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Fantastic early E-type

A unique E-type SuperFind waiting to be found again

Above image: The early E-type SuperFind in Sicily, with only 23,000km from new.

I miss my fantastic early E-type! It is exactly 35 years ago today that I bought my Jaguar E-type, and I can tell you that I miss it a lot.

I was only 25 years old, and my E-type was a 1962 Coupe in metallic blue with original grey leather. It was a total beauty, believe me, and it was rather special. It had unusual bonnet side louvres and Plexiglass windows. The interior was partially stripped out, so no radio, no astray, no heater – a pure Jag, and it went like stink! I found it by accident in an underground garage in Agrigento, Sicily. The chassis number I remember as 888809, and I believe its registration number was AG-4926.

1962 Coupe in metallic blue

Above: Chassis No. 888809 was used by a film crew in Sicily, and apparently Claudia Cardinale drove it.

In 1985, nobody really wanted E-types, but I did and I had always preferred the early Coupe. She was a rare European-specification LHD version with a very long final-drive ratio, and an engine with 9:1 compression ratio. On top of that, she had only 23,000km on the clock when I found her. A great SuperFind from today’s perspective.

The old garage owner told me that the car was a leftover from a film company. The film crew had used it, and Claudia Cardinale was regularly seen driving it in the hills, or taking it on shopping trips to Palermo. It’s a nice thought to imagine her driving around in the Jag, the rear compartment full of colourful bags from Prada, Gucci or Louis Vuitton. After the film was completed, apparently the film company left the car and gave it to the garage owner as payment for his services, whatever they may have been, but since the elderly fellow was much too large to be comfortable in the tiny cockpit, he just left it sitting in the basement and forgot about it for 21 years!

E-type for films

Above: Once recommissioned, it proved to be a fantastically reliable car.

I loved that car so much when I first saw it in that dusty garage, it was no less than love at first sight. I had to have it. I borrowed some money from my Mum, and had the car transported on a battered flatbed Fiat Ducato all the way to Cologne, where I lived. The journey took five days.

After some fiddling, the Jag was fine and gave me years of absolute pleasure. The car spoke to all my senses. I drove the beautiful Coupe virtually day and night, summer and winter, and it became my second home. As a young advertising-film director, I was in heaven with this car. We did many long drives together, and it never once let me down – it had to work hard, and we were a good team.

Why did I part with it? Well, one of those stories... One late, rainy night, someone rang my doorbell and asked through the intercom if the old Jaguar parked outside was mine. The lady at the door said she wanted to buy it as a birthday present for her husband! (Maybe she had some making up to do!)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, she came in and made me an offer I couldn‘t refuse. She said that if we did a deal, I would have to deliver the car that night to a destination near Hannover, about 3 or 4 hours away. Looking out of the window I saw the blackest and rainiest night ever, and I wasn‘t quite sure if I wanted to do it.

Michael with his E-type

Above: Note the extra bonnet side louvres. With its long final-drive ratio and 9:1 compression-ratio engine, it was very fast.

The lady could see I was reluctant, and asked me to look outside again to see the red Porsche 911 sitting in front of the house. The Porsche was hers, and she would give that to me, on top of the payment, if I would deliver the Jag. A 911 was not quite so valuable in the early eighties, but even so…

So, I agreed, and said I would drive to Hannover during the night, pick up the money, leave the Jag and drive the Porsche back home. It was a done deal, but boy it was hard to part with my old Jag. It broke my heart.

Postscript: Many weeks later, I realised that I hadn’t told the lady that the car had an interesting history, or where it actually came from, and therefore any subsequent owners will probably not know. So, if you own a metallic-blue 1962 E-type Coupe, with chassis number 888809, original grey leather and unique bonnet side louvres, the chances are you own the Claudia Cardinale car. Please let me know!

Michael Kliebenstein with E-typeAbove: Heavenly moments in 1985 – 35 years ago. 

 

By Michael Kliebenstein

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