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1966 Jaguar FT by Bertone

1966, the year of the Miura, also saw Nuccio Bertone fully occupied on other fronts. The Geneva Motor Show featured the presentation of two interesting new prototypes, one of which was the Jaguar 3.8 FT. The Turin manufacturer created a prototype for a four-seater coupé, Tarchini Svaj, the Coventry carmaker's importer for the North of Italy. The main aim of the project was to come up with a line destined to be sold through the Jaguar sales network both in Italy and abroad, and to this end, the considerable demands of the typical Jaguar client - traditionally very faithful to the brand - and the specific type of car usually produced, were kept in mind. As a consequence, Bertone worked with the idea of creating a classic design with original lights and roof, and the result is a design that overall exudes classic Jaguar style but with a more agile, dynamic, even aggressive feel. The wings are tight, up to the level of the rear roof pillar. From this point, a hint of relief creates a feeling of thrust and allows for the styling of the tail with its ample boot but very sporty feel. The most original part of the car is the greenhouse, its pillars, lights, and roof panels. While giving great light and visibility, it still retains a pleasing, welcoming, and discreet feel. The overall result is a car with a typical Jaguar feel, softened by Italian styling and given a tougher, deliberately sporty feel.

In 1966, the Jaguar importer for Northern Italy, Giorgio Tarchini, commissioned the legendary Carrozzeria Bertone to build a five-seater coupé based on the Jaguar 420 saloon which was displayed on their stand during the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. At this time, Bertone had just parted company with its chief stylist, Giorgetto Giugiaro, who had moved to Carrozzeria Ghia to head its design center. Giugiaro was replaced by Marcello Gandini, the man who would be responsible for such classics as the Miura, Jarama, Espada, and Urraco for Lamborghini, not to mention the Alfa Romeo Montreal, Maserati Khamsin, and Lancia Stratos. The 'FT' Jaguar would have been one of his first designs for Bertone.

The car was intended to honour the importing firm's founder, Ferruccio Tarchini, hence the 'FT' in the name. Initially, it was planned to distribute this limited edition model through the Jaguar sales organization in Italy and abroad. Still, in the end, production was limited to just the prototype show car and one other, which Bonhams sold at its Paris sale in February 2012.

Predating the landmark XJ6 of 1968, this very handsome coupé has that familial Jaguar look, with a Mk10-style radiator grille and a very luxurious interior. This particular car is based on the Jaguar 420 platform and was supplied in 'CKD' (Completely Knocked Down) form, to be assembled in Italy with Bertone bodywork. Launched in 1966, the 420 was the final incarnation of Jaguar's amazingly successful medium-sized saloon line that had commenced way back in 1955 with the Mark 1. The newcomer was, in fact, a face-lifted S-Type, the latter's Mark 2-style front end having been replaced by one reminiscent of the Mark X. A development of the hugely successful Mark 2, the S-Type/420 differed mechanically by virtue of its independent rear suspension. The latter had originated in the E-Type sports car and was first seen in saloon form on the Mark X. The 4.2-liter XK six-cylinder engine was standard on the 420, which incorporated other improvements such as alternator electrics, a limited-slip differential, and dual-circuit brakes.

First registered in Italy in 1969, this left-hand-drive Bertone prototype is presented in un-restored condition, complete with its original tan leather interior and dark blue metallic paintwork. Other noteworthy features include a 'Frigette' air conditioning unit, electric windows, and the four-speed/overdrive gearbox. Last used approximately eight years ago, the car has belonged to the Tarchini family from new and is sold on behalf of Giorgio Tarchini's son. The vendor informs us that the engine currently does not start, but it does turn over. Once restored to its former glory this rare coachbuilt Jaguar will surely be enthusiastically welcomed at the most prestigious of concours d'élégances worldwide. The car is offered with its original Italian libretto, copies of period newspaper clippings, copies of invitations to its presentation at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show.


Images: Bertone;;