1:8 Scale 1963 Series 1 Jaguar E-Type FHC
Most car aficionados endorse Enzo Ferrari’s opinion about the E-Type, who stated at its introduction that “the most beautiful car in the world had been made”. And time has been a good testament to this as, almost 60 years after its’ introduction, it continues to capture our fantasies and steal our breath every time we see one! Luckily for us model builders and collectors, we finally have a high quality kit in the large scale we love. DeAgostini’s wonderful 1:8 scale kit is a fitting homage to this beautiful car, presented in British Racing Green with brown livery, and it certainly is a model every bit as breathtaking as the prototype!
The model is a detailed representation of a 1963 Series 1, 3.8 Litre, 6 Cylinder Fixed Head Coupé, one of the most revered and most documented cars in history. Therefore, finding prototype references on the internet of every nut and bolt is fairly easy, detecting areas of opportunity for improvement that vary widely depending on the taste and mastery of the builder.
In my case, after 45+ years of building boats and cars, and recently finishing a streak of 10+ Pochers for collectors worldwide, I decided to take the challenge to its ultimate level, as scratch building is my true source of enjoyment. The model was built over a 12-month period in the midst of the Covid pandemic, and modifications and additions were deeply researched before execution.
For starters, I decided that the paint quality of the kit as well as the color were not my cup of tea. It should be noted that the body, cast in a rare aluminum / white metal alloy, is a work of art. The feel, fit and overall presence are truly remarkable. So, to do it justice, I had it stripped to bare metal (thanks Marcos Adissi for the painter referral!!!), and painted professionally in a gorgeous Willow Green base with several clear coats to attain a glorious shine.
Next, I embarked on scratch building some 70% of the engine parts from aluminum, brass and acrylic, as some of the kit parts were fairly “toy like” to my taste. Engines in general are my favorite element of a model, and in the case of the E-Type the engine is simply a work of art and has a magnificent presence with the front-hinged bonnet opening completely, so enhancing it was definitely worthwhile.
Next came the interior, where I found the worst part of the kit…the horrendous seats! So, Marvin and I built wooden seats and then reproduced them in resin and upholstered them with MM leather, as well as the door panels. It should be noted that the dashboard and steering wheel supplied in the kit are fantastic and not improvable. Next, I rebuilt the drive train, separating the transmission housing from the clutch and attaching them with 20+ metal hex bolts and nuts, as well as building the suspension from scratch to substitute the plastic shock absorbers for properly functioning aluminum ones. It should be noted that most of the kit-supplied Phillips bolts are rather toy like and massively out of scale, so a sizeable effort was put into substituting them for adequate hex, flathead or allen bolts and nuts.
Finally, the wheels and tires that come with the kit are fantastic and very fun to build. No need for modification there, only careful building and assembly. Also, I found the chrome-plated plastic trim to be extremely well presented and nicely fitted, so I did not attempt to substitute it for brass. Although it could be done!
Overall, a fun build, a great opportunity to scratch-build dozens of parts and a model that elicits nice comments all the time. Now, about doing another one of the many 1:8 scale kits now offered by D’Agostini, Panini, Eaglemoss, etc., seems a bit repetitive to me.