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Art on the Road: The Classic Jaguar

Jaguar has produced some of the most iconic and distinctive automobiles of all time.

BY NICHOLAS FORREST

Via BlouinArtInfo

Over its 80-year history, British car maker Jaguar has produced some of the most iconic and distinctive automobiles of all time, and it is a rich heritage the legendary marque actively celebrates. The brand recently extended its commitment to its classic models with the launch of a new race series for historic Jaguar competition cars and the opening of the new Heritage workshop in conjunction with the marque’s newly established Jaguar Heritage division.

This continued commitment to its rich history bodes well for the market value of its historic models, which have shown a steady price increase over the last 10+ years, according to Nick Goldthorp, managing director at UK-based Classic Motor Cars Ltd., one of the world’s leading restorers of classic Jaguars. But Goldthorp says that the majority of clients are purchasing the cars because they want to own and enjoy using a classic Jaguar. “The fact that the car should increase in value year on year is not the primary or motivation behind the purchase,” he says, adding that he believes that prices for the very good cars will continue to rise.

The rise in value of historic Jaguars since the financial crisis of 2008 is confirmed by Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) and creator of the world’s first independent and accurate financial index for measuring the rare collector’s automobile market. Hatlapa reveals that the market for Jaguar has developed very similarly to the HAGI ex P&F Index, which he says has gained 188% to the end of February 2015 since the end of 2008.

“This has been calculated in sterling and is relevant for the rare collectors’ Jaguar performance cars like the XK-E (E type) or the SS100 pre-war Jaguar,” he explains. While Jaguar might be responsible for some of the most beautiful road cars ever produced, the marque’s race cars are its most valuable and desirable. At the Amelia Island auction in Florida this March, auction house RM Sotheby’s achieved significant prices for not one but two iconic Jaguar race cars.

The first, a 1955 Jaguar D-Type with an extensive race history, sold for $3.67 million. The second, a Daytona-winning 1988 XJR-9 which is perhaps best known for its distinctive rear fender skirts, made an impressive $2.1 million. Dan Warrener, car specialist at RM Sotheby’s, says that at the higher end of the market, which includes such cars as the SS100, C-Type, D-Type, XKSS and Competition Lightweight XKE’s, all are considered great investments because of very low production numbers and fantastic early racing history in the mid 50’s. “However, they are priced in the $3-10 million range so appeal to a smaller group of collectors,” says Warrener. “That said, these rare cars have seen fantastic appreciation in value and in many cases have tripled in value in past 10 years,” he adds.

One of the reasons that Jaguar’s race cars are so much more valuable than its road cars is that the marque produced significant numbers of road cars that are now considered classics. Aston Martin, for example, made only 1,023 DB5s, whereas Jaguar made 70,000 E-types. James Knight, Bonhams group motoring director, says that one has to accept that many Jaguars were sold in the period.

“They were tremendous value up against Aston Martin, its primary UK competitor, offering the same performance for a fraction of the cost,” he explains. “Scroll forward from the 1950s/60s and, with Aston prices being where they are, they are beyond budget for many. The Jaguar is a worthy alternative and many collectors have focused towards the marque. This has ensured Jaguars have appreciated as well, and this is why we’ve seen the rest of the British food chain – Austin-Healey, Triumph, and MG for example – appreciate as well.”

Although Jaguar’s E-type is not a rare car, exceptional and early examples of the model can still attract relatively high prices. In November 2013, RM Auctions set an auction record for an E-type when it sold a 1966 Series I 4.2-Litre roadster for $467,500. Dubbed “Black Beauty,” the well-known concours car is considered one of the best examples in existence.

Warrener says that the market trends for XKEs (E-types) have gained momentum in the past five years.

“We are consistently selling great Series 1 XKEs at auction with prices ranging from $250,000 to $350,000 depending on the year and other variables,” he explains, adding, “The External Bonnet Latch 1961 XKE Roadsters are currently the most desirable and valuable.” When the Jaguar E-type was displayed for the first time at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, legend has it that Enzo Ferrari described the E-type as “the most beautiful car ever made.” On the occasion of its 75th anniversary in 2010, Jaguar developed a car that Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design, boldly claimed would be “the finest looking and most innovative Jaguar ever produced.”

The car in question is the C-X75 concept – a hybrid supercar that Jaguar described as its most advanced model to date. The C-X75 was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show where it received AutoWeek’s coveted “Best in Show” award and the 2010 Louis Vuitton Classic Concept award.

Sadly, Jaguar was forced to pull the plug on the project in 2012 as a result of the global economic climate. Although it will never see production, Jaguar recently announced that the C-X75 concept will be immortalized in the upcoming James Bond film Spectre, the 24th in the series and the fourth starring Daniel Craig as Bond. According to Jaguar, the C-X75 will be featured in a spectacular car chase sequence through Rome alongside the Aston Martin DB10 – a classic way to immortalize the stillborn C-X75 as the automotive star of a James Bond film.

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