Massive collection of 543 classic British cars bought by Jaguar Land Rover

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The sweeping collection of British cars fills several warehouses | Jaguar Land Rover
The sweeping collection of British cars fills several warehouses | Jaguar Land Rover

The world’s biggest privately owned assemblage of classic British cars, with 543 vehicles amassed by an obsessive UK collector, has been purchased in its entirety by Jaguar Land Rover to bolster its focus on heritage.

The collection, purchased by the Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, was brought together and restored by James Hull, who made his fortune with about 50 cosmetic-dentistry clinics in Great Britain. The core of the collection is 130 examples of Jaguar history, most of them in excellent condition.

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We share the same objective as James to keep this unique collection in British hands.”[/pullquote]

These include a number of pre-war SS100 sports cars, XK120s – including a rare alloy-bodied example – XK140s and 150s, C- and D-type race cars, an XKSS, and a number of “saloons” (sedans on this side of the pond) ranging from early Mark models to more contemporary XJs. There are examples of Swallow Sidecars and coachbuilt Swallow Austin Sevens from the early days of the company that would become Jaguar.

Besides SS and Jaguar cars, the collection includes just about everything British: Morris Minors, Minis, MGs, Triumphs, Healeys, ACs, Austins, Bentleys and so on. There’s even an odd Corvette and a few other out-of-country examples.

Hull travelled the globe for years in his single-minded pursuit of British motor cars, he said. His automotive menagerie fills a number of large warehouses on his Hertfordshire estate.

Vintage aircraft and child-size cars are included | Jaguar Land Rover
Vintage aircraft and child-size cars are included | Jaguar Land Rover

Special Vehicle Operations, which includes the Jaguar Heritage division, intends to keep the entire group together, including the non-Jaguar cars, as part of the purchase agreement with James Hull, said John Edwards, managing director of Special Vehicle Operations commented.

“We share the same objective as James to keep this unique collection in British hands, and we are delighted this agreement secures their custody for the future,” Edwards said. “We look forward to continuing to work with James going forward as we develop our heritage activities.”

The original price tag for the sweeping collection was reportedly £100 million (nearly $170 million US), although Jaguar Land Rover apparently snagged it for somewhat less, according to published reports.

Hull said that in selling his collection, he was more concerned with it going to the right place to be cherished and maintained than he was about making a lot of money from selling it.

“Traveling all over the world to build the collection over the years has been a labor of love and a life’s work, so my primary motivation was not to get the maximum price but rather to secure the future of the collection in this country with the right custodian,” Hull said. “I have got to know Jaguar Land Rover well in recent years and they have borrowed cars from the collection for events such as the Mille Miglia and supporting Jaguar in China.

“They are the perfect custodians to take the collection forward, and I know it is in safe hands.”

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.