Ask Mark Terry, the Director of our Estate and Collector Vehicles Department, about the rare 1968 Jaguar E-Type Series 1.5, which we’re offering in our Spring Quarterly Auction. He can tell you all about its internal mechanics and go into comprehensive detail about the design of the vehicle, and changes specific to that 1968 edition: the change from toggle to rocker switches in the dash, the removal of the headlight covers. But he’s likelier to start, eyes alight, by telling you about the Jaguar’s history. Not the history of the make and model, but the biography of this very car.
“It was bought new in lower Manhattan in 1968,” Terry says. The buyer quickly found himself overtaxed by keeping up with the necessary regular maintenance, and he considered selling it. But his eighteen-year-old son loved the Jaguar and begged him not to let it go. So his father gave it to him. The young man couldn’t afford mechanics’ bills, “so he learned how to work on the car himself,” Terry says. Other than a minor restoration done by professionals in the 1980’s, the owner has done virtually all the work on the willow-green vehicle himself, and it retains most of its original features.
The Jaguar’s rarity (fewer than two thousand were made) and beauty make it valuable; but the owner’s decades of care and maintenance—the legacy of his deeper, hands-on investment, from the inside out—are what make it priceless, and truly unique.
Terry identifies with the Jaguar’s owner. He grew up on a dairy farm outside Durham, and from an early age he was discovering his own intuitive sensibility, “I fix things,” he says, simply, then adds, “My attention to detail is sometimes too intense.” He breaks into a smile that is slightly sheepish, but also excitable—the smile of an aficionado.
He comes by it honestly. Terry’s father worked at Durham’s Porsche-Audi dealership in the 1970’s, “the heyday of Porsche,” Terry says. The collectible car posters his father brought home wound up on Terry’s bedroom walls, stoking a youthful infatuation that never left him. In 2012, he joined our staff, and he now leads the ongoing expansion of our presence in the collectible car market in the southeast.
Like many of our department directors at Leland Little, Terry is driven by an animating passion for his specialty, abetted by his natural affinity for the working parts, aesthetic appeal, histories and importance of the vehicles he brings in from consignors.
In The Spring Quarterly Auction, we are offering not only the 1968 Jaguar but also a 1978 Trans Am SE Y88 Gold Special Edition, with a four-speed transmission and a 400 cubic inch eight-cylinder engine. Fewer than eight thousand of these models were made, and of these only 1,267 were equipped with the four-speed transmission—although, Terry notes, there may incorrectly appear to be more of them, “The Gold Edition was sometimes cloned,” he says, noting that vehicles, like art, can be forged—which is to say that vehicles are art, of course. We’re proud to offer two rare and beautiful specimens in our upcoming sale.