Mike Maez, courtesy of Gooding & Company
From its electrifying March 1961 Geneva launch, Jaguar’s E-type redefined the term “sports car” at one stroke. Careful development brought improved comfort, and during 1964, the DOHC “XK” engine was enlarged to 4.2 liters and matched to a full-synchromesh gearbox for heightened drivability. Iconic styling cues including beautifully covered headlamps were retained, making these late-Series I E-types enduring objects of desire today. This outstanding four-owner, late-Series I roadster is an original left-hand-drive Personal Export Delivery example sold new to a San Francisco resident. Subsequently known owners included Harley Cluxton III of Scottsdale and Michael Kelly of Chicago, and the consignor acquired the original and unrestored vehicle from Mr. Kelly’s estate in 1998. From 2005 through 2007, a complete restoration by the noted restorers at The Creative Workshop of Dania Beach, FL, was performed using NOS parts as much as possible, with select upgrades that included improved brakes, shock absorbers and an aluminum radiator. Confirming its excellence, the E-type earned Best of Show at the November 2009 Festival of Speed event in Miami. Maintained post-restoration by The Creative Workshop, this fabulous E-type has accumulated only an additional 1,000 miles since work was completed. Complete with tools and hood cover, this fabulous E-type is stunning in its factory-specified livery and is the ideal choice to complete any mid-century collection.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1965 Jaguar XKE Series I 4.2 convertible
Years Produced:1964–67 (Series I 4.2 convertible cars)
Number Produced:9,548
Original List Price:$6,000
SCM Valuation:$70,000–$100,000
Tune Up Cost:$400
Chassis Number Location:Plate on top of right footwell box in engine bay
Engine Number Location:Right side of engine block atop oil filter mounting flange under Jaguar logo
Club Info:The E-type Club
Alternatives:1959–60 Jaguar XK 150S 3.8, 1961–63 AC Ace Bristol, 1963–65 Aston Martin DB5
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 13, sold for $220,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction on March 13, 2015.

The Series I Jaguar E-type (aka XKE) was produced from 1961 through mid-1967 — with the U.S. market targeted from the outset. Follow-on Series I.5 through II were somewhat emasculated from original purity by mandated emissions and safety requirements.

In 1966, a slightly bulbous 2+2 was offered with a back bench best suited to legless children. For Series III, overall dimensions increased, a turbine-like V12 replaced the coveted DOHC six, and an emphasis on touring comfort erased the racing heritage on which the E-type was based.

A strong E-type

Our subject 1965 roadster retained the D-type’s racing DNA, and it carried a generous catalog estimate in the $250k–$300k range.

Painted Opalescent Silver Gray (Glasurit # JAG-701), this example was stunning in its original hue, which parallels shades found in today’s automotive palette. Its limited ownership history, post-restoration awards, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust certificate and original tools offered strong credentials for bidders to consider.

Rabid purists may have objected to the “select upgrades” (brakes, shocks, radiator), although those are easily reversible.

In the end, as always at auctions, bidders assessed overall quality and verifications while pursuing ownership based on personal interest, taste, perceived value and available funds. The sale price indicates at least two bidders considered those variables with more than mild interest.

Two other E-types at Amelia Island

Gooding offered another E-type at Amelia Island, an early 1962 model (Lot 77, chassis 876333) in Carmen Red with black leather and cloth top. This one left the factory finished in Opalescent Gunmetal and red leather. It still had its original bonnet with welded louvers, flat floors and Moss 4-speed with non-synchromesh first gear spun by a clean 3.8-liter DOHC six.

SCM’s reporter on scene told me it was an attractive car but somehow had an older restoration vibe. He noted it was clean top to bottom, bonnet fit was slightly off, and the exhaust system looked patched together. As found on our profiled ’65 version, later production models had the louvers stamped in to save time and labor, footwells were dished to increase headroom by about an inch, and a Jaguar-built all-synchro 4-speed arrived in 1965 to replace the Moss unit. Gooding’s catalog estimate matched the one for our featured ’65 car, and the sale price with buyer’s premium was $192,500.

Also at Amelia Island, Bonhams had an exceptional 1963 E-type roadster on the docket (Lot 117, chassis 880117). After a meticulous bare-metal preparation, it was painted in its factory-ordered Cream (Glasurit # 2335A), and new Connolly black leather, black carpeting and a black cloth top were fitted. The refurbishment list was extensive, including a rebuilt engine, all-new weatherseals, stainless exhaust, brakes, tires and more. A California black-plate offering, it had a numbers-matching 3.8 liter engine, and it also came with a JDHT certificate, owner’s manual, jack and hammer. It sold for $128,700 including buyer’s premium.

The star of Geneva

The initial reveal of the E-type occurred in coupe form at the Geneva show in March 1961, where it became an international sensation. Marque lore attributes Enzo Ferrari as saying it was “the most beautiful car ever made,” and period auto scribe Henry N. Manney called it “the greatest crumpet collector known to man.”

The best investment-grade Series I cars are generally the first and the last — early 1961 roadsters with their 3.8-liter engines, welded bonnet louvers and flat floors, and early 1967 cars with 4.2-liter engines, all-synchro gearboxes and still equipped with three SU carbs and covered headlights.

After the feds stepped in to protect us from ourselves, late 1967 E-types (called Series I.5) lost their glass headlight covers, and 20 horsepower due to emissions requirements.

Our profiled 1965 version is almost identical to a ’67, including the all-synchro 4-speed gearbox and 4.2-liter six. From 1961 to mid-1967, some 31,693 Series I roadster, coupe and 2+2 E-types left the U.K., compared with about 54,000 Porsche models (356 and 911) produced in the same period.

Emerging from the back lot

For decades, E-type values languished in the bargain category — despite the car’s raving birth announcements.

Perhaps significant blame belongs to cynical auto pundits who joined a bandwagon that loudly claimed Jaguars were “notoriously unreliable.” That may have some truth in it, as Americans typically treat their rides as plug-in-and-forget appliances.

Simple, routine maintenance, such as topping off the oil in three SU carburetors (“You put OIL in the carburetors?”), or double-clutching an early Moss gearbox with non-synchro first gear may have seemed too “foreign” and a bother.

As an enthusiast who owned and maintained 1963 and 1967 versions for well over two decades, I was never stranded or saw “smoke leaking from wires” to certify “Lucas, the Prince of Darkness” jokes as fact — though they are amusing.

So what happened to stimulate a rapid rise in auction prices for these felines? Perhaps the 2011 50th anniversary of the E-type sparked interest. Or maybe it was the astounding numbers being paid for vintage cars built by a certain Italian marque labeled with yellow shields bearing a black prancing horse. I’m hoping auction attendees may have finally noticed E-types have monocoque construction, independent rear suspensions, 150-mph top speeds, and inboard brakes, while that now-unaffordable Italian brand of the same period still had straight axles and tube frames.

Comparing three Amelia Island sales

Our subject car, Gooding’s ’65 gray roadster, sold for $220,000 because, as is always the case, at least two bidders wanted to own it. It was attractive, documented, received awards and a carried a generous value estimate of $250k–$300k.

Held against the two comparable cars that also sold during Amelia Island, our subject car had the bigger 4.2-liter engine, an all-synchro gearbox, and more comfortable bucket seats compared with the clamshells used in 1961–63.

The red ’62 roadster (Lot 77) held the same Gooding value estimate, and sold for $192,500. The SCM Pocket Price Guide shows an upward market adjustment of $95k–$185k, and retains its Investment Grade of A. If this same bidder pool was alert when both cars crossed the block, it implies bidder variables were neutered.

Perhaps Lot 77 sold for $27,500 less than our subject E-type because it received a total color change from factory livery; also, “matching numbers” and a JDHT certificate were not mentioned — or maybe bidders just wanted to avoid a non-synchro gearbox. Let’s hope this buyer knows returning this one to as-delivered configuration and doing a little paperwork could result in significant appreciation!

The cream-colored car at Bonhams’ sale (Lot 117) traded signatures at $128,700, and we can assume this was a different bidding pool. Bonhams listed the car with an estimate of $125k–$150k.

The Bonhams car had known history from its delivery to New York, emigrated to California early enough to wear black plates, was refurbished to factory specs, had matching numbers and presented very well. Considering the sale price was well above our Price Guide’s high estimate of $95k, it’s a good bet this was a fine example.

All three of these E-types were of better-than-average quality, and each brought appropriate prices for condition. Ten or 15 years ago, you could buy presentable E-type roadsters in the teens and twenties, but no longer. These three cited examples respectively sold for $220,000, $192,500 and $128,700 — each market correct for condition.

Cost-effective alternatives

If these prices for E-type convertibles are a bit rich for your wallet, consider investing in an E-type coupe, as they still cost less. Remember, the coupe version brought those rave reviews when the E-type was first shown at Geneva in 1961. They’re quieter inside at speed, aerodynamically faster, more rigid, offer three times the baggage space, and remain dry and cozy in weather.

For a bit less, and with similar characteristics, Series II versions are also appreciating, and minty low-mileage Series IIIs with their smooth V12 engines are on the rise. Better hurry; bidders are circling. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)

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