A 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I Roadster set an auction sale record for a production version of this vehicle by selling for the equivalent of $1.139 million (911,250 pounds) at Gooding & Company's 2023 London Auction. The car was the first E-Type sold and the fourth right-hand-drive roadster variant built.
This E-Type Roadster has other important ties to Jaguar. The first owner was Frank England who ran the brand's sports car racing program in the 1950s and later became the automaker's CEO.
Gallery: 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I 3.8-Liter Roadster
Jaguar built two road-going E-Type prototypes that the company used for internal testing. England was the company's assistant managing director at the time, and he allocated the next production-spec right-hand-drive Roadster to himself. This made the car the first one that Jag sold to a customer. England also loaned out his E-Type to the press and for publicity events.
After changing hands a few times, this E-Type sat disassembled from 1975 to 2002. Classic Motor Cars Ltd. then did a multi-year restoration, which included creating a new hood to the original specifications. It still has the original numbers-matching engine. The Jag won the Feline Finesse Award at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The early E-Type uses a 3.8-liter inline-six engine with three SU carburetors that makes 265 horsepower. It has a four-speed manual gearbox. The four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension were high-tech features by 1961 standards.
Gooding & Company also attempted to sell the first right-hand-drive production-spec E-Type at the auction in London. However, it didn't find a buyer. That car was a fixed head coupe hardtop and had its original engine.
There's a market for converting the E-Type into an electric vehicle. In the United Kingdom, the company Electrogenic offers a package consisting of a 160-hp motor and a 43-kilowatt-hour battery that provides a range of around 150 miles. ECD Automotive Design in the United States offers a similar upgrade but uses a Tesla-sourced powertrain providing 450 hp and 200 miles of driving distance.