The Mail on Sunday Review Review
by Chris Evans on 8th October 2016
Where Eagle dares: Who'd dream up a car this breathtaking?
‘Eagle want to know if you’d be interested in driving their new E-Type Spyder GT,’ whispered the hushed tones of a conspiratorial Event voice down the line.
Oh, go on then. If I have to.
Now the thing about Eagle is that they only produce something new when a client is brave enough to put their money where their lust is. Let’s call this latest such someone Mr X. Mr X, having already taken quite a shine to Eagle’s drop-dead gorgeous, roofless Speedster, had a request, ‘I quite fancy one of those,’ he said. ‘But I do want a roof and I do quite like the original E-Type drop-heads.’
‘Not a problem,’ said Eagle. ‘Give us two years and £850k and your wish is our command.’ Two years down the line, here we are and here it is. The result is a creation so beautiful and perfectly proportioned I could look at it for the rest of my life.
It is a car of two halves, the futuristic and smoothed-down front half of a Series 1 married to the rear half of an audacious, retro-lightweight E-Type at the back. But that’s only the headlines. There are nips and tucks and subtle flares all over the shop. There are bigger, thicker, gleaming new wire wheels with huge (maybe too huge) spinners at their centres filling the wheel arches. There’s lots of clever shaving and shaping to help save weight – aluminium replacing steel wherever possible (the engine block, radiator and header tank for a start).
Everything that can be recessed has been – look at those front indicators and the rear number plate. And then take another look at the modified windscreen repositioned at a far more gentle, aerodynamic and attractive shallow angle.
But back to that outrageous bum, the real showstopper of the entire piece for me, a heavenly mix of muscle and miaow. And so to driving this eighth wonder of the world. The truth is I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to. Aurally its performance couldn’t live up to its killer catwalk looks – supermodels do not do scintillating conversation, we know that.
Except, ta-da! This silver-blue bullet does. All 4.7 litres of it. Those six popping and banging (perfectly balanced and orgasmically responsive) carburettor-fed chambers produce 330hp of gloriously obedient and eminently usable grunt. The gearbox is tight and precise, with the ideal length of throw from first through to fifth. The steering wheel, free from any namby-pamby power-steering, is unnaturally light, obedient and effective. People who love old Jags usually cannot abide old Ferraris, claiming they handle like a bone-rattling heap of overblown, self-regarding junk.
And vice-versa when it comes to Ferrari fans on Jags, who find them so dull and sedate by comparison they fear falling asleep before they even make it out of the drive.
I sit somewhere between the two, which is another reason Eagle should be applauded. You can either rev the nuts off this superstar and get busy with the clutch or select a longer, chill-out gear and feel the torque ebb and flow as and when you need it, feathering the right foot only.
Overall the ride is pure joy, firm but not uncomfortable, a tough trick to pull off, accomplished via the amazing and legendary Swedish Ohlins dampers. The brakes are the only slight glitch – bigger and therefore heavier than they need to be, their presence down to a special request from the owner (he likes how they look through the wheels – fair enough).
Eagle also confessed the exhaust is stainless steel, whereas it could have been titanium if the completion date had been delayed by a month or so. Is this a big deal? It’s a sort of medium deal, as both of the above could save up to another 25kg, bringing the car’s overall weight down ever closer to that magical, sub-1,000kg, which would be an outstanding achievement. So back to that eye-watering price of £850k for what is currently the only E-Type Spyder GT on the planet. Whether it’s worth that much money I have no idea.
Whether Mr X could sell it on and get more than he paid, I couldn’t even begin to guess. The truth is, I hope he never has to. Without his commitment and insane love for cars, this fantastic work of art would simply never have existed.
And I in turn would never have got to spend a sunny Tuesday in Berkshire grinning from ear to ear, wondering how I could get Paul from Eagle to come back on Friday instead of taking it back to East Sussex after a couple of hours. Yum, yum and then some.
Eagle are the best of the best at what they do and this year marks their 20th year in business. Well, here’s to the next 20 and the 20 after that.* As long as they keep the Mr Xs of this world happy, it is not ours to reason Y.
*actually we were established in 1984, so as of this year we have been in business 32 years.