Sotheby’s, Gooding To Sell D-Types at Scottsdale Auctions 2018
Incredibly clean classics should dominate headlines at the annual Arizona auctions. Check out these two rare cats.
Hold your bowler hats, Jaguar fans: Two original D-Types, a ‘54 and a ‘56, head to auction in Scottsdale this January. With only 87 built, and the fact that the car that won the ‘56 24 Hours of Le Mans sold for $21.8 million in 2016, these could bring astronomical figures. Expect the first-year ‘54 to bring a mighty price while the ‘56 should push well into eight figures.
The D-Type represents the peak of Jaguar’s sports car domination. The British carmaker burst into that world with the XK120 in the early ‘50s. The innovation of disc brakes brought the shapely XK120C (the C-Type) to victory circle at Le Mans.
With Ferrari developing a fierce rivalry, Jaguar evolved their winner into the D-Type. That car got smoother body lines for reduced drag, notably in the shape of a rounder body, vertical fin, and wraparound windscreen. a 250-horsepower version of Jaguar’s twin-cam 3.4-liter inline-six. Despite the failures in 1954, the D-Type scored three consecutive Le Mans win from 1955 to 1957 in the hands of Jaguar (‘55) and Scottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse (‘56 and ‘57).
Sotheby’s 1954 Jaguar D-Type
In 1954, Jaguar built only five D-Types, all of them destined for racing duties with the Jaguar factory team. The first year cars all featured an aluminum and magnesium tub-style monocoque with steel subframes riveted on. In later years, the subframes bolted on for ease of maintenance among customer cars.
This particular car, chassis XKD403, raced at Le Mans in ‘54 with legends Sterling Moss and Peter Walker. Moss set the fastest top speed on the lengthy Mulsanne Straight at more than 172 miles per hour. However, contaminated fuel delayed the trio of works Jaguars and Moss retired his car after 92 laps with brake failure.
From there, the Jaguar team raced it a handful of times, then used it as a development platform for fresh-build ‘55 D-types. British racer Jack Broadhead purchased the car after its Le Mans test duties completed and Jaguar PR man Bob Berry raced it for Broadhead, racking up several wins in British national events. It suffered severe damage at a race in ‘56, but Jaguar knocked it back into shape with new steel subframes.
The car sold to Canadian pilot David Jacox in 1962, but it went into mothballs when Alistair Smith died at Mosport in 1963 following a freak accident with the car. It found new owners in 1980 along with a refurbishment. Light use followed and then yet another set of owners put it back to vintage racing 1999.
Few D-Types carry this much provenance–one of five first-year cars, driven at Le Mans by Sterling Moss, factory test bed–so we expect it might eclipse Sotheby’s $12M to $15M estimate.
Gooding & Company 1956 D-Type
This later D-Type doesn’t hold quite the sanctity in Jaguar racing history, however it does represent a clean, all-original version of a customer car. As such, it should have no trouble bringing the $10 million at the low end of Gooding’s estimate. Its owner history includes many major players in sports car racing, as well as Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant.
Peter Blond originally bought and raced this chassis, XKD518, for many years at national racing events in Britain. Gooding’s history comes across somewhat limited, but we do know this car raced at least from 1956 to 1959. The listing indicates all parts of the car are numbers-matching, a relative rarity for a racing machine.
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Curiously, Blond raced this bright red Jag — one of perhaps two with the color — against the ex-factory ‘54 up for sale at Sotheby’s. The ex-works D-Type typically got the better and likely will in the pricing game, as well. Nonetheless, with total production at only 87 cars ever built and with prices spiking, this will make a wonderful centerpiece for most major collectors.
[Photos: RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co.]