Sales that Teach

Not fade away: Jaguar E-Type values are making a comeback

by John Mayhead
11 August 2022 4 min read
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The children of the '60s think E-Types are cool. But, increasingly, so do younger collectors.. Photo by Jaguar

Trends are all well and good, but sometimes tastes change. Sometimes, that change comes really quickly.

Take the Jaguar E-Type (XKE) as an example. It’s one of the most famous British cars ever made, and rightly so; speak to anyone who was a car-mad small boy in 1961 when it was launched, and they’ll tell you of the immense impact the first sight of those sweeping haunches and cowled headlamps made on them. It also utterly changed Jaguar as a company and placed the British sports car at the center of a worldwide export success story.

But Hagerty’s view over the last couple of years is that these small boys from sixty years ago are starting to fade away. If they had ever wanted to own an E-Type, they had probably already achieved their goal and had one parked in their garage. The younger money now flooding the market looked at the car, and it didn’t really flick their switches as much as the Countach, 930 and Testarossa did. We used this to explain why values of all E-Types, even those that were hugely collectible in the middle of the last decade (such as the very early outside bonnet lock and flat floor cars), were trending downwards.

But something strange is happening. This week, a Jaguar E-Type sold on Bring a Trailer for $395,000 (including fees). Although it was seemingly well-restored, it wasn’t one of the most “collectible” models: a 1967 4.2-Litre car in Carmen Red is nice, but not the purist’s 3.8-Litre in Opalescent Silver Blue. But assuming the sale is good (and there’s a lot of online chatter), that’s not just a strong sale but a ball being knocked out of the park and into the car lot next door: it’s over $30K more than the Hagerty Price Guide’s condition #1 ‘concours’ value. 

This 1967 E-type just sold on Bring a Trailer for more than twice the Hagerty Price Guide’s value for a top-notch example. (Photo courtesy Bring a Trailer/CharlesZA)

OK, so it’s not an outright record. RM Sotheby’s sold a 1966 4.2 Roadster back in 2013 for $467,500. However, that was at the height of the E-Type price frenzy, and the car in question was a three-time 100-point JCNA National Champion. It’s what Hagerty calls an ‘outlier’ because it’s a one-off.

It’s easy to dismiss the latest high sale as another outlier or chalk it up to the frenzied atmosphere at Bring a Trailer. Yet there actually has been an upward trend that may have been going on under the radar. Hagerty data show that the median value for E-Types that people have called us about insurance for has increased in the last 12 months from around $90,000 to around $108,000.

We can also see consistent evidence that these ”Boomer cars” having been rising online for some time before this sale. Look at all BaT results, and there has been a marked upshift in values over the last couple of years. Back in 2018, just one Series 1 XKE/E-Type sold on the site for more than $100,000. By the end of 2020, the first few had topped $200,000. Then, in the past 16 months, things went a bit wild: a total of 13 examples sold for over $250,000 with four selling for over $300,000 in 2022 so far.

But… and this is a big but… the resurgence in E-Type values seems to be an American phenomenon. Back in the UK, where I’m writing, values have been steady or even declining—the UK Hagerty Price Guide average for a Series I 4.2 Roadster reached a ten-year low in January 2021 of £91,200, a figure that has only just started to rise again.

Five years ago, nearly 90 percent of the Series I E-Types covered by Hagerty worldwide were owned by drivers born before 1965. Today, that’s closer to 65 percent.

It’s all about the numbers, says William Heynes, the UK-based restorer whose attention to detail has found his cars reaching the Pebble Beach lawn (and he should know, as his grandfather Bill Heynes designed the XK engine). “There just aren’t that many good restorations in the US at the moment,” he told me. “And those with real provenance and originality—totally factory-built bodies and a clean, accident-free monocoque—are almost impossible to find in America. Those good ones out there are very rare, and very desirable.”

The acceptance of the E-Type as a truly important collector car is also quite a new thing, Heynes noted. “Five years ago, there wasn’t as much information out there on the exact specification of the cars, but recent books have rectified this. Also, the model is suddenly being accepted into the top tier of motoring events; would a road-going E-Type have made it to Pebble Beach until the last couple of years and be accepted as a preservation car? I doubt it.”

So, are E-Types cool again, and if so, why? Maybe it’s that retro feel: the 1967 model sold above combined the very best of the original XKE design—covered headlamps, toggle switches, elegant bumpers—with the torquey 4.2-liter engine. If you want a competent, beautiful British roadster, you won’t go far wrong with this. “With disc brakes all round, independent rear suspension and a car that will out-perform modern traffic and easily reach 125-130 mph, it’s a lot of car for your money,” Heynes explained again. What he didn’t say was that he, along with his partner top photographer Amy Shore, detail their meticulous rebuilds through social media. This is bringing the model out to a new generation. Five years ago, nearly 90 percent of the Series I E-Types covered by Hagerty worldwide were owned by drivers born before 1965. Today, that’s closer to 65 percent.

Then again, it may also just be a numbers thing. Back in 2018, values were relatively low, so many owners felt no incentive to sell. When prices started to rise, it encouraged more cars out of the garages and into the classified ads. As the values increase, so the temptation for owners of the very best cars to part with them grows too.

So, for many reasons the E-Type is one of those few cars that, in a global marketplace, is actually diverging in price depending on where it is sold. That’s something Hagerty will keep watching.

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Comments

  • Michael Benét says:

    Truer words never spoken. Long live the e-type.

  • Jim Mclean says:

    To me, the more interesting cars were the XK120, XK140 and XK150 built before 1960. They swept Lemans and most club races in the decade. They brought in rack and pinion steering, torsion bar suspension, four wheel disk brakes and the XK twin cam engine that was basically the same as the EType. Many other innovations that led to the modern sports car, making them the Granddaddy of them all. They are much more rare with only a few thousand ever produced.

  • JACK CROWLEY says:

    What about Series3 cars adding to the allure for younger drivers? They drive like contemporary cars with their smooth powerful and V12s more roomie many have A/C and there is an abundant number of automatics if your so inclined. The early cars with the small bumpers are the ones to have, but the later cars can be retrofitted easily..

  • DrT says:

    Like beautiful art, E-Types will forever attract strong attention, & money. We’ve owned several including a ’64, ’67, and a ’73; they were all very enjoyable cars with very few detractions and were totally reliable. They are also one of the few cars that get positive comments from virtually everyone; men, women, white, black, old, young. These same folks often ignore Ferraris, Lambos, Rolls/Bentleys, etc and also get negative reactions (especially to the Rolls/Bentleys we’ve owned). That said, citing Bring-a-Trailer’s sales as indicative of the current market is, in my opinion, invalid. BaT auctions have a unique audience of monied, often not that knowledgeable, followers; akin to Saturday afternoon at Barrett-Jackson. There are still #2+++ condition Series 1 roadsters available in the $125-150,000 range but I don’t foresee them plateauing or going down in value anytime soon, if ever.

  • Henry Camp says:

    I have loved my ’64 E-Type Roadster since buying it for $8,000 in 1980. Maybe it was a mistake, because a year later I was offered a Dino needing engine work for $10,000 but I didn’t have $10k! What a great problem to have!

  • Orrin Cross says:

    I have owned a 1964 E-type roadster siince Sept. 1963, when I bought it new in England, drove it for 2 years in Europe (no speed limits) then on to California where I drove it as my only and everyday car. It sure wouldn’t win a concourse but gets super public approval with its golden sand paint and black interior. Now at 185.000 miles, matching numbers, rebuilt engine, and some updating, it is the real thing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m 89 and my son can’t wait for me to pass on so it too will pass on.

  • Trevor Markwart says:

    Anybody who doesn’t “get” the E-type should watch Mario Bava’s 1960’s pop culture legend film Danger: Diabolic. They’ll want one so bad it will hurt.

  • JAG says:

    Hard to argue with the three year run..1961 XKE….1962 GTO….1963 Stingray, may be the three most beautiful cars ever built from any era.

  • Timothy Ross says:

    I was born in ’61. When I was a kid, it made my day to see an e-type drive by, so call me smitten. I’ve owned two and have to say that it is probably the nicest car you can drive that makes everyone happy when they see it. Thumbs up, waves and good cheer meet you everywhere you go. It is also fun and plenty fast to drive and replacement parts are plentiful. Besides, the view from the cockpit is amazing over that expansive hood. I’m glad that the next generation is showing interest because I want to see a few drive by when I am in my nineties. Guaranteed to put a smile on my withered face.

  • Daniel Schweikert says:

    $395,000. What can I say. While I bought my 1966 E-type in 1982 for $5300 in Colorado, it was a California car with NO rust. But the 2nd owner was living in a trailer with two kids and had left it in a field with the top down (??). So the interior was destroyed. I was hoping to buy a nice ‘driver’ for 10K$.
    While I had a lot of mechanical skills, I had never done an interior. BUT…I bought it. With a leather replacement package from Connolly leather, I replaced the interior,…very carefully, in 150 hours.
    It was painted silver but BRG was the original color. So before move to Calif in 1988, I had it repainted
    British Racing Green. I drove it as my commute car in Colorado & in Calif. As the price of E-types rose,
    I decided to buy a cheap commute car and touch up the Jag to be a collector car….just as the price started falling. As I need some $$ to be a partner in a startup high-tech company, I sold it in 1995 for $33,000, to a professional buyer who sold it to a physician in Wisconsin for $38,000.

  • Tim Bowles says:

    I’ve owned my 1966 roadster for 39 years. For the money, I believe it is the greatest sports car for the money. The looks are undeniable, as the car routinely appears on the top 10 most beautiful cars produced. The interior is like you’re stepping into a fine gentleman’s club, with leather abundant. But that engine, it’s like jewelery. Polished cam covers and carb dash pots, and the double overhead cam, what a performer! 0-60 in 7 seconds, all the way to 145 mph. I stand to be corrected, but even the mighty Ferrari 250 swb, produced just a few years earlier, didn’t have performance #’s any better. The bottom end torque of that 4.2 litre engine, assured you no matter what gear you were in, just hit the accelerator, and it would jump.

  • Mark Novak says:

    I’ve got 68 -4.2 w 54000 original Mi
    Redone 32 yrs ago and hasn’t been in rain since— 1st wife wanted to sell— she’s gone
    Dad had 2nd 71 jag in Chicago— was in British hospital ww2– liked Brits— got mine for 4G and hid from me—

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