A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £90,000
Here at Silverstone Auctions, we are delighted to offer an incredible pair of matching-number, ‘time warp’ survivors of the earliest E-Types, cherished in a museum together for nearly 20 years. They are for sale separately and with the E-Type's Diamond Jubilee next year, this is an appropriate time for these significant cars to become available. From a respected private collector, both these cars are, remarkably, being offered at No Reserve.
In 1961, it was almost impossible to be able to actually obtain Jaguar’s ‘Supercar’, which was so closely related to their triple Le Mans-winning D-Type racer, but with legendary comfort and practicality, offering perhaps the ultimate road car.
The E-Type itself needs no introduction and it is no secret that company founder and chairman, William Lyons, desired to add a supremely elegant coupe to the original roadster in development and their combined launch literally stunned the world, at Geneva back in March 1961.
For both the enthusiast and the dedicated collector, the desire to obtain the 'first of the breed' in its most original condition will always be the 'Holy Grail'. The problem with actually achieving this goal is that those first E-Types were seriously flawed. The body structure was never built with any intention to make it last and indeed many were succumbing to rust issues when just a few years old. The majority of worldwide climates did not offer the kind of conditions in which an E-Type might thrive and Jaguar themselves often cited that, with such a low purchase cost, " It was far better to simply buy the new and improved model than repairing an older model with rust issues". Consequently, there was no real desire to preserve these first models, with their cramped flat floors and dangerously poor brakes for a car capable of nearly 150 mph, which resulted in many cars suffering accident damage, some on more than one occasion.
In 1961, you genuinely ‘had to be a name, and a name on a list’ to acquire one of these first delivery cars. As always, Jaguar’s primary market was the United States and this is where almost 90% of E-Type production ended up. Even there, to source an original, first-supply suffix chassis number coupe starting ‘885’ is incredibly difficult to find in original condition if at all – this confirming it to be a genuine 1961 built car, of which just 399 left-hand drive cars were completed, the ultimate vintage for any serious collector.
Enter Paul Webb, a passionate collector who has specialised in dealing with E-Types since the early 1970s and recalls that in those days, he would far prefer to buy a later and more expensive Series 2, 4.2 model to sell than an early car. But Paul’s passion is originality and many decades of ‘wintering’ in California allowed the opportunity to bring back several amazingly rust-free cars from there. He was ideally placed and in the perfect ‘hunting ground’ to try to find that ‘Holy Grail’ – a super early 1961 E-Type that retained every original panel fitted by Jaguar when delivered new, back in 1961. Paul could not believe his luck when, in the mid-1990s, he discovered 885249, just the 249th Fixed Head Coupe produced. Built on 30th November, supplied new to Abbey-Scherer Co, El Monte, California on 14th December 1961 and allegedly still with its first owner, having resided in the ultimate climate to amazingly preserve this Jaguar.
The owner was a private pilot and had covered just 49,000 miles from new in the car. It had been laid-up off the road since 1985 with that Californian dated registration plate still fitted, various Dyno-strips of instructions in the engine bay etc and even still retained the original brake master cylinders with their correct 'dated' tags. Paul immediately snapped up the car. Literally everything was correct; the early ‘small ellipse’ nose remained undamaged and the correct, separate spot-welded louvre panel bonnet, displayed the original factory-stamped numbers, almost never seen these days. This was ‘The Car’ – perhaps the ultimate surviving original 1961 E-Type Coupe in existence.
Paul later imported the car into the UK, to take pride of place within his own private museum, some twenty-three years ago, back in 1997. As is always the case, the cost of being in such kind, ‘bodywork preserving’ conditions in that the leather does not survive well and totally dries out in the heat. As it was so unsightly, Paul commissioned ex-Jaguar factory trimmers, respected experts Suffolk and Turley to retrim the seats in their original colour of Beige, creating a warm ambience in the closed cars, where dark colours are less suited. It then sat proudly on display for those lucky enough to see Paul’s amazing private Jaguar collection.
Our vendor first saw this car in the late '90s, but it took a further fourteen years before his repeated efforts to acquire the car, by then as a matching pair, were finally rewarded with success.
The car was recently recommissioned to fully running and driving condition after decades of museum preservation, but the braking system will need some attention before returning to the roads and transporting oneself back to that late autumn of 1961 when this dramatic coupé first turned heads and began its long life basking in the Calfornia sunshine.
This is an important Jaguar that's being offered at No Reserve. We welcome enquiries from seriously interested parties and are happy to arrange appointments to view.