One of the most important and historically significant road-going British cars in existence – the first-ever production right-hand drive Jaguar E-Type – will head to the auction block on September 1 at Hampton Court Palace in London, UK, as part of a sale organized by Gooding & Company.
Expected to fetch anywhere between $1.26 million (£1 million) and $1.76 million (£1.4 million), this Fixed Head Coupe – which is a fancy way of saying “hardtop” – finished in opalescent dark blue with a red leather interior has the chassis number 860001 and retains its original engine, as well as the original license plate combination, even though over the years different owners changed the plates at least once.
Powered by a 3.8-liter inline-six engine with three carburetors making 265 horsepower, this rather special E-Type sends power to the rear wheels only through a four-speed manual gearbox, while the Dunlop disk brakes – with an inboard setup at the rear – help the roughly 2,900-pound two-door stop more or less like a modern car, albeit without electronic nannies like ABS.
When new, Jaguar touted the E-Type’s ability to reach 60 mph from a standstill in under 7 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph, making it one of the fastest cars of its time. Moreover, the curvaceous coupe was built without a classic ladder frame chassis and featured rack-and-pinion steering and independent suspension all around, making it one of the most advanced vehicles of its era.
Finished on July 10, 1961, this particular E-Type has all the coveted features enthusiasts look for in an early example, including the flat floor, welded hood louvers, and external hood latches.
The current owner of the car, who purchased it in 1998, started a multi-year restoration project with the intent of returning the coupe to its original specification and appearance and managed to re-register it on its original plate number “1 VHP,” as revealed by official Jaguar factory records.
Considering the first left-hand drive coupe and the first left-hand drive and right-hand drive roadster no longer exist, according to the seller, this particular example carrying the chassis number 860001 is the only surviving six-cylinder production E-Type that can be described as the first of its kind.