Pete Waterman's 'Ghost' E-type for sale

Believed lost, one of the rarest Jaguar E-types ever built has now emerged from the collection of music producer Pete Waterman

Presumed dead for more than 30 years, this mythical one-off E-type has long been considered ‘the one missing link’ by historians and Jaguar devotees alike. Referred to as ‘A Ghost of an E-type’ by Jaguar enthusiast publications, the vehicle had actually been carefully dry-stored in music producer Pete Waterman’s care since the late 1980s and is now to be auctioned by H&H Classics on November 15.

Chassis number one and body number one, GPF 863J is the first left-hand drive Series III 2+2-seater ever built – but the fascination doesn’t rest there. Under the sculpted bonnet lurks a 4.2-litre XK engine, the only example ever to be fitted with this powerplant.

Mr Waterman has overseen the recommissioning of chassis 1W70001 (wrongly listed with various sources as 1S70001), with new paint in recent years, yet the Jaguar remains otherwise original.

A long-term enthusiast of the Jaguar marque (‘You can’t come from Coventry and not like Jaguars,' he laughs), Pete Waterman acquired the unique Series III via marque specialist Lynx.

‘The garage phoned me up when they knew I would be interested in any attractive E-type that came their way. They told me it was special, so I bought it. I never realised quite how special it was, then it sat in my conditioned garage for over 20 years under a car cover,' Waterman told AutoClassics.

‘It was actually the best thing for it, for the bodywork didn’t rust and all the mechanical bits that suffer with use never wore down. It’s nearly all original – the only bit I had to have replaced was the fuel tank, which had rotted out and was unusable. Everything else is as it was.’

Inspected by renowned Jaguar specialists XK Engineering in September 2017, they confirmed that the bodyshell resembled a Series III production E-type, but noted the presence of ‘4.2’ badging, a six-cylinder exhaust system and bespoke engine mounts. There are also ‘mystery’ drillings in the cylinder head, which experts believe may have been for an air injection rail.

The accompanying production record trace certificate doesn’t list the date of manufacture but does confirm that the 4.2-litre fabricated for ‘Jaguar Cars Ltd Experimental Dept’ was finished in Warwick Grey with red upholstery. The paperwork also highlights that the E-type was later ‘sent to British Leyland, New York, USA, to participate in engine pollution testing’. This adds to the intrigue, as the ‘matching numbers’ engine is seemingly a 9:1 compression ratio, compared to US-specification vehicles' 8:1 compression ratio powerplants.

‘I’ve only driven it twice since I bought it’, Pete Waterman explains. ‘It’s the only left-hand drive car I’ve driven and I thought – this isn’t for me. It should be owned by someone who will enjoy it more for what it is. I never bought it as an investment or to show it off, but by selling at auction I know it’s going to end up with someone who appreciates it.’

‘I never bought it as an investment or to show it off, but by selling at auction I know it’s going to end up with someone who appreciates it.’

Contemporary legislation ensures that experimental vehicles such as this are dispatched to the shredder. However, having escaped this fate, GPF 863J is now ready to grace another collection.

‘This car is rarer than any other E-type variant including the fabled Lightweight,' said Damian Jones of H&H Classics. Marque authorities suggest that just four or six Series III cars were factory-fitted with XK DOHC 4.2-litre engines. They were never made available to the general public’.

‘This car is rarer than any other E-type variant including the fabled Lightweight’

Marque authorities suggest that just four or six Series III cars were factory-fitted with XK DOHC 4.2-litre engines’, explains Damian Jones of H&H Classics. ‘They were never made available to the general public’.
 
As such, the ‘Ghost’ E-type is expected to fetch upwards of £150,000 when it goes under the hammer with H&H Auctions at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, on November 15.  

What is known about the ‘Ghost’ E-type?

Early brochures for the Series III E-type mentioned: ‘A new Jaguar Engine – the 5.3-litre V12 to supplement the 4.2-litre six cylinder XK engine’, alongside pictures of the latter. However, derivatives equipped with the smaller engine were never made available to the general buying public. It is thought that a maximum of seven cars may have been factory fitted with the XK 4.2-litre powerplants during development. This makes them the rarest production E-type variant of them all – including the Lightweight.
 
Published in the December 1980 issue of Jaguar Driver magazine, a letter from James Johnson, the 2+2's then owner of Brooklyn, New York outlines the vehicle’s early history:
 
'The car is in all original concours condition save the new paint job, carpeting and exhaust system I have had to restore. I have won second and third prizes in the Empire Division Jaguar Club Concours which I have entered. The only work needed on the car is to have the engine paintwork detailed.

'After purchasing the car I became interested in its history and wanted to confirm my suspicions that it was extremely rare. I wrote to Mr Bob Lewis at Jaguar Service, Radford who responded to me through Cindt Greico at Jaguar Rover Triumph in Leonia, New Jersey. It seems that this response had crossed the desk of Mr Graham W Gardener, Manager – Engineering Liaison of JRT in Leonia and he wrote to me personally.

'To begin with Mr Lewis confirmed for me that the car is what I thought it to be. Mr Gardener tells me that this is the Series 3 E-type 6-cylinder imported by JRT Leonia into the US. He further informed me that this car was used to obtain certification for the 4.2 litre engine for the 1971 model year. In addition he says that the York air conditioning compressor installed in my car is unique as Delco-Air compressors were normally used. In my quest for information about the car I phoned Mr Gardener.

'He stated that at approximately 10,000 miles he sold the car to a used car dealership in Queens, New York City. From there a man bought the car, ran it an additional 17,000 miles and died, willing the car to his wife. His wife being completely un-automobile orientated, wrapped the car in plastic and stored it in her garage for five years. She had met a gentleman in the interim and when he proposed and asked her to move out of the state with him she went about selling the car to me. Unfortunately, she wrapped it in plastic so the paint discoloured, mottled and peeled off with the plastic when she unwrapped it.'
 
Before being sold to the used car dealership in Queens, New York, GPF 863J was rumoured to have been the wheels of choice for a lady of the Whitehead family. Graham W Whitehead was President of Jaguar Cars North America from 1959 until his retirement in 1990. His involvement may well explain the distinctive New Jersey registration plate ‘JAG UR’.

Purchased from James Johnson by Jaguar enthusiast Godfrey Miller, the ‘Ghost’ E-type is understood to have retained its original tyres – something largely unheard of. Sold reluctantly to Guy Black of Lynx, the E-type then landed in Pete Waterman’s custody before hiding away for nearly 30 years.

A sticker on the windscreen indicates that it was still driven on The Garden State’s roads until 1986, and although not certified, the 53,800 miles shown on the odometer seems highly credible.

Read about Pete Waterman's struggle to choose between Jaguar and Ferrari, here.

For more information on the sale, click here.

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