreds of developments, but he also designed the bodies, which are admired by everybody from Jeremy Clarkson to Jaguar's own head of design, Ian Callum.
Eagle also created its own five-speed gearbox, with the ancillary components supplied by the top names in motorsport, such as the clutch and brakes from AP Racing or the adjustable suspension from Öhlins. Paul also added anti-roll bars for good measure - after all, he used to be a racing driver.
All these enhancements have eliminated the inherent shortcomings that limited the E-Type's original creators. The classic car narrow wheels and track, for example, have been substituted by wider equipment, tightly packed into the wheel wells using modern tires; the early carburetors were exchanged for electronic fuel injection; the wheelbase is 2" longer to allow more room for the occupants.
Visually, the Eagle interior is similar to the original. There are the same classic car toggle switches on the dash as the Series 1, but they have different functions assigned, such as modern luxuries like air conditioning. The seats are considerably more comfortable than before, although you still sit quite high in order to see over the pronounced power bulge in the hood. The owner of the Coupe we drove even opted for power steering.