Tracking an E-type through auction

Tracking an E-type through auction


With the collector car market often operating under a veil of mystery, and with confidentiality often of paramount importance, when monitored carefully auctions can offer a rare chance to follow the offering of a car to the market.

Such was the case with Lot Number 135 at Bonhams Olympia auction in early December. The 1961 Jaguar E-type Series 1 3.8 ‘Flat Floor’ Roadster was on the face of it a handsome machine, and demand for flat floor examples remains strong.

Crunching the numbers, as any auction house would have done, the car on paper represents a good sales opportunity – just under 100 E-types have been presented at auction in 2018 with a sell through rate of 78%, with 3.8 models in particular raising that number to 80%. Looking at final hammer price, the average bottom end price achieved for a Series 1 3.8 Roadster sits at £158,000.

So, with this example estimated at £130,000-£160,000, what caused it to be subject of a ‘No Sale’, with the hammer falling at only £100,000?

For those in the know, there were some red flags with this example as auction catalogues landed on doorsteps four weeks prior to auction. As with any car, seeing it in the metal would determine just how crimson these flags are.

Indeed, with closer inspection under the bright lights and all-seeing eyes of the assembled automotive enthusiasts in the Olympia, the estimate suddenly begins to make sense.

A pop of the bonnet shows a neglected engine bay. Underneath the car just seems tired, despite the shiny paint clinging to the curves of the bodywork. Overall, the car doesn’t possess a certain crispness. Crucially though, the chassis plate displays a distinct lack of lettering in one section: ‘GEAR BOX No’.

Unsurprisingly, hands are in pockets, on phones and shaking those of friends rather than holding up paddles when the car crosses the block. The market just won’t tolerate cars like this right now – only the best will do.

Three hours later the car is sold for £74,166 including premium, a distance from the £130,000 lower estimate and a prime example of why specialists are specialists and average cars remain on the market rather than on the driveway of a perspective buyer.

Having displayed Chassis 54 at Concours this year, following a painstaking restoration to exacting original specification by ourselves for our client, we can confirm when it comes to a 3.8, people expect greatness – Concours judge or not. 


This website uses cookies to provide you with the best user experience. By using E-Type UK, you accept our use of cookies