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Col­lect­ing spe­cial bits of Jaguars

IAN COOL­ING’S The Com­plete Guide To Jaguar Col­lectibles is a stan­dard-set­ter in analysing au­to­mo­bilia for a sin­gle mar­que. Pub­lished back in 1998, the lav­ishly il­lus­trated book tes­ti­fies to a Jag pas­sion born in his 1950s school­days. He says his bed­room walls were plas­tered with pic­tures and cut­tings on the com­pany’s epic rac­ing achieve­ments. ‘My mother was ap­palled but my heart was in those cars. That re­ally was Jaguar’s leg­end-mak­ing era.’

For Ian, the book was an ad­junct to his rep­u­ta­tion as a lead­ing dealer in the stuff of Jaguar. Since its pub­li­ca­tion, he’s de­vel­oped a unique on-line ‘dis­tant auc­tion’ (www.jagua­rauto­mo­ that’s crammed with noth­ing but Jaguar books, brochures, mod­els, mas­cots and any­thing else he or his cus­tomers care to en­ter. Once reg­is­tered, up to 200 bid­ders ta­ble com­pet­ing of­fers dur­ing a lim­ited pe­riod, based on Ian’s knowl­edge­able de­scrip­tions.

‘I’ve known some cus­tomers for 40 years, and I have about 100 diehard reg­u­lars,’ he says. ‘But ev­ery year I add more who are new to Jaguar. It’s an in­ter­est­ing trend: they’ve bought brand new cars, loved them, and then wanted to reach back into its his­tory.’

Printed ephemera for Jaguar sports cars is a sta­ple of the auc­tion. Brochures for XKs kick off with the launch edi­tion for the XK120, worth £150 in ex­cel­lent or­der, but mod­el­spe­cific data and print vari­a­tions can com­mand se­ri­ous pre­mi­ums.

The XK140 brochure, for in­stance, is soughtafter be­cause it’s the last with full il­lus­tra­tions (rather than part-pho­to­graphic), but the fancy cover-lam­i­nate lifts and clouds, so nice ex­am­ples are scarce, and are worth more than £100. The XK150 edi­tion usu­ally suf­fers dog-ears be­cause its larger-than-A4 for­mat makes it vul­ner­a­ble in stor­age; only one edi­tion fea­tures the SE, worth £175 if in peachy con­di­tion. A 1935 brochure for an SS100 Jaguar can com­mand £500.

‘The dif­fer­ence be­tween poor and very good in pre-war brochures can amount to £200, and run-of-the-mill ex­am­ples are worth half the value of the best spec­i­mens. Prices re­ally have been pulled up as the val­ues of the cars them­selves have risen.’

Look no fur­ther than the strong val­ues of owner’s hand­books for proof. Ob­ses­sive XK120 own­ers will want all eight dif­fer­ent is­sues, which start at £100 min­i­mum apiece for clean ex­am­ples, yet a flimsy pa­per insert for the XK120 SE can add £50.

Among old toys, a con­sis­tently de­sir­able piece is Tri-ang’s Spot-On XKSS, a highly un­usual choice for diecast scale-model cap­ture. There are five known colour vari­a­tions and, with boxes and wind­screen in­tact, they’re worth up to £250 a time. You might eas­ily pay as much for a 1:20 scale Tri-ang Elec­tric Jaguar Mk1 sa­loon, in su­per-brit­tle plas­tic; the box art was copied craftily from the car’s brochure.

Widen­ing the scope, Ian has just ac­cepted an al­loy pro­to­type of the V6 XJ220’s cam cover but with ‘220’ cast on it, not the pro­duc­tion car’s ‘XJ220’ (pic­tured above). What fa­nat­i­cal cus­tomers will pay for this is un­tested, al­though Ian says sev­eral XJ220 own­ers have re­cently joined his list, so a bat­tle is in prospect. Af­ter all, brochures for the pro­to­type V12 car, as dis­tinct from the V6 pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle, have leapt in value from £250 to £650, fu­elled by rar­ity – only about 25 are thought to ex­ist.

Not ev­ery­thing Jaguar-re­lated is worth a packet. The com­pany’s book­let en­ti­tled Gen­e­sis Of The Jaguar V12 is a won­der­ful piece, with its ac­etate over­lays so you can dis­sect the en­gine’s in­ner se­crets, yet it strug­gles to make a ten­ner.

But that doesn’t mean he’s shut­ting out newer items with po­ten­tial as great in­vest­ments. Ian is gen­er­ous with his tips for Jaguar au­to­mo­bilia that’s ripe for ap­pre­ci­a­tion. He strongly rec­om­mends us to start cher­ish­ing items from the 1983-86 pe­riod of the XJ-S’s ap­pear­ance in Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship races. ‘It’s an over­looked part of Jaguar’s rac­ing her­itage,’ he main­tains. ‘The flame was flick­er­ing, be­ing kept just alive, be­fore the com­pany re­turned to tri­umph at Le Mans. You might be very lucky and find some­thing like a door panel from one of the cars; that, po­ten­tially, could be very spe­cial.’

Among mod­els, Ian’s an ad­vo­cate of a se­ries of 1:43 hand­made Le Mans win­ners pro­duced by Tim Dyke’s MPH Mod­els, us­ing Provence Moulage cast­ings as their ba­sis. They’re worth about £150 each to­day but, as there were only 20-25 of each, Ian thinks a full set will soon be worth £5000, and be prized for its com­plete­ness. ‘I also rate the se­ries of 1:43 scale pewter mod­els from Dan­bury Mint,’ he con­fides. ‘They’re very at­trac­tive and were sold only on sub­scrip­tion, so lit­tle-known, and not too ex­pen­sive – yet.’

Ian has a few copies of his su­perb book still avail­able. It’s a col­lectible it­self th­ese days. When you flick it open, the fron­tispiece is the one item that’s eclipsed ev­ery­thing Jaguar that’s passed through his hands: F Gor­don Crosby’s pro­to­type for Jaguar’s leap­ing mas­cot. He’s sold it sev­eral times, watch­ing its value soar from £2600 to £42,000. It’s the world-record price for a sin­gle piece of Jaguar au­to­mo­bilia, backed by a sheaf of lawyers’ af­fi­davits guar­an­tee­ing au­then­tic­ity…

‘Ian is gen­er­ous with his tips for Jaguar au­to­mo­bilia that’s ripe for ap­pre­ci­a­tion’

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