Though it came clad in an aluminum body crafted by Giovanni Michelotti, the expectations for the unique – but tired – Jaguar XK140 SE were modest. Prior to last week’s Monaco sale, the high estimate provided by Bonhams was 50,000 euros, or roughly $59,000, with the proceeds going to benefit the Animal Rescue Centre Ghent. When the dust settled, however, the 1955 Jaguar XK140 SE Michelotti coupe went to a new owner for fee-inclusive price of 356,500 euros ($423,628), decisively crushing the pre-auction estimate – and making one non-profit extremely happy.
Chassis S814286 began life as a standard production, left-hand drive Jaguar XK140 SE coupe, delivered new to a buyer in Paris by Jaguar’s French distributor, Charles Delecroix. It isn’t clear how long Mme. Jeanne Gaymard owned the cream-colored Jaguar with the two-tone blue interior, but in 1957 an accident destroyed the car’s bodywork, and quite possibly its 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine as well.
Instead of scrapping the car or returning it to Coventry for repair, chassis S814286 was instead shipped to Giovanni Michelotti in Turin, Italy, for a custom aluminum body and other necessary repairs. Not content to simply resculpt the exterior, Michelotti restyled the interior as well, using the same Velia instrumentation as the Lancia Flaminia.
The car’s post-Michelotti history is something of a question mark, though actress Brigitte Bardot was frequently photographed with the car (now finished in a medium blue), leading many to believe she was the owner. The documentation doesn’t exist to support this claim, and the bespoke Jaguar was later rediscovered by Roland Urban, then president of the French Jaguar Drivers Club. During an inspection of the car (likely prior to his purchase), certain C-type engine modifications (such as exhaust manifolds) were noted but not further detailed.
After Urban’s ownership, the car ended up in Belgium, where in 1999 it was acquired by a Mr. Schepens, reportedly a coachbuilder in Ghent. Schepens drove the car for the next five or six years, but in the mid-2000s took it off the road to begin a comprehensive restoration. The project was never finished, and in 2016 Schepens died at age 80, leaving his car collection to the charity of his choice, the Animal Rescue Centre Ghent.
The custom-bodied Jaguar, circa 1979.
Upon detailed inspection prior to the car’s auction listing, it was found to have engine E1016-8, positively identifying it as a C-type block originally installed in chassis XKC 016. At the 1953 Mille Miglia, chassis XKC 016 was involved in a high-speed accident that claimed the life of driver Pierre Gilbert Ugnon, and the car’s usable parts were salvaged for other projects (though remarkably, the remains of XKC 016 were restored in the mid-1980s). Given the timing, it’s quite possible that engine E1016-8 was installed in the car at the same time the Michelotti coachwork was fitted.
1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale coupe.
While the bespoke Jaguar raised a respectable amount of money for a worthy cause, it failed to crack the top-10 at Bonhams’s “Les Grandes Marques à Monaco” sale. That list included Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLaren-Cosworth Ford MP4/8A Formula 1 car, which sold for €4.2 million ($4.99 million), reportedly to retired F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone; Ayrton Senna’s 1984 Toleman-Hart TG184 Formula 1 car, which sold for €1.61 million ($1.91 million); a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, which sold for €1.22 million ($1.45 million); a 1931 Bentley 8-Litre Tourer, which sold for €741,666 ($881,322); Michele Alboreto’s 1987 Ferrari F1/87 Formula 1 car, which sold for €666,666 ($792,200); a 1993 Bugatti EB110 GT coupe, which sold for €603,750 ($717,436); a 1973 Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS Touring coupe, which sold for €575,000 ($683,272); a 1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale coupe, which sold for €414,000 ($491,956); a 1939 Horch 853A Sportcabriolet, which sold for €391,000 ($464,625); and a 1963 Ferrari 250GTE 2+2 coupe, which sold for €379,500 ($450,959).
For complete results from the Monaco sale, visit Bonhams.com.