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 centre. 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 organisation in Italy and abroad, but in the end production was limited to just the prototype show car and one other, which was sold by Bonhams 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 The newcomer was, in fact, a face-lifted S-Type, the latter's Mark 2-style front end having been replaced by one reminiscent of the Mark X. A development of the hugely successful Mark 2, the S-Type/420 differed mechanically by virtue of its independent rear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-litre 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 and copies of invitations to its presentation at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show.