Should the Jaguar XK series recognize its superior in the Jaguar E-Type? This may seem like a strange question, but it is not. Both series compete for the interest of the enthusiast, who is interested in having a classic sports car made by Jaguar. How has that interest developed in recent years? And what might this say about the future of the Jaguar XJ-S?
Introduced in 1948, the Jaguar XK120 Roadster was considered one of the most beautifoul sports cars of the time. Add to that the excellent performance of the 3.4 liter engine and the affordability of the car, and all the bases for a great sales success were present. Over the years, there several versions were made, both in terms of bodywork and technical execution. Because quite a lot has been written about the car and the car is well known, this article does not go into this in detail. Let us suffice with some general information.
The first 240 cars had an alloy coachwork, 57 RHD and 183 LHD. All other cars had a steel body. In addition to the Roadster, appeared in 1951 the Coupe and in 1953 the Drophead Coupe. The XK120 was succeeded in 1954 by the more roomy XK140 and in 1957 by the revised XK150. Later the last model was also available with the 3.8 liter engine. The XK120 and XK140 Roadsters had detachable sidescreens. The XK150 Roadster had wind-up side windows. In the 1950s, the Jaguar XK-series was exported to the United States in large numbers. Far away most cars are therefore left hand drive.
Now the most expensive cars were made at the beginning and at the end. These are the first hand made XK120 Roadsters with an alloy coachwork. And the latest cars with larger 3.8-liter engine with SU carburetors, the XK150 3.8 S. About 275 of these were made. In total more than 30,000 XKs were made.
1960 Jaguar XK150S 3.8 Litre DHC, auctioned by Bonhams in June 2014 for £203,100. Photo Bonhams.
Already in 1980 the XK120, 140 and 150 were known as beloved classic sports cars. Around that time, in the magazine Thoroughbred & Classic Cars £ 8,750 was asked for a beautiful XK120 Roadster. And for an XK150 DHC that was over £ 7,000. That may not seem so much right now. But beware. Virtually none of the Aston Martins DB4 or DB5 offered in the magazine equaled the asking price of these Jaguars. In the very same time an Aston Martin DB6 Volante had an asking price of £ 11,250. This was slightly lower than the asking price for an XK120 with an alloy coachwork, for which £ 12,000 was requested. During the 1980s, the prices of the Jaguars rose sharply. In 1989/1990 the prices reached a peak, after which they dropped until the mid-nineties. From then on, prices rose again steadily.
In the year 2000, the highest prices achieved at auctions of a beautiful XK140 DHC was almost £ 40,000. In recent years, that was around £ 160,000. However, it must be said that since the year 2000 these Jaguars have not risen strongly in value. When we take the year 2000 as the starting point, then depending on the type, they have risen approximately two to four times since then. In comparison, the highest auction results of the Aston Martins DB4 and DB5 increased tenfold in the same period. Two bar graphs show, at the same scale, the highest auction results per year of the XK120 Alloy Roadster and the XK140 Drophead Coupe.
1949 Jaguar XK120 Alloy roadster, auctioned by Bonhams in August 2016 for $ 396,000 (£ 302,500). Photo Bonhams.
1955 Jaguar XK140 DHC, auctioned by Bonhams in September 2017 for £ 161,100. Photo Bonhams.
The Jaguar XK was succeeded by the E-Type. Just like the XK120 before, the Jaguar E-Type gathered much admiration when it was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961. The two-seat Fixedhead Coupe and the Roadster were equipped with the well-known 3.8 liter engine, which was also used in the XK150. With that, the car reached a top speed of almost 150 mph. This high performance was comparable to that of, for example, the Aston Martin DB5 and the Ferrari 275 GBT. The new price of the Jaguar was, however, a lot lower. No wonder the Jaguar E-Type became a sales success.
1961 Jaguar E-Type ‘Flat Floor’ Coupe, auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in August 2018 for $ 720,000 (£ 560,500). Photo RM Sotheby’s, David Bush.
The first 2,614 E-Types had a flat floor. These are now the most sought after, even though they are less comfortable to ride. Top of the bill is the ‘Flat Floor’ with external bonnet locks. Of these 496 cars were made, 22 Coupes and 474 Roadsters. Later, several different versions of the E-Type appeared, some of which are mentioned. In 1964 the engine capacity was increased to 4.2 liters and the car got a synchronized gearbox and more comfortable seats. Two years later the Coupe was also available as a more spacious 2 + 2. In the transition period to the new Jaguar E-Type S2, from 1967 to 1968 the S1 1/2 was made. This version differed, among other things, due to the lack of coverage of the headlights, as was the case with the later cars. The Series 2 was made from 1969 to 1971. This model had, among other things, other bumpers, different position of the rear lights, different interior and a larger opening for the radiator. The Series 3 had a V12 and an even more modified bodywork. The last 50 cars made, called Commerorative, are the most expensive of the Series 3. In 2015, Bonhams auctioned a beautiful and original car for £ 203,000.
1975 Jaguar E-Type S3 Commemorative Roadster, auctioned by Bonhams in June 2015 for £ 203,100. Photo Bonhams.
While the XK series was collected after just a few decades as a beloved classic sports car, the E-Types had to wait longer. The prices remained relatively low for some time. Perhaps the later image of the factory played a role in this, just like the large numbers of cars produced (over 70,000 in total). But in the last ten years the E-Types have become more and more in the spotlight. This is particularly true for the ‘Flat Floor’ (Coupe and Roadster) and the S1 4.2 Roadster. In the year 2000 these cars were mostly auctioned for less than £ 40,000. In recent years, some S1 4.2 Roadsters achieved over £ 200,000 at auction. Some ‘Flat Floor’ Roadsters with external bonnet locks passed the limit of £ 300,000. And in August 2018 RM Sotheby’s auctioned an early E-Type Flat Floor Coupe even for more than £ 550,000! Because the prices of a few types have increased so strong in recent years, this can also strengthen the price development of the other E-Types.
To compare with the XK120 Alloy Roadster, a bar graph shows the price development of an E-Type S1 ‘Flat Floor’ Roadster. A Roadster with racing history, auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in May 2017 for £ 508,500 is not included. In another bar graph the price development of the much sought after S1 4.2 Roadster is shown. Both bar graphs are at the same scale as the earlier bar graphs of the XK-models.
1961 Jaguar E-Type ‘Flat Floor’ Roadster, auctioned by Bonhams in June 2016 for £ 225,000. Photo Bonhams.
1967 Jaguar E-Type S1 4.2 Litre Roadster, auctioned by Bonhams in June 2015 for £ 186,300. Photo Bonhams.
From these bar graphs, the picture emerges that in recent years the E-Type has attracted more enthusiasts than the XK-series. The shift in interest has to do with, among other things, the age of the cars and that of the collectors. Current collectors are more interested in cars from the sixties and seventies than in those in the years before. That is why the XK-series is declining in the interest and the E-Types is getting more popular. Thinking ahead of this process, one could expect that the XJ-S will also become more interesting to collectors in the near future. These are cars that usually require less than £ 30,000 for beautiful specimen. But in the future some may increase very strong in price. An example of such a car is the relative rare Jaguar XJR-S.