Beyond its historic value, the unexpected discovery of a lost treasure, be it a Caravaggio in an attic in France or the bones of a king in a car park in Leicester, spurs a special kind of excitement.

These moments reinforce the persistent belief that anyone, anywhere, can push a spade into the ground or pry open a long-sealed door … and strike gold.

A dilapidated garage in Cheshire recently yielded just such a find: a 1964 Jaguar E-Type 3.8 Coupé, untouched for decades — but beneath the detritus, remarkably well preserved. Relatives of its deceased owner discovered the car, number plate ‘PRF 935B’, and turned to the vintage-car auction house H&H Classic for guidance. And on 12 October, this old E will take a star turn — mouse poo and all — at the H&H sale at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Series I cars, built between 1961 and 1964, are far and away the E-Types most prized by collectors. And because some 85% of Jaguar’s sports car production was earmarked for export, most to left-hand-drive markets, this car happens to be especially rare: It is one of only 1,798 right-hand-drive 3.8-litre Coupés to emerge from the factory in Coventry.

The late owner — the third of three — purchased the car as a gift for his wife in 1970. She drove it for a few years (the odometer reads 52,738 miles) before stowing it in the shed you see here. And there it sat. And sat. And sat. H&H reports this forlorn E, finished in red over grey leather, includes “its original hand book, warranty card and service book containing eight entries up to the 20,000-mile service in November 1965 at 20,207 miles and also five old MOT certificates, the last dated 1973/74 at 50,000 miles.”

H&H estimates this barn-find E-Type will fetch between £35,000 and £45,000 when it crosses the block next month. Restored to perfection, the car could command £165,000 or more.