A1963 Jaguar E-type Lightweight Competition became both the most valuable E-type and most valuable post-1960 Jaguar to ever sell at auction when it fetched $7.37 million (£5.86 million).
The Australian GT Championship-winning car is said to be one of the most original of the 12 Lightweights that Jaguar produced in the early Sixties, which was sold to a telephone bidder during Bonhams’ annual sale of collectors’ cars in Scottsdale, Arizona last week.
It has only had three owners from new and has only covered 4,000 miles in that time.
The auction record-breaking car is the 10th of only 12 E-type Lightweights built, despite an original target of 18 cars. Jaguar recently produced the “missing six” Lightweights, faithful in almost every facet to the original.
Despite the D-type racer’s immense success, including three consecutive victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours from 1955 to 1957, Jaguar was already at work in 1957 on its successor. Its E1A development car eventually became the production E-type, which caused a sensation on its debut at the Geneva motor show in March 1961 – although Jaguar had delivered production E-type Roadsters to racing customers before the car’s official debut.
Lightweights were fitted with aluminum alloy bodies and an aluminum hardtop that strengthened the shell’s rigidity. The 3.8-litre, straight-six racing engines were further upgraded with Lucas fuel injection and dry-sump lubrication, while the chassis featured revised suspension geometry and many other competition parts.
As Jaguar didn’t intend to build enough cars for the Lightweight to be homologated separately, the model was passed off as part of the production E-type family even though very few parts were shared, and it was never formally marketed or acknowledged in sales materials.
The first two purpose-built Lightweights were completed for the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1963, while at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that June, Briggs Cunningham entered three Lightweights with official support from the factory.
At the same auction, Bonhams also sold a former Scuderia Ferrari 1952 Ferrari 340 America Vignale Spider competition car for $6.38 million (£5.05 million) – a new world auction record for the model. It was driven in period by noted factory drivers in almost every prominent race, including the Mille Miglia, Le Mans 24 Hours and Targa Florio.
Another top seller was the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance multiple prize-winning 1928 Mercedes-Benz Type S 26/120/180 Supercharged Sports Tourer. Undeniably the fastest car of its day, it symbolises the elegance, performance and sheer quality that is still associated with the German marque today. It sold for $4.81 million (£3.84 million)
Ferraris performed characteristically well, with the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet making a very respectable $1,430,000 (£1.14 million). Rather more affordable was a 1984 Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole apparently used by Tom Selleck in the Magnum PI TV series, which fetched $181,500 (£144,590).