After Ferraris, Jaguar E-Types Continually Perform the Best at Auction
Like blue-chip stocks or early Picassos, certain cars remain constant in the face of fickle markets and changing collector tastes. And while Ferraris command the high six-, seven-, and even eight-figure market, Jaguar E-Types rule the more earthbound segment. Few cars of its period—from 1961 to 1975—are as gratifying to drive, and certainly none are more beautiful. For any devotee who enjoys the view from the driver’s seat—looking down the mile-long hood—or appreciates its curvaceous profile on a concours lawn, the E-Type remains a watershed design in the history of the sports car. As classic as a blue blazer, it will never go out of style.
The company we know today as Jaguar, and associate with a leaping feline, was founded in 1922 by Sir William Lyons and William Walmsley. Originally a maker of motorcycle sidecars, the brand eventually began building racing vehicles. It rose to fame thanks to its postwar motorsports success with cars such as the C-Type—a competition version of its popular XK120 that won Le Mans its first time out in 1951 and also in 1953—followed by the colossally successful D-Type, with its signature vertical tail fin, which took victories at Le Mans in 1955, 1956, and 1957.
The Jaguar that shook the world, however, was the XK120’s eventual successor, the XK-E—also known as the E-Type. Designed by Jaguar engineer Malcolm Sayer and based on lessons learned with the D-Type, the E-Type was introduced at the Geneva Salon in March 1961 and was an immediate sensation. Priced at less than $6,000, it embodied Lyons’s credo “Value for money,” offering the performance and beauty of exotics that cost two or three times as much.
Lyons could not have predicted the cultural impact or collectibility of Jaguar’s sports cars, specifically the E-Type. On its release in 1961, none other than Enzo Ferrari praised the E-Type as “the most beautiful car ever made.” Road & Track journalist Henry N. Manney III memorably christened it “the greatest crumpet-catcher known to man.” And today, it can be found in the permanent collections of iconic automotive designs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
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