1955 Jaguar XK140 SE Michelotti Coupé
Coachwork by Giovanni Michelotti (unconfirmed)
UPDATE: study shows that this car has probably NOT been built by Ghia. The emblem on the car indicates "M AG Torino". See our Forum.
Chassis no. S814286
Engine no. E1016-8 (C-Type)
Gearbox no. JL 10504 (see text)
Chassis number ‘S814286’ was built on 25th May 1955 as a left-hand drive XK140 SE Coupé with normal factory coachwork. The Jaguar was delivered new in France via the French distributor, Charles Delecroix, to its first lady owner, Mme Jeanne Gaymard in Paris. It is the 286th left-hand drive coupé built, with body number ‘J4457’. The original colour scheme was cream with two-tone blue interior.
In 1957 the car was involved in a crash that destroyed most of the body. As the original body was beyond repair, the XK was sent to the famous Italian coachbuilder, Giovanni Michelotti, for re-bodying. Michelotti is said to have made three bodies for XK140s around this time; all three are different, making this car a one-off. Its high waistline and fastback styling would have been considered very advanced the end of the 1950s. In the course of the rebuild, the interior, instruments, and other details were all changed to Michelotti’s custom design.
With the help of experts Sebastian Hoffman (FSP) and Bernard Viart (XK140 specialist) Bonhams has been able to trace this car’s history. In 1979, Bernard Viart had inspected this unique Jaguar in front of Stephen Langton’s house in Kent (b/w photographs are on file) for Roland Urban, French Jaguar Drivers Club President and a collector with a particular interest in one-off Jaguars. During his inspection, he noticed that the engine had many C-Type characteristics, unusual, to say the least, for an XK140.
Roland Urban bought the XK140 and registered it in Haute Vienne, France (Department 87).
It also was reported to have been owned by famous French actress, Brigitte Bardot, appearing as such in many publications, though there is no evidence for this. The car later found its way to Belgium. We note that the bumpers at that time had been removed (though still with the car) and two small Marchal spotlights had been fitted in the front grille.
In 1999, the XK140 was bought in Brussels by the late owner, Mr Schepens, a Ghent-based coachbuilder (the magazine showing the Jaguar at the Brussels fair with the caption ‘This car was the property of Brigitte Bardot’ is on file). Mr Schepens was a Jaguar enthusiast who had owned an E-Type Series I Roadster and Series I Coupé at the same time in the 1970s. The Michelotti was his pride and joy.
Schepens registered the car and drove it for some years, and in the mid-2000s decided to undertake a full restoration, which by then had become a necessity. Sadly, Mr. Schepens passed away in 2016 at the age of 80, leaving the XK unfinished in its garage together with 10 other cars that have been there for many years.
When researching this very special Jaguar, it was discovered that ‘S814286’ not only incorporated some very rare competition components but also an extremely important engine block (‘E1016-8’) from Jaguar C-Type chassis number ‘XKC016’! Further investigation revealed that the Michelotti is fitted with gearbox number ‘JL 10504’ dating from 1952-1953 (prior to the XK140’s introduction). According to Bernard Viart: ‘It is extremely likely that this is the original C-Type gearbox of XKC016.’
It is probable that the accident that destroyed the original body also damaged the original engine, which needed replacing. It is likely, as C-Type ‘XKC016’ was crashed and retired from racing in the same period, its engine was removed and fitted into the newly rebuilt ‘S814286’. So, it would seem that the C-Type engine and gearbox have been in this car for most of its life - presumably from 1957 onwards.
Just like Brigitte Bardot, who was famously involved with many animal welfare organisations, Mr Schepens was very much an animal lover. Childless, he decided that his cars would be donated after his death to the Animal Rescue Centre Ghent, which is now selling this XK140 and will use the sale proceeds to continue the construction of their new centre. The other cars of the Schepens collection will be sold at Bonhams’ Beaulieu Sale in September.
This unique Jaguar is believed 100% complete including its already re-upholstered seats, original badges, gauges, windows, front grille, etc. but in need of further restoration.
The XK140 Michelotti is offered with a classic car magazine dating from 1999 depicting the car in Brussels where the late owner bought it; extracts from the book ‘Les Metamorphoses du Jaguar’ by Roland Urban; some period photographs dating from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; and Belgian registration documents.
Bonhams would like to express its grateful thanks to Sebastian Hoffmann, Bernard Viart, and Johan Dillen (Autogids, Autowereld) for their help with the research of this amazing discovery.
Source: Bonhams April 2018
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