How much would you pay to have the first of something? For some allocation-holders of the latest machines, that number is big, but it’s likely not as big as the price tag attached to this 62-year-old Jaguar. This is the first ever production-spec right-hand-drive Jaguar E-Type Fixed Head Coupe, it’s coming up for auction and it’s expected to fetch north of $1.2 million.
There are people who don’t believe the E-Type is pretty, but they’re wrong. The Museum of Modern Art wouldn’t have an E-Type if it weren’t pretty. What’s more, the E-Type was remarkably high-tech for the early 1960s. It was front-mid engined, sported four-wheel disc brakes, featured unitary construction, and received four-wheel independent suspension. When it was new, it offered Ferrari 250 GT-rivaling performance for half the money, an incredible feat for a relatively small British carmaker. The E-Type changed the sports car landscape forever, and the values of good ones reflect that. This E-Type is more than just a good one, it’s an incredibly important one.
On July 10, 1961, this particular E-Type rolled off the line in Coventry bearing the serial number 860001 — the first production-spec right-hand-drive E-Type coupe ever made. If that sounds a bit late, just remember that the coupe variant had a delayed introduction after the roadster went on sale in March of 1961, a side effect of being a relatively late addition to the E-Type development program. Mind you, don’t think that development stood still once the car went on sale — early Series I E-Types had some early-installment weirdness, namely external hood latches that needed a special tool to open, and flat floors on cars built before June 1962. A mere four right-hand-drive coupes have the external hood latches, a bit of weird pub trivia for the mechanically-deranged.
After faithfully serving as a dealer demonstrator for several months, this E-Type made its way into the hands of its anonymous first owner — not anonymous due to privacy concerns, but anonymous because nobody bothered to keep track, possibly because once second owner David Hamer bought it sometime before 1974, most people would’ve just considered this E-Type another used car. By 1977, the E-Type had changed hands twice again, ending up in the hands of Jaguar historian Philip Porter who recognized the significance of this particular example.
The current owner acquired this E-Type in 1998, putting it through a multi-year concours-grade restoration in its original opalescent dark blue over red around the turn of the new millennium. However, don’t take that to mean the car was locked away in a garage, only to see the light of day for the rare static event. The current owner drove the absolute hell out of this car, with two Coventry to Geneva sprints commemorating Norman Dewis rushing a prototype to the Geneva show overnight and an Octane magazine feature involving a 146.49 mph run under its belt.
Gooding & Company estimates that the first production-spec right-hand-drive E-Type coupe could fetch between £1M and £1.4M, or between $1,258,995 and $1,762,593 at the time of writing. That’s an awful lot of money, but then again, this is an awfully important slice of history. Plus, all the other first six-cylinder cars — the first left-hand-drive coupe, the first left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive roadsters — don’t exist anymore, so this machine is truly one of a kind.
(Photo credits: Gooding & Company)
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