George Best Jaguar or a Chinese trike taxi

THE only way you could get something cooler than lot 40 that sold in the H&H Classics auction on October 13-14 is to go to the Arctic and get an Eskimo to build an igloo with a polar bear licking an ice cream outside.

George Best's E-Type Jaguar sold by H&H Classics at Duxford.
George Best’s E-Type Jaguar sold by H&H Classics at Duxford.

Recently we blogged about a motorcycle up for auction once owned by King of Cool Steve McQueen. That’s pretty cool. But lot 40… it’s something else. A 1971 Jaguar E-type V12 Coupé. ‘Used and enjoyed’, as the H&H cataloguer puts it quaintly, by footballing legend George Best.

In a world of ‘football legends’, Best deserves that accolade if anyone does. As the overawed cataloguer writes: “Contrary to folklore, not all Britons are besotted with the so-called ‘beautiful game’. However, it has produced a few stars over the years that were of such quality as to catapult them from mere football heroes into super-beings.”

Aside from a quite possibly besotted cataloguer, what else can we tell you about lot 40? An estimate of £40,000-60,000 produced a successful £43,000 hammer price (plus a 12% buyer’s premium) in the sale held at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

If that seems on the low side, a H&H spokesman said: “The buyer of Best’s E-Type V12 Coupe did well against its estimate, especially bearing in mind the good condition of its bodywork and excellent condition of its engine.”

Best took delivery of this brand-new blue bombshell at the height of his fame and the two were inseparable for three years until 1974 when he sold it. The car lasted longer with the man nicknamed ‘El Beatle’ than many of his romantic relationships.

And it was in this car that he drove away from Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground following his famous bust-up with manager Tommy Docherty, a moment caught on video here (see old film footage of George Best driving away from Old Trafford in the V12 E-Type from 2.45min to 3.00 min on You Tube).

A true thoroughbred, with many links to Jaguar’s multiple-Le Mans-winning D-type, the first version of the Jaguar E-type made its debut in 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show when it grabbed headlines all over the motoring world. Capable of 150mph, at the time it cost a fraction of what you would have had to pay for a Ferrari or Maserati. Enzo Ferrari himself gave it the ultimate accolade, describing it “the most beautiful car ever made”.

Some of the world’s most famous and glamorous people bought E-types, with Brigitte Bardot and Tony Curtis among the most celebrated owners. And Steve McQueen.

Jaguar introduced the Jaguar E-Type V12 in 1971 and was to make fewer than 8000 coupés – like the one owned by George Best. The company called it ‘the ultimate cat’, promoting its smooth ride with very little engine noise. The V12 engine produced 314bhp and rocketed the car from zero to 60mph in 6.8 seconds – in many ways sharing the same acceleration as Best himself on a good day.

Two Ferraris donated as part of collector Richard Colton’s larger legacy to the RNLI dominated the headlines at this Duxford sale after selling without reserve for a combined £8.53m hammer, but that legacy included Colton’s own specially commissioned 1969 E-Type, which also sold in the room without reserve for £135,000.

In all, the Duxford auction offered five E-Types. Apart from Colton’s 1969 3.8 Lightweight Roadster Evocation and Best’s 1971 V12 Coupe, there were 3.8 Coupes from 1962 (Lot 77: est: £80,000-100,000, sold for £112,000 hammer) and 1964 (Lot 19: est: £40,000-50,000, sold for £61,000 hammer) as well as a 1962 3.8 Roadster (Lot 54: est: £80,000-100,000, sold for £76,000 hammer).

The next H&H sale is on November 18 at Donington Park.

1970 Chuan Yie BC100 on offer at Richard Edmonds Auctions.
1970 Chuan Yie BC100 on offer at Richard Edmonds Auctions.

At another end of the scale – but still very cool in my book – what about bidding for a rare Chinese taxi trike that once plied its trade on the streets of Beijing? It is one of the most unusual motorcycles up for sale on October 22-24.

The trike, thought to be the only one of its kind in the UK, is being sold at Richard Edmonds Auction at Allington, just outside Chippenham. The estimate is not yet known.

Auctioneer Richard Edmonds said: “The Chinese 1970 Chuan Yie BC100c is something I’ve never come across before. Its owner, who saw them in Bejing when he visited 14 years ago, bought this one from a slum in the city after they were banned for being too polluting. He had it shipped to the UK, refitted, and then its first trip was to a Chinese takeaway.”

Ok, now for something REALLY cool also on offer at Richard Edmonds: a Sinclair Zike. Only 2000 of these lightweight electric bicycles invented by Sir Clive Sinclair were ever made. They were sold in 1992 but hastily withdrawn from the market due to lack of demand. This example is expected to fetch £300–400.

Actually, that last one is not cool at all. Aboutas cool as the Sinclair C5.