Sunday, 24 January 2016

Art, Aircraft or Automobile?

An historic E-Type Jaguar heads H&H Classics offering at the London Classic Car Show. The first batch E-Type competition car with racing history is estimated to sell for £700,000 to £900,000 was shaped by an aircraft designer with aerodynamic experience.

H&H Classics stand, number C170, will feature a special 1961 Jaguar E-Type 3.8 Competition Roadster, ‘9 VPD’, which was among the very first E-Types to go racing. Shaped by Malcolm Sayer (1916 –1970), an aircraft and car designer, his most notable work being the C-Type and D-Type Jaguar sports racers that claimed five Le Mans 24-hours victories between them as well of course as the immortal E-Type production car.

He spent the last twenty years of his life working at Jaguar Cars and was one of the first engineers to apply principles of aircraft design to cars. It is thus hardly surprising that this car has something of the aerodynamics of an aircraft, but the fact that is was so beloved by so many has something to do with its sheer artistic beauty.

Finished in Opalescent Dark Blue livery the 1961 Jaguar Roadster is estimated to sell for £700,000 - 900,000 at H&H Classics Duxford sale on April 19-20. This is the venue which saw the company last October join one of only five classic car auction houses to sell a car for over $10m.

The E-Type coming to the London Classic Car Show has an interesting history. After a meticulous restoration the re-born '9VPD' returned to the track for the July 2005 Silverstone Classic Festival. In July 2006 it finished 4th at the Le Mans Classic (behind two Ford GT40s and a Cobra). That same year also saw the E-Type win its class during the Spa 6-hours with Richard Attwood joining Steve Markey and Radical ace Austin Kinsella behind the wheel.

‘9 VPD’ was the first Jaguar home during the Legends race which preceded the 2007 Le Mans 24-hours and paid tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Coventry marque's famous 1957 D-Type victory and made its Goodwood Revival debut that season too with Rauno Aaltonen co-driving alongside Steve Markey. A regular at the Goodwood Revival, Le Mans Classic and Spa since then, chassis 850007 has also been helmed by the likes of Emanuele Pirro, Marc Gene and Tony Jardine.

Overseen by Jaguar's Engineering Director Bill Heynes and supplied to favoured teams on Lofty England's say so, the seven right-hand drive Roadsters built to Project ZP 537/24 specification were the very first E-Type competition cars.

Upgraded by the Competition Department at Browns Lane, the septet had particular attention paid to their running gear: increased compression ratio, gas flowed cylinder head, lightened flywheel, competition clutch springs and close-ratio gearboxes.

One of two cars earmarked for John Coombs - the other five being distributed among Tommy Sopwith, Peter Berry and Sir Gawaine Baillie - chassis 850007 was completed on 29th March 1961 but not officially road registered as '9 VPD' for another four months (21st July 1961). Typically used as the Coombs team's paddock car whilst its sister machine '4 WPD' (chassis 850006 which became the first 'Lightweight') performed most of the racing duties, '9 VPD' took to the track for the Scott Brown Trophy on 23rd July 1961.

As usual H&H Classics will bring along some motoring magic to the London Classic Car Show which takes place at ExCel London on 18 – 21 February.

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