1930s Coupes top £21.4m evening in Italy, but E Type Jag breaks world record

Richard Hudson-Evans

Richard Hudson-Evans

Proving to the collector car world that demand for the finest pre-WW2 stock remains strong, the superstar of RM Sotheby’s bi-annual drive past gig beside Lake Como during Concorso d’Eleganza Villa D’Este weekend was the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS ‘Goutte d’Eau’ with Teardrop Coupe coachwork by the automobile sculptors at Figoni et Falaschi. Considered by auto-art lovers to be one of the most attractive, aerodynamically inspired automotive designs of all times, the car sold under the gavel for a card-melting 3,360,000 euros (£2,940,000 with premium).

Body beautiful 1930s French coachbuilding is obviously still in demand eight decades later, as the 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Prototype, one of three, was right behind the results-topping Talbot-Lago, bringing 3,024,000 euros (£294,000), setting a record for a non-‘S’ model Type 57. 

But such ‘Concours Belles’ (or, more accurately, ‘Trailer Queens’) were, in my view, upstaged by an early 1961 Jaguar E Type Series 1 3.8 roadster selling for £582,400 euros (£509,600 including premium) to establish a new world record auction price for a non-competition model E Type. During the 1962 and 1963 seasons, the Portugese first owner drove his production E Type to four victories in Portugal and Angola, beating Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati equipped rivals in the process.

The more than half a million pounds paid for what has become very much a restored road car these days can be explained by two value-enhancing factors - period race history, plus this E Type’s eligibility for all the high profile pre-63 and pre-66 Historic GT retro-events. All factory-applied numbers were claimed to still match though and some original features from the car’s weekend competition past had been preserved during restoration.

Although 67% of Porsches driven past the RM Sotheby’s grandstand in the Villa Erba grounds sold during a £21.4m evening in Italy, including a 1993 911 Carrera RSR 3.8 with only 10k on the odo sold for 2,016,000 euros (£1,764,000), a record for any 911 Type 964, 40% of Ferraris did not. For six Prancing Horses had to be transported back to their stables without new jockeys.

By contrast, the previous weekend in the Royal Ascot Racecourse atrium, eight out of nine E Types were successfully re-homed by Historics and new owners were also found by Bonhams for five out of six E Types in their Spa Classic sale. While only a few days earlier, three out of four E Types in the Brightwells catalogue had sold at Leominster and eight out of nine E Types displayed in The Wing above the F1 pits at Silverstone Circuit were hammered away by Silverstone Auctions.

Apart from the Portugese-raced ‘flat-floor’ record breaker in Italy, only five of the E Types out-performed their pre-sale estimates however. A still quite original 1965 S1 4.2 roadster (for improvement as and when) sold for £112,500, £12,500 more than Silverstone’s guide price, and a dry barn stored 1964 S1 3.8 FHC went for £59,625, £14,625 more than had been forecast by the same house. Whereas by far the cheapest E Type Jag to buy, but not complete, a Heritage Certificated 1969 S2 4.2 manual left-hand drive resto project with matching numbers, but without doors and other stuff, was bravely landed for £6600 in Herefordshire.

At these last five market-testing sales therefore, there were buyers for 25 of the 28 E Types auctioned, their Porsche and Ferrari beating 89% sale rate currently the highest being achieved for any popularly consumed classic car model. Illustrative images for this week’s blog appear courtesy of RM Sotheby’s, to whom my thanks.

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