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The Frankenstein 20B E-Type Is Alive

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The Frankenstein 20B E-Type Is Alive


It barely seems five minutes since I was stood in Coltech Classics workshop in Poole, Dorset looking down in amazement at Pipey McGraw’s multi-coloured, floor-scraping Jaguar E-Type build.

In its half-finished state it was an ambitious and ludicrous project; a space-framed and slammed Jaguar E-Type running a naturally aspirated Mazda 20B triple-rotor engine. That sentence alone is enough to make your average E-Type owner discard their leather driving gloves, throw down their tweed flat cap and pen a very strongly worded letter of disapproval to the E-Type owner’s club chairperson.

Pipey had told me he was aiming to have the car up and running for Retro Rides Gathering in August, just eight weeks later. I had hoped to catch up with him again before the engine went in, but life and timing conspired against us and it wasn’t to be.

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If you caught my event coverage from Retro Rides Gathering however, you’ll already know the good news – the car made it, and even ran up the hill.

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Finding Pipey and the 3type at Shelsley Walsh was simple enough – look for the biggest gathering of people and you’re there. As I arrived and made my way through the crowd, the first thing I noticed was that the car was all one colour.

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Pipey opted for an Irish Green shade for the Jaguar, but was keen to retain its weathered patina, rust holes and all. It’s an effect that would look half-done on most cars, but complete with a simple racing number roundel on each door it suits this hot rod perfectly.

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Since we last saw the car the widened front fenders have been grafted in place too, perfectly matching up to the Porsche 930 rears.

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Pipey ran out of funds and time to source an original replacement rear panel to remove the poorly frenched rear lights – a modification carried out by the previous owner – so they’re staying put for the time being. He did manage to find a suitable rear diffuser to fit, however.

It really shouldn’t work, but it just does.

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One key change you’ll notice at the front is the bonnet opening. Coltech Classics did away with the hinged front end, opting for a far more simple and efficient bonnet opening.

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You’ll also notice that the mock-up engine has gone, and there’s now a shiny new 20B sitting in its place. In the fair hands of rotary expert Brad O’Nians at Triple B Engineering in Northampton, the car now features a fully built bridge-ported triple rotor.

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Rather than retain the stock turbochargers, Triple B opted for a high-compression, high-revving naturally aspirated motor. The car arrived at Shelsley Walsh with the engine in place, but not plumbed in. Some 14 hours later, I was fortunate enough to show up just as the team sparked it to life after painstakingly grafting together a custom loom overnight.

After diagnosing some initial teething issues, the car was tuned with a basic run-in map, allowing Pipey to take it for a tentative first drive up the hill at Shelsley.

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When he approached the start line he looked very apprehensive – the engine was smoking like a chimney as it burnt off its newness. Pipey was limited to a maximum 3,000rpm, but when he returned from the top, he was beaming from ear-to-ear. All of the hours had been worth it.

The car sounds and look incredible. I don’t think there’s anything I’d change – its unique, it’s controversial and very daft.

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There’s still a fair way to go before Pipey considers the build done. With the wiring completed on site there’s still plenty of tidying to do, and the E-Type’s transmission tunnel is nothing but a frame at the minute. There are lots of little jobs and niggles that need addressing before it can hit the road too.

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It’s going to be well worth the wait, and I can’t wait to see, hear, take a ride in and shoot this thing once it’s finished.

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
Facebook: Jordan Butters Photography
jordan@speedhunters.com

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