These are the words that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City uses to describe one of its larger acquisitions. The sculpture is described as having a “steel body: 47” x 64½” x 14′ 7½””It is a Jaguar E-Type Roadster that has been credited to Sir William Lyons, Malcolm Sayer, and William M. Heynes. No one can deny that their magnum opus, this car, has not sunk as indelibly as the most famous of paintings into the world’ consciousness. The E-Type is, quite simply, one of the most famous and instantly recognizable mechanical shapes ever created. The design of the car was birthed from the D-Type, a full-out racing car with sensuously curved aerodynamic styling that had achieved tremendous success in international competition. As it required a new, competitive production model, Jaguar’ management set about developing the design into a car that was suitable for road use. The famous, feline curves were developed by Sayer, a trained aerodynamicist, using wind tunnel testing and aircraft principles. They were constructed around a lightweight aluminum monocoque that had a tubular subframe to carry the engine, front suspension and steering, and an independent rear axle.
The E-Type debuted in Geneva in 1961, and it became a smashing success because it offered so much for relatively little. It was no more expensive than most other sports cars, but it was more beautiful than the priciest offerings from other manufacturers, and it had 150-mph performance with outstanding road manners. While the design would evolve over its 13 years of production, it never ceased being as beautiful as when it was first created.
THE FINEST OF ITS KIND
The Roadster offered here is documented by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust as having been delivered new through Jaguar Cars, of New York, to Oceana Aerial Surveys, of San Marino, California, on December 23, 1965—Merry Christmas, indeed! This later Series I model retains the desirable covered headlamps, which are appreciated by both MoMA’s curators and Jaguar enthusiasts, and incorporates the desirable 4.2-liter engine with its improved power and torque, resulting in a perfect storm of beauty and brawn. The famously car-friendly California climate can be credited to the excellent state of preservation in which this Jaguar spent its first four-and-ahalf decades, in the care of its original owner’s family. Following its sale by the family, the E-Type was brought to Classic Showcase, of Oceanside, California, one of the United States’ premiere Jaguar restoration facilities. When it arrived, it was still wearing its original interior and paint, and it was an excellent “survivor,” with 71,000 actual miles. The originality of the car provided a perfect candidate for a comprehensive rotisserie restoration to modern show standards.
The body was stripped to the bare metal, mounted on a rotisserie, and properly metal-fi nished with lead to ensure smooth, straight panels. All body parts and chrome were then test-fi tted to the body, to ensure a proper fi t, before the body was correctly painted and refi nished in an elegant, factory-correct Black, with an amazingly deep shine and fi nish. The brightwork was all tripleplated to the highest of concours standards, for an amazing shine. Chrome wire wheels add a glow about the wheel arches. The interior was fi tted with a completely new, custom-tailored interior in the correct materials and pattern by Classic Showcase’s upholstery department, including new seats, carpet, door panels, and dashboard covering. The top bows were fully restored before being fi tted with a new black convertible top that was custom-sewn and fi tted to original specifi cations. Even the correct and difficult to duplicate “shot bag,” a narrow tube of lead shot that prevents the top from billowing in the wind, was sewn and installed to ensure a completely accurate restoration. All dashboard instruments, the switchgear, and knobs were properly restored, including the Blaupunkt radio. The original, matching-numbers 4.2-liter engine was rebuilt to factory specifi cations by being machined and calibrated with new pistons, an oil pump, a timing chain, bearings, valves, guides, and seals. The head and carburetors were fully rebuilt, and the driveshaft was properly balanced. As withall aspects of this restoration, New Old Stock parts were used extensively, whenever possible. Notably, “Black Beauty” was the name her restorers at Classic Showcase gave her, and it is how this amazing E-Type has become known on the concours circuit. In 2011, the car was shown in three separate Jaguar Club of North America-sanctioned events, achieving an unheard-of 100-point score every time, and it was recognized as a JCNA National Champion. Black Beauty was also a First in Class winner at the Dana Point Concours and the Desert Classic. Most prominently, it was invited by Jaguar to be part of its corporate display on Peter Hay Hill at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was the E-Type selected to share space with a C-Type, D-Type, and the new F-Type—elite company, indeed. Simply put, this car is the fi nest restored E-Type that RM Auctions and Sotheby’s have ever had the pleasure of offering for sale, and it may well be among the fi nest restored examples known. Few have ever taken to this standard, and perhaps none have been so all-conquering on the fi eld, or so accepted by the factory as a standard of perfection. Black Beauty is not just another E-Type; it is a world-class Jaguar with attention to detail that is as striking as its very shape.
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