Then you think about the Lightweight Speedster's name; it was derived from the 12 competition roadsters that were built by Jaguar in 1963. Aluminum was used wherever possible, as it is today by Eagle. It formed everything from the bodies to the engine, gearbox to the diff casing and all the way to the dashboard.
As a result, the Eagle Lightweight Speedster weighs 2222 lb, with the GT coupe only 66 lb heavier. This is similar to the minimalist Alfa Romeo 4C today, and yet the modern Italian sports car only has half the power. The Eagle power-to-weight ratio is actually closer to a 997 Porsche 911 Turbo!
A car made when The Beatles topped the charts has a right to rattle, creak and breakdown occasionally, but not these cars. So while the six-cylinder XK engine can trace its roots back to 1949, these are the only part of the car not made at the Eagle workshop. In fact, the internals were cast a stone's throw away at Crosthwaite & Gardner - a small company regarded as one of the best in historic circles and tellingly where Audi went when rebuilding its Silver Arrow racecars.
The engines are bored and stroked to 4.7 liters and some feature a carbon fiber intake manifold for the fuel injection, yet the classic tone of the British inline-six remains. It may be disguised at low revs, but once you give it more throttle the engine reveals a vocal talent worthy of the C- and D-Types at Le Mans.
To date, only two Speedsters have been built, and the sole Low Drag GT has existed for only a few weeks. So we can assume the lads at Eagle would be rather annoyed if I only came back with one of them. But while seated in the coupe I have no other option but to floor it.
Immense torque arrives from surprisingly low revs, effortlessly moving this neoclassic sculpture into supercar territory. The pace and directness of the original E-type have been enriched with the reactions and precision of a modern supercar. And yet the Eagle has one advantage over its modern counterparts - it's relatively small and has better visibility, so the driver can make full use of the road's width, opening up the corners and enticing you to get on the throttle early.
Should you choose to cruise in fifth gear, the car will conform to your wish. Although the Lightweight Speedster doesn't even have a convertible roof, both cars are born as grand tourers and remain perfectly stable at highway speeds - unlike most cars from the '60s...
The level of refinement will come as a shock to E-Type owners. On this point alone, the Eagle has nothing in common with the original.
So while we're constantly told that meeting your idol from the past usually isn't a good idea because your hero turns out to be a perfectly ordinary human being, driving the Eagle Speedster and Low Drag GT was like driving the E-Type of your dreams.
In many ways, the Top Gear episode didn't actually speak highly enough about this machine. It has everything that made the Jaguar such an icon, but with none of the drawbacks or limitations of the early cars.
2014 Eagle Low Drag GT
longitudinal front-engine, RWD
4.7-liter six-cylinder 12v with fuel injection, individual throttle bodies, carbon fiber intake manifold
Eagle five-speed manual transmission
AP Racing four-piston calipers, 315mm rotors f, 280mm r
Independent wishbones with Ohlins adjustable dampers
Wheels & Tires
16x7" f, 16x8" r cast magnesium "peg-drive" wheels, 225/55 R16 f, 235/60 R16 r Vredestein Ultrac Cento tires
350hp at 4800rpm
360 lb-ft at 3600rpm
Building the world's best E-Type
The creators of the Lightweight Speedster and Low Drag GT didn't come from obscurity. Eagle is owned by Henry Pearman; one of the most respected Jaguar E-Type specialists in the world. His company's main occupation for the past 32 years has been looking for the best specimens, then taking them apart and reassembling to the highest standards. The majority are restoration projects, but many are resto-mod conversions using modern components for the suspension, brakes, tires, fuel injection, etc.
During our visit, the showroom was full of E-Types, all built to a standard hard to find anywhere else in the world. And this is why Eagle attracts clients like Martin Brundle or Norman Foster.
Finding Eagle's workshop is your first challenge. You're looking for a gate in a hedge, which keeps the company's collection of buildings out of sight. Nestled miles from anywhere, these sheds and workshops conceal the automotive gems worth millions of dollars.
Despite attracting collectors from the USA, Middle East and Japan, the location is deliberately difficult to find. Eagle is understandably secretive - not only for security reasons but because it's also the owner's home.
It's still very much a family business, with a group of 14 closely-knit workers arriving each day. They've done this for a very long time: long enough to have become world-renowned. The business operates like a miniature factory, where many parts are designed and produced in-house, with hundreds of parts in stock and strict production procedures adhered to.
The idea for their first model came when one of Eagle's customers, an enthusiast from Connecticut, asked for something "a bit special." Initially built as a one-off, Eagle Speedster No1 met with so much interest the company decided to build another - the "Black Cognac" Lightweight Speedster that is seen in our photos and the famous Top Gear episode. The silver Coupe is only their third car!
It seems astonishing that these three cars have caused such a stir, but they sit at the pinnacle of the resto-mod movement, sharing space with luminaries such as Singer's Porsche 911 conversions. And while Eagle might be new to vehicle construction, there's no room for experiments or to learn from their mistakes. You certainly won't hear "ASAP" mentioned either. A typical Jaguar E-type restoration can take up to a year, so the company only works on about ten cars per year. As a result, Eagle has an eight-year waiting list. But that's the inevitable price of perfection. That, and upward of $500,000...