WHEN Tata, India's biggest vehicle maker, paid US$2.5 billion (P109 billion) for Britain's iconic Jaguar brand in 2008, I suggested to the PR manager that the company might like to consider producing a limited edition of some of its classic cars like the E-type Jaguar.
He dismissed the idea saying that Jaguar was not in the business of building yesterday's cars, but was aiming at the very best of modern technology.
You can just imagine my delight, therefore, when Jaguar announced last month it will relaunch the most desirable version of its most iconic car, the E-type.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the company plans to make only six units and the price tag will almost certainly be more than US$1 million (P43.5 million) each.
The Jaguar E-type was unveiled at the 1961 Geneva Auto Show and was an instant and extraordinary success. It was faster than a Ferrari and was half the price. And its drool-inducing design helped sell more than 70,000 cars from 1961 to 1975.
In 2008, this famous car ranked first in Britain's Daily Telegraph's list of the world's "100 most beautiful cars" of all time.
If you look very carefully in Bacolod you might just see one example of this beautiful car. It's a maroon Jaguar E-type coupé. I sat in it once, but being a tad fat and old, I had to be lifted out as one sits virtually on the car's floor to drive it.
Inspired by motor racing, Jaguar made some limited-edition variants of the E-type. Its most desirable was the 'Lightweight E-types' which were successfully raced by the likes of Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Roy Salvadori.
Jaguar originally planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were built. Today, these are exceedingly rare and much sought-after by collectors commanding prices in the $3 million to $4million range.
Now Jaguar plans to build six brand new Lightweight E-types. They will be hand-built in-house by Jaguar's finest craftsmen as ‘perfect reproductions’ and made to the original specification.
The Lightweight was approximately 114kg lighter than a standard E-type, due to its all-aluminum body and engine block. And its lack of interior trim and exterior chrome work meant it was built for racing.
There is an expected high demand for the six recreations, with the first one to be unveiled later this year.
Jaguar fans across the world are excited by the news, though many enthusiasts are asking why Jaguar can't also relaunch the regular E-type.
"Why not build the original E-type with all the improvements and production values of today while, at the same time, under the lovely lines of the original body?" asked John Smith from the English Midlands.
I agree with John, but there are some major issues. With all the new, modern safety standards that would have to be incorporated, it's doubtful the car would look anything like the original.
A pity, but I suppose that's progress, or is it?