Jaguar: High speed, high hopes at auction

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A rare Jaguar E-type — the top jewel of an $18 million auction held last week, expected to gauge demand for classic cars as prices rise to record heights — didn’t sell.

The 1963 “Semi-Lightweight” hardtop Jaguar E-Type was among 89 vehicles offered by Bonhams at the annual Goodwood Revival festival in Sussex, England. The gray E-Type, one of two road models built as variants of the 12 competition cars the factory created to take on Ferrari at Le Mans, was expected to fetch as much as 2 million pounds, or $3.16 million.

The auction came after Gooding & Co., RM Auctions and Bonhams raised $166.7 million from their Monterey events in August. The total was up from $150.2 million in 2010. A 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa was sold by Gooding for $16.4 million, a record for any car at auction.

“Those results confirmed the market is healthy,” said Dietrich Hatlapa, the founder of price database Historic Automobile Group International and the author of “Better than Gold: Investing in Historic Cars” prior to the auction Friday. “An increasing number of people are looking to buy tangible assets.”

The vintage Jaguar claimed top speed of 165 mph and was made for the shipping magnate Robert Ropner. It has its original paintwork and hadn’t been offered at auction before. Other highlights of the auction were a Lister-Jaguar racer that dominated the Sports Car Club of America championships of 1958 and 1959, as well as a 1964 Aston Martin DB5.


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