The Jaguar E-Type is a great classic car, but has never obtained the status of the high end exotics, or commanded six-figure prices on the market. Until 2013. Last August, at the Gooding and Company’s Pebble Beach Auction, a 1965 E-Type Series I convertible sold for over a quarter million dollars. This raised the bar, and left Jag owners wondering what a British cat in flawless condition would sell for. They did not have to wait long to find out.
On November 21, 2013 at RM Auctions’ Art and the Automobile in New York, a car known on the show circuit as “Black Beauty” sold for $467,500. The 1966 4.2 liter Series I (that’s British-speak for first generation) had been bought new, registered to only one owner during its life, and driven lightly. The nearly 50 year old car had just 71,000 miles on its numbers matching engine, and its original paint and interior. It was restored using “new, old stock” parts, and finished in immaculate black on black. This E-Type is close to what the original Jaguar engineers were shooting for, and is probably the closest example to perfect.
The E-Type does have a few drawbacks for collectors and investors. They sold in relatively high numbers back then, and went into the hands of enthusiasts that enjoyed racking up miles. Add the infamous 1960s British build quality, led to most cars needing repair work to fix the oil leaks, intermittent headlights, and sporadic efficiency of the alternator. This is why you can find E-Type projects for under $10,000 on eBay, and very nice drivers going for around $30,000. With record setting aution numbers last year, expect even those low eBay numbers to rise.
In 2012, the AMC series Mad Men featured a 1960s Jaguar dealership, complete with an E-Type. This probably did not hurt the car’s hype (and prices), as leading man Don Draper seemed to enjoy driving “the most beautiful car in the world.” Looking back at that episode, the Jag does look a lot like a successful mechanical interpretation of Joan Holloway’s physique.
“Oh, this car, this thing, gentlemen…what price would we pay?” said Draper, played by Jon Hamm. “What behavior would we forgive? If they weren’t pretty, if they weren’t temperamental, if they weren’t beyond our reach and a little out of our control, would we love them like we do?”
Probably not, although it helps that Black Beauty is big on pretty, less on temperamental.