1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I Fixed Head Coupé – ‘The Geneva Launch Car’

One Of The Most Important Non-Competition Jaguar’s Ever To Be Offered For Sale.

  • The first ever Jaguar E-Type seen in public, unveiled to the press and VIP guests at the Parc des Eaux Vives
  • One of the three E-Type’s at Geneva in 1961, and the car used on the Geneva show stand, wowing the general public
  • Possibly the most important non-competition Jaguar in the world.
  • One of the very first hand built, pre-production prototype E-Types

Two E-type Coupés were used by Jaguar in its unveiling in Geneva in 1961. The venue on Wednesday, 15 March was Le Gastronomic du Parc des Eaux Vives ,a restaurant on the south-western shore of Lake Geneva. It was after the launch that journalists were given demonstration runs and photography sessions in one of them, perhaps the most recognisable of the two, registered as 9600 HP (chassis 885002). This was not, though, the launch car, the very first E-Type ever to be seen in public.

That accolade fell to the other car, chassis 885005.

This Coupe was actually inside the restaurant, hidden inside a giant plywood packing case whose sides fell away to reveal the car. Its reception by the world’s press is well documented. It was after this great unveiling that the reporters then trouped outside to admire 9600 HP. Back in the dining room, meanwhile, Jaguar staff were hurriedly removing both car and packing case to take it to the Salon de l’Automobile for its public unveiling – with similar theatre – the very next day.

Car 885005 wasn’t meant to be a coupé. It was Sir William Lyons insistence that the launch E-type should be the three-door fastback that saw, at short notice, a roadster chassis purloined from the Experimental Department at Browns Lane and modified into a doppelganger for the Geneva demo car.

After the show debut, the E-type was registered for Swiss road use on 15 May, and the following day was sold to the CAP Assurances insurance company, whose chief executive was Georges Filippinetti. He was also founder of the privateer race team Scuderia Filippinetti, and it’s safe to presume that 885005 was for his personal use and certainly not a company pool car!

Little of its subsequent history is known until the car thankfully returned to the historic E-type orbit in 1999 when it was acquired by Pierre Pittet, an administrator of the University of Lausanne. In 2002 Pittet sold the car to Georg Doenni of GB Classic Cars of Roggliswil, Switzerland, and it then transferred to the Jenny Collection. Only then was an extensive but very careful restoration begun. Many body parts were carefully corrected back to how they had been when leaving Coventry in March 1961, at the same time as identifying and cherishing the quirks of what had once been a hard-working development vehicle.

The launch of the E-Type at Geneva is one of the most important milestones in the history of Jaguar. It is also a seminal moment in the history of the automobile. This is a hugely important automobile and one of the most important non-racing Jaguar’s ever to be offered for sale.

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