Amazing Belgian barnfind! Rare Michelotti Jaguar, Ferrari and more

Experts couldn't believe it when a Jaguar XK140 with Michelotti body was found in the barn of a deceased Belgian collector – and that's just one of the cars found....

Belgian barns hold their secrets it seems. In Ghent, Flanders, auction house Bonhams was surprised to find a Jaguar XK140 with Michelotti coupé body during the examination of a barn collection. It is believed that Michelotti made just two or three coupé-conversions on an XK140-basis.

The car belonged to the recently deceased coachbuilder and car collector Mr Schepens in the town of Ghent. With his car collection to be sold off, proceeds going to a Ghent animal rescue charity, auction house Bonhams was called in.

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Expert Gregory Tuytens explains: 'We found a Ferrari 308 GT4, a Series 1 Jaguar E-type, Wolseley, Citroën and a very rare example of the XK140.'

The car unearthed in Belgium is one of two or three known XK140s rebodied by Turin designer and coachbuilder Michelotti. Its chassis number – S 814 286 – has been confirmed to us by different sources as correct for this car.

The car was originally delivered to Jeanne Gaymard on 10 June 1955 as a cream-coloured, left-hand-drive fixed-head coupé with two-tone blue interior. Although Gaymard was Paris-based the car received a Haute Vienne licence plate (département 87).

'However, in 1957 it was involved in quite a serious accident, leading to extensive damage to the front,' says French Jaguar historian and author Bernard Viart. 'The body was beyond repair, so there was a need for a new bodywork. This was the reason it was shipped to Michelotti in Turin.'

In 1960 or 1961, the car received this new body. Only two or three XK140s would have received the same bodystyle, and Michelotti famously rebodied a crashed D-type in 1963. But there is more to this car then just the bodywork. It was delivered new with a C-type cylinder head and the side-exit exhaust from the C-type, both still visible in the pictures.

The car ended up with British classic car salesman Stephen Langton, where Bernard Viart inspected it in 1979 on behalf of French Jaguar-collector Roland Urban. Urban had a thing for ‘one-off’ Jaguars and welcomed the Michelotti XK 140 with open arms in his collection.

He even fabricated a story around it that the car at some point had been owned by legendary French actress Brigitte Bardot. This has been denied to us by the actress’ secretary Frank Guillou: 'Brigitte Bardot says she has never owned a Jaguar.'

Even without the Bardot factor, there remain plenty of interesting details making this one remarkable XK140.

'Mr Schepens acquired the car at a Brussels classic car show in 1999,' says Gregory Tuytens. 'It was in good condition, but he had decided to restore it. Unfortunately, he passed away just before he got to repainting the car. All the parts are there, ready to be reassembled.'

Bonhams Monaco sale

Bonhams will offer the car at its Monaco sale on May 13. There is no doubt that this is an original Michelotti-bodied XK140, yet Bonhams is cautious with its expectations, and the full history of the car is missing; only the Belgian documents are with the car.

Consequently, Bonhams puts an estimate of only €10,000-15,000 (£8700-13,000) on the Jaguar, although it could have a value that easily exceeds €100,000 (£87,500). Bonhams might as well have stated ‘no reserve’.

The other cars from the Belgian barnfind will be offered in the Bonhams Beaulieu Autojumble sale on September 1 in Hampshire, UK. For more details of both sales, visit the Bonhams website.

Pictures courtesy of Bonhams and Bernard Viart (historic pictures)

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