Why Helm Motorcars’ E-type Series 1 Roadster is Our Restomod of The Moment
Newsflash: it turns out you can improve upon perfection.
Enzo Ferrari once called the Series 1 Jaguar E-type, designed by former aeronautics engineer Malcolm Sayer, “The most beautiful car ever made.” But, as seductive as its curves and contours were—and remain, 61 years after the first ever model was driven by Jaguar executive Bob Berry from Coventry to Geneva—the E-type was, some automotive buffs feel, a flawed beast.
“Despite the beauty of its lines, the original E-type was beset with unreliable electronics, a troublesome carburettor and a less than luxurious black plastic interior,” according to Helm Motorcars, which has just revealed its Jaguar E-Type Roadster restomod, having unveiled a coupe version back in 2021. “In introducing our first Roadster, we have reimagined a classic, fit for today’s standards.”
LCD displays, parking sensor technology, inertia seatbelts, soft-close doors and a heated windshield are all part of the package when it comes to a vehicle which took over 6,000 man hours to come to fruition (its predecessor took around 3,800). Under the bonnet, a 3.8-litre engine delivers 300 horsepower.
But it’s the experience within that steel-reinforced monocoque (which uses at least 30 percent of the original) that really elevates Helm’s iteration of the Roadster into the loftier realms of refined motoring. Bill Amberg—whose eponymous studio designed the leather interiors—was drawn to the project by the opportunity to apply sensitivity and flair to modernising classic design.
“Usually with a renovation project, you’re dealing with a flashy upgrade or else a faithful recreation of what it looked like when it first came out on the factory floor,’ he says. “The idea was to create an interior for how the E-type could have been if the same attention was paid to the inside detailing, in order to match the iconic shape of the exterior. We’re trying to produce something that reflects the spirit of the car.”
The design tenets of classic English racing characterise the leatherwork, with vegetable-tanned black suede and leathers previously used only in luxury residential interiors contrasting subtly and elegantly. The Roadster also comes complete with its own pair of purpose-built Bill Amberg-designed weekend bags, made from soft, lightweight black Italian calf-skin with handmade leather straps: “Casual, spur-of-the-moment travel bags”, as Amberg himself puts it.