Art of the Automobile

21 November 2013

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Lot 138

1966 Jaguar E-Type Series I 4.2-Litre Roadster

  • Chassis no. 1E11911
  • Engine no. 7E6555-9
  • Gearbox no. EJ5705
  • Body no. 4E3351

Sold for $467,500

  • As per Enzo Ferrari, “The most beautiful car ever made”
  • One of the finest examples extant
  • Three-time 100-point JCNA National Champion
  • Matching numbers

“The body’s subtle, swelling curves and depressions reflect carefully calculated geometries based on the ellipse. The most prominent feature—the long, projecting hood—is modeled with a distinctive ‘power bulge’ that runs down the hood’s center to accommodate the powerful engine. Louvered air-intake panels penetrate the otherwise smooth surface. The hood curves down to a grille-less nose that sucks in air to cool the engine. The gently swelling fenders terminate in glass cowl headlights that are seamlessly encapsulated into the body. The view of the car’s contours is as compelling to the driver as to the passerby.”

These are the words that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City uses to describe one of its larger acquisitions. The sculpture is described as having a “steel body: 47" x 64½" x 14? 7½".” It is a Jaguar E-Type Roadster that has been credited to Sir William Lyons, Malcolm Sayer, and William M. Heynes. No one can deny that their magnum opus, this car, has not sunk as indelibly as the most famous of paintings into the world’s consciousness. The E-Type is, quite simply, one of the most famous and instantly recognizable mechanical shapes ever created.

The design of the car was birthed from the D-Type, a full-out racing car with sensuously curved aerodynamic styling that had achieved tremendous success in international competition. As it required a new, competitive production model, Jaguar’s management set about developing the design into a car that was suitable for road use. The famous, feline curves were developed by Sayer, a trained aerodynamicist, using wind tunnel testing and aircraft principles. They were constructed around a lightweight monocoque that had a tubular sub-frame to carry the engine, front suspension and steering, and an independent rear axle.

The E-Type debuted in Geneva in 1961, and it became a smashing success, because it offered so much for relatively little. It was no more expensive than most other sports cars, but it was more beautiful than the priciest offerings from other manufacturers, and it had 150-mph performance with outstanding road manners. While the design would evolve over its 13 years of production, it never ceased being as beautiful as when it was first created.

The Roadster offered here is documented by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust as having been delivered new through Jaguar Cars, of New York, to Oceana Aerial Surveys, of San Marino, California, on December 23, 1965—Merry Christmas, indeed! This later Series I model retains the desirable covered headlamps, which are appreciated by both MoMA’s curators and Jaguar enthusiasts, and incorporates the desirable 4.2-liter engine, with its improved power and torque resulting in a perfect storm of beauty and brawn, which is mated to a four-speed transmission.

The famously car-friendly California climate can be credited to the excellent state of preservation in which this Jaguar spent its first four-and-a-half decades, in the care of its original owner’s family. Following its sale by the family, the E-Type was brought to the Jaguar specialists at Classic Showcase. When it arrived, it was still wearing its original interior and paint, and it was an excellent “survivor,” with 71,000 actual miles. The originality of the car provided a perfect candidate for a comprehensive rotisserie restoration to modern show standards.

The body (number 4E3351) was stripped to the bare metal, mounted on a rotisserie, and properly metal-finished with lead to ensure smooth, straight panels. All body parts and chrome were then test-fitted to the body, to ensure a proper fit, before the body was correctly painted and refinished in an elegant Black, with an amazingly deep shine and finish. The brightwork was all triple-plated to the highest of concours standards, for an amazing shine. Chrome wire wheels add a glow about the wheel arches.

The interior was fitted with new, custom-tailored materials, including new seats, carpet, door panels, and dashboard covering. The top bows were fully restored before being fitted with a new black convertible top that was custom-sewn and fitted to original specifications. Even the correct and difficult to duplicate “shot bag,” a narrow tube of lead shot that prevents the top from billowing in the wind, was sewn and installed to ensure a completely accurate restoration. All dashboard instruments, the switchgear, and knobs were properly restored, including the Blaupunkt radio.

The original, matching-numbers 4.2-liter engine (number 7E6555-9, mated to gearbox number EJ5705) was rebuilt to factory specifications by being machined and calibrated with new pistons, an oil pump, a timing chain, bearings, valves, guides, and seals. The head and carburetors were fully rebuilt, and the driveshaft was properly balanced. As with all aspects of this restoration, New Old Stock parts were used extensively, whenever possible.

Notably, “Black Beauty” was the name her restorers gave her, and it is how this amazing E-Type has become known on the concours circuit. In 2011, the car was shown in three separate Jaguar Club of North America-sanctioned events, achieving a 100-point score every time, and it was recognized as a JCNA National Champion. It was also a First in Class winner at the Dana Point Concours and the Desert Classic. Most prominently, it was invited by Jaguar to be part of its corporate display on Peter Hay Hill at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was the E-Type selected to share space with a C-Type, D-Type, and the new F-Type—elite company, indeed.

Few E-Types have ever been restored to this standard, and perhaps none have been so all-conquering on the field, or so accepted by the factory as a standard of perfection. Black Beauty is not just another E-Type; it is a world-class Jaguar with attention to detail that is as striking as its very shape.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more