E Type 001
All images: James Lipman/Influx
If the world of classic cars is littered sparsely with elusive gems, then in Jaguar lore these jewels are mercifully accessible.
This car before you is the very first right hand drive production Jaguar E-Type Fixed Head Coupé. Supplied by Jaguar Cars in August 1961, 1 VHP was London dealer Henly’s London E-Type demonstrator – and as such it is the car that sent all subsequent generations of E-Type fetishists deep into their troubled world.
While a few of us have been lucky enough to own an early E-Type, almost all of us, at some time or another have been intoxicated by the rakish sophistication of the long nosed lovely from Coventry.
To think that this is Chassis 001: the actual car that created the enduring image of the E-type as the ultimate in British motoring is rather awe-inspiring, when you think about it.
In 2001, this very important E-Type underwent a total restoration by CMC, including a full rebuild of the XK engine, restoration of the bodywork, interior retrimming and a re-painting in its original Opalescent Dark Blue.
But the early life of the car is shrouded in a byzantine web of history. It has had mutliple registrations, has been owned by a variety of Jaguar lovers and desecrated in period purple metalflake by a very jammy twenty-one year old some time in the seventies.
In the nineties it was apparently sold for a pound, on the understanding that ‘full & fanatical’ restoration would take place to this as well as the fabled 9600 HP car, the demonstration E-Type that was driven to geneva for launch.
Sitting in the compact (but surprisingly roomy) cabin of a FHC, there is a tangible sense of the ambition of the E-Type’s creators. The bucket seats are snug and low-slung – throwback to fifties motoring: but the aluminium trim of the dash and the simple switchgear suggest perfectly the racing heritage of the marque that gave it birth.
Stirring the box in an E-Type involves a relatively long, mechanical feeling throw by contemporary sports car standards, but the satisfaction of the twist of torque in that beautiful long snout when you gun the XK engine in idle is intensely satisfying.
It’s impossible to deny the carnal longing that sitting at the helm of an E-Types produces – and for all the minutiae of chassis numbers, registrations and restorations, that’s what sits at the heart of our collective love for this sublime car.
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