When Ed and Paul Watson, E-Type specialists, were approached by a customer to build an electric Series 1, they knew they were entering new territory—and a controversial one. One year later, the Brits only wish they’d done it earlier.
There’s no way around it; extracting the legendary 6-cylinder XK engine (produced from 1949 to 1992!) from an E-Type will not please everyone. I simply wish all the naysayers could test Edward Watson & Co’s latest creations, though, as it would—unconditionally—change their minds.
Edward and his son, Paul, have been restoring and servicing iconic British classics, E-Types in particular, for three decades. They breathe and live Jag’ day in, day out. However, as surprising as one might think, they were very enthusiastic about electrifying a Series 1.
The project came from one of their most loyal customers. After seeing Royal couple Meghan Markle and Prince Harry driving away from their wedding at the wheel of a Jaguar Classic’s electric E-Type in 2018, he instantly knew he wanted one. He has since been focusing on converting his British Classic car collection to electric! To spice things up, he asked Ed and Paul to find an identical Series 1 in Opalescent Silver Blue
Ed and his son Paul sourced an E-Type originally sold in Scotland. It had quite a past. It went abroad for a decade, from 1973 to 1983, before being purchased at the turn of the century by the gentleman they bought it from.
While the Jag’ offered a nice appearance, it was clear it suffered in the structural integrity department. Like most British cars in the UK, it had been invaded by the “tin worm”: Rust had reached everything underneath the shiny exterior skin of the E-Type. Mind you, upon investigations, even the hood needed replacement. But a new “bonnet” installation was nothing for the team. They knew from the get-go they were going to break the Jaguar down to the smallest components before painstakingly rebuilding the car to as new condition.
Becoming an e-E-Type
The conversion’s most challenging aspect was getting all the electrical parts to fit without modifying the bodywork or the frame. There was neither drilling nor welding allowed; it had to be entirely original. Only bolt-on brackets could be added using original holes. In other words, the 6-cylinder block, exhaust system, and tank had to easily be reinstalled if ever required.
Edward and Paul, therefore, opted out of the idea of fitting an axle-mounted electric motor, as many contemporary electric vehicles do, such as the E-type’s granddaughter, the I-Pace. Instead, the duo wanted to keep the original suspension configuration. First, they eliminated the manual gearbox, picking a direct-drive setup and modifying the axle’s ratio from the original 3:07 to 4:55.
Paul selected a duo of NetGain Hyper 9 motors from EV Europe in the Netherlands. They perfectly fill the gearbox tunnel. Combined, they deliver a cool 200kW/268hp and a grunty 477Nm/350lb-ft—perfect for take-off and jumping from bend to bend on the lovely Birmingham country roads where we are testing this beauty.
The same Dutch company also provided 10 batteries from a crashed Tesla Model S. The batteries generate a total of 55kwh while the system operates at 120 volts. This provides the British feline with up 150 miles of range.
Hidden behind fresh custom-made carpeting, two large battery boxes are fitted in the trunk. They contain half the Model S modules. With the disappearance of the fuel tank, the remaining space is more usable than the original one, even if you lose the spare wheel. The other five modules sit where the XK engine used to roar. The charging socket has been concealed under the fuel flap, wired to an Elcon TC HK-J 6.6kW charger. It takes six hours to charge the battery packs from 0 to 100% on a domestic 32-amp plug.
With the top down, jumping in the E-Type is easy and the cabin is generous for a vehicle of this vintage. Yet you have to climb over the wide sill to get behind the lovely Moto-Lita steering wheel. The seats have been fully restored and re-foamed, but they kept their existing leather covers.
The fascia still looks completely stock, but upon examination, you can see some minor alterations. The Series 1-specific switches are still present, standing out of the alloy-covered dash. However, the analog gauges have been replaced by custom-made ones by Peterson EV, specializing in retrofit dials. The fuel gauge shows battery voltage, the water gauge measures the battery temperature, and the oil pressure dial shows the motor’s temperature. The speedometer is unchanged, but a power gauge has replaced the rev counter.
The first step to moving the car is to turn the original key. Of course, there’s no XK sound but silence. Then, I push the 3D-printed, factory-looking, ball-type gear lever forward and press the accelerator. Still, no sound, bar the tires’ rubber slightly squealing against the tidy workshop floor.
Full of Character
Time to set off to the countryside, leaving the Watsons’ farmyard-style estate. As we reach an open section of the road, it is time to check if what Paul call the “EV-Type” was worth all these efforts. Oh, boy, at the very first squeeze of the right pedal, I instantly get my answer. The torque delivery is immediate, providing a seemingly never-ending acceleration. Edward and Paul have nailed the fine-tuning of the motor management: While strong, this is not a brutal, untamable beast even when you take it on a field to push it sideways.
Why would you do that with a Jag’? Probably because you can, and you only live once. The funny thing is, as we’re having a blast, Paul is more worried about not leaving deep tracks in the field than he is about ruining the tires or the superb, polished paint finish.
Edward and Paul managed an almost 50:50 weight balance, maintaining the legendary E-Type’s excellent handling and keeping it easy to power slide in the dirt—not that we’d try it on the open road. This is a $250,000 car (this includes the original vehicle, full restoration, and EV conversion). Not the cheapest conversion we’ve ever covered, but definitely worth every penny. Paul thinks the E-type should still rev’ up to 115mph, it’s original max speed, but neither he nor I have tested it.
Upgrading the standard suspension setup front and back with top-shelf components achieved the impressive feat of retaining the feel of the original car—including when exiting corners with a heavy right foot! These include finely tuned brakes, suspension, and steering. Let’s dig into their specs
E-Types never shone in the braking department. In stock form, the original Dunlop brakes leave a lot to be desired. Paul opted for a setup he has been using on various applications such as XJ6s and Jensen Interceptors. It is composed of Fosseway Performance lightweight 4-piston Performance calipers and discs at the front and Series 2 calipers on original specs diff-mounted discs in the back. All are fed by stainless steel braided hose.
To slow the car securely on a dime with the strong regenerative breaking and powerful mechanical brakes, Paul selected a set of Blockley tubeless tires. At 205/70R15, they are slightly larger than the stock 185mm (7.25-inch) tires. They sport a lovely period-correct tread pattern while offering a high-performance reinforced sidewall allowing it to be W-rated (max speed: 168mph/270kph).
Why would you require such a high-speed rating? The niche tire manufacturer originally had to certify them for German customers requiring a higher speed rate to comply with the yearly German technical inspection. These tires are E stamped and DOT marked for use in the USA. Here they wrap superb 72-spoke MWS 6.5×15-inch polished rims. Their 2-inch offset provides a perfect stance to the Series 1—it is simply right!
At the rear, the Watsons kept the standard setup using four coilovers; however, with the AVO shocks setup, they now have adjustable ride height and dampening. At the front, they used uprated torsion bars and adjustable AVO shocks.
Replacing the 3.8L XK engine isn’t new; Jaguar owners have been swapping their original block with a 4.2L when they were not simply sticking a Ford V-8 under the extra long hood. However, times change, and the new performance king comes in the form of battery packs and compact electric motors. And we could not ask for more, even under the hood of an E-Type, no matter how much haters are going to hate. “Well done chaps!”
Ed Watson & Co
Year, Make, Model: 1962 Jaguar E-Type
Vehicle Name: ‘EV’-Type
Time to Build: 12 months, including full restoration and conversion
Motor Swap Performed by: Ed Watson & Co
Motor: Twin Hyper 9s
Motor & Transmission Mounts: Unaltered mounting points
Battery Pack: 10 Tesla modules
Charger: Elcon TC HK-J 6.6kW
Gears/Ratio: Direct-drive from motors. Rear axle changed to 4.55:1
Front Suspension: Uprated torsion bars and Adjustable AVO shocks
Rear Suspension: Jaguar IRS with fully adjustable twin AVO coilovers and uprated antiroll bar
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
Front Wheel Brand, Size: MWS tubeless 6.5×15-inch curly hub with a 2-inch offset
Front Tire Brand, Size: W rated Blockley 205/70R15
Front Brakes: Lightweight 4-piston Fosseway Performance E-Type brake upgrade
Rear Brakes: Series 2 calipers, one original spec diff-mounted discs
Color: Opalescent Silver Blue
Headlights: LED lights all round
Gauges: Custom-built gauges retaining the Smiths look by Peterson Electric Vehicles
Steering Wheel: Moto-Lita
Radio Head Unit: Original radio converted to FM with Bluetooth receiver and handsfree
Sponsors and Special Thanks:
Peterson Electric Vehicles
Edward Watson & Co