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Lot 079: Jaguar E-Type S1 3.8 Roadster

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (13 July 2011)

When even the great Enzo Ferrari is moved to declare your rival product the most beautiful car in the world you know you've got something pretty special. And although we have now had 50 years to get used to it, there is still something so pure about the shape of the original E-Type Jaguar that its power to stop the world in its tracks remains undiminished. With a top speed of 150mph and at least as good as any contemporary Aston or Ferrari, it's only because Jaguar made so many of them that non-hedge fund managers like you and I can realistically think of owning one today  although prices have been on a steady upwards march for several years now.

The best looking and most desirable of all the E-Type variants is the Series 1 Roadster, as here. Like all the earliest cars it is fitted with the legendary 3.8-litre XK straight-six which provides a much sportier feel than the later, softer 4.2-litre engine. Quoted as developing some 265bhp and 260lb/ft of torque in standard tune, it is mated to a four-speed Moss gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios.

The interior of the earliest cars is also the most sporting and attractive of all the E-Type range with lightweight bucket seats and that wonderful aluminium cockpit trim which could have come straight from a WW2 fighter. Quite apart from their sheer beauty, these are genuinely quick cars even by today's standards, yet remain easy to live with and maintain (unlike Italian exotica) with all parts readily available and a whole army of specialists to service them. Right-hand drive 3.8 Roadsters are also surprisingly rare, with just 943 examples made in total between March 1961 and August 1964 (chassis numbers 850001  850943).

This particular car is number 244 of the run and being such an early example is one of the original 'flat floor' models. As its accompanying Heritage Certificate confirms, it was built in October 1961 and was supplied to its first owner by Henlys of London on 14th November 1961 in Gunmetal with a dark blue interior.

Not much is known of the early history of the car but documents on file show that it was fully restored between 1982 and 1984 by a previous owner. Since then it has had just three owners, the current vendor acquiring it about two years ago in a dismantled state from a garage who had owned it since 2004. A professional coachbuilder, the current owner set about reassembling the car and rebuilding it as necessary.

The extent of the work carried out to date is too extensive to list in full but highlights include: new floorpans, bonnet and sills; new windscreen; new wiring loom; new suspension; new brake discs and calipers plus servo upgrade; new stainless steel exhaust; new red leather interior, hood and hood bag by BAS of Cwmbran; new brightwork and chrome wire wheels; respray in the original Gunmetal.

The original Moss gearbox was examined and found to be in good order and a new clutch fitted, while the original engine (no. R2201-9) was dispatched to Anderson Racing Engines of Bath for a meticulous rebuild including six new Hepolite pistons and a balanced crank which cost some �9,500 and results in a unit that is thought to be somewhat more powerful than standard. During the course of the rebuild it was discovered that the original head was cracked so a replacement item was fitted, although the original head is supplied with the car.

Needless to say the car is now in superb condition throughout with excellent panel fit and is said to drive beautifully with a notably quiet gearbox and a good turn of speed. Since it was returned to the road in May this year it had only covered about 50 miles when we went to view it, but the vendor intends to put another few hundred miles under the wheels before the auction in order to iron out any teething troubles that may arise.

Altogether a superb matching numbers example of a rare 'flat floor' Roadster that is sure to be of interest both to the serious Jaguar collector and to the keen driver who will appreciate that meticulously rebuilt engine.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number079
Estimate£65000-£75000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£53000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1961
Condition rating0
Registration numberMRA 363
Mileage-
Chassis number850244
Engine numberR2201-9
Engine capacity (cc)3781
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2