First production Jaguar E-Type coupé tipped to sell for £1.4M

First production Jaguar E-Type coupé tipped to sell for £1.4M after the owner bought it for just £1. The first right-hand drive production Jaguar E-Type coupé is forecast to fetch as much as £1.4million at auction – after the current owner bought it for just £1 in 1998.

The seller paid just a nominal sum for the 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I 3.8-Litre Fixed Head Coupé, when he bought it from Jaguar author and historian Philip Porter.

He is now selling the car alongside another rare early convertible model – the first production E-Type to be sold – at Gooding & Co’s London auction on 1 September in what is described as a sale of ‘two of the UK’s automotive Crown Jewels’.

The coupé wears the numberplate 1 VHP and has been restored to concours standard. Its anonymous North Wales seller said: ‘As well as being the first right-hand drive outside bonnet coupé to be built, this Jaguar is the only surviving chassis number one E-Type of its kind (chassis 860001).

‘It cost me £1 in 2000 but l had to restore it together with 9600 HP as part of the deal, 9600 HP being the oldest E-Type in existence.’

The owner, who has built up a world-class car collection, added: ‘Goodness knows how many famous people have sat in 1 VHP as it was initially used as demonstrator model in London for six months. 

‘It’s beautiful, drives brilliantly and it’s the first. It can’t get any better than that. There is only one number one.’

A spokesperson for auctioneers Gooding & Company said: ‘This historically important Jaguar was finished on July 10, 1961 in opalescent dark blue with a red leather interior.

‘Not one to restore cars to become museum pieces, the owner took part in Norman Dewis (Jaguar test driver from 1952-85) commemorative runs, 17-hour drives from Coventry to Geneva in 2011 and 2021.

First production Jaguar E-Type coupé tipped to sell for £1.4M, Only Motors

‘The car also features in a limited-edition book commissioned by Jaguar to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the E-Type.’

The car enthusiast is also parting with his 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 3.8-litre Roadster, chassis 850004 – which the auction notes say is the first production E-Type ever sold. It is expected to sell for £1.2million.

Its first owner was Frank Raymond Wilton ‘Lofty’ England, Jaguar’s legendary racing team manager.

Lofty, a man who oversaw five Le Mans victories, allocated the earliest E-Types to their first owners and chose one for himself. 

A spokesperson for Gooding & Company said: ‘The car, famously registered as 1600 RW, was the very first production E-Type to be sold. Lofty drove 850004 as his personal car and loaned it on several occasions for press coverage and publicity events.

‘It appeared in numerous articles in 1961 and became a familiar sight in racing paddocks.’

Legendary Formula 1 champion Graham Hill was photographed sitting on the car in April 1961 wearing his laurels after taking first place at a race meeting.

The Jaguar E-Type made its racing debut that day and Hill won the Oulton Park Trophy, watched by 45,000 race-goers at the Cheshire circuit.

The owner said: ‘Driving an E-Type is always good fun but to be able to own two incredibly important cars just amplifies that pleasure.

‘Over three decades I built up arguably one of the best Jaguar collections in the world.

‘It has been a privilege to own them and I hope they continue to give as much pleasure to the new owners as they have to me and my family over the last 20 years.’

Gooding & Company auctioneer Charlie Ross said: ‘Enzo Ferrari has been quoted as saying the Jaguar E-type is ‘the most beautiful car in the world’.

‘This pair started the obsession and the auction really does afford an opportunity for someone to purchase two of the UK’s automotive Crown Jewels.’

The Gooding & Co London sale takes place on September 1.

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