Eagle Spyder GT reviewed

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The Eagle Spyder GT

The super-fast, lightweight Eagle Spyder GT is the fourth in a range of dream cars inspired by the classic Jaguar E-Type – and it is a thing of sheer beauty, writes Tiff Needell

At a time when the Beatles were still an unknown band performing in a cavern and young girls were fainting at the feet of Elvis Presley as he performed Surrender, the car world was transformed forever by the 1961 launch of the Jaguar E-Type.

The E-Type was the successor to the XK120, 140 and 150 sportscars that had shaped the company’s rise in fortunes throughout the 1950s.

And it wasn’t just Malcolm Sayer’s sensual styling that would make the marque such an iconic design because the construction under that flowing shape was also way ahead of the opposition.

It used the D-Type’s revolutionary monocoque construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and independent suspension to make it handle better too.

The E-Type may well be on everyone’s list of top 10 cars and if it is your dream to own one, you will need to pay a little more than the £2,097 you could have snapped one up for in 1961.

With production running until 1975 there’s a long range of models to choose from with three series and as many engines, including a 5.3-litre V12.

While a few are advertised for as little as £30,000, prices for sought-after models soon head into six figures and climb over the quarter-million-pound mark for fully restored cars, which is where Eagle E-Types come into the story.

Henry Pearman has had a life-long passion for these cars and set up Eagle in 1984 to care for and restore these remarkable machines at his East Sussex base.

Head to the company’s website and you may be tempted by the four stylish creations designed as a homage to the famous marque, including the new Eagle Spyder GT – a speedster with a roof to put up.

The generous owner of the only one made so far allowed me half a day to drive his opalescent silver-blue creation – thankfully complete with a dark blue hood, because it did rain on my parade. But whatever the weather, this is a car that’s as exciting to drive as it is to view.

Fitted with a 4.7-litre aluminium block development of the famous 3.8 and 4.2 straight six engines, this lightweight model has 335bhp to play with and, thanks to its aluminium monocoque, cased gearbox and bodywork, it weighs only just a fraction over a tonne.

With a smooth manual gearbox, the Eagle Spyder GT is not only beautiful to look at, it’s stunning to drive too. It typifies everything that the modern world eschews, leaving you in total control and, with modern suspension, handles better than any E-Type has before.

As my test drive ended the rain abated and I was able to drop the roof and hear more clearly the joyous sound that emits from the twin exhausts behind.

Running the famous SU carburettors, the car pops and bangs on the over-run as excess fuel is burned off, then roars its approval when your right foot returns to the throttle. Every gear change is a delight, every mile what real driving is all about. I think I need to buy some Lottery tickets!

eaglegb.com

Eagle Spyder GT

Top speed 171mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds

Engine 4.7 litre petrol generating 335bhp
Gearbox five-speed manual

Economy Who cares!
Price £834,000

Performance 8/10
Handling 8/10

Economy 5/10
Comfort 8/10

Quality 10/10
Desirability 10/10

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About author

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell is a former Grand Prix driver who spent most of his professional career racing in the World Sportscar Championship including 14 Le Mans 24 Hour races where he had a best result of third in 1990. He is however perhaps better known as a former presenter of Top Gear throughout the nineties and then helped to create ‘Fifth Gear’ which enters its 14th year in 2015. Tiff recently wrote his autobiography Tiff Gear, is Director magazine’s columnist, races whenever the opportunity arises and has now rejoined Clarkson, co-presenting at Top Gear Live.

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