The Jaguar D-Type that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1956 is expected to set a new record price for a British car when it goes under the hammer at RM Sotheby's Monterey sale in August.
Chassis XKD 501 was the first customer car team built and went to Scottish privateer squad Ecurie Ecosse in time for the start of the '55 season. It missed Le Mans that year, but placed well in other major events in the UK.
Then came its moment of glory at Le Mans. The three factory D-Type were expected to dominate with their new 3.8-liter, fuel-injected engines. But all were sidelined early on through crashes and a fuelling issue. That left XKD 501 in the lead. And, thanks to unburstable reliability, slick stops and the metronomic pace of drivers Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson, it stayed there. After 2,500 miles at and average speed of 105 miles-per-hours, it took the chequered flag, winning ahead of Stirling Moss and Peter Collins in the works Aston Martin DB3S.
Post-Le Mans, XKD 501 led a relatively quiet life as Ecurie Ecosse acquired a number of the faster 3.8-litre D-Types. It was entered for the Mille Miglia in May '57 but retired. Other entries brought a decidedly mixed bag of results. By June of that year it had passed to the first of three privateer owners.
The second owner had it sympathetically restored in the early Seventies. The third - the vendor - bought it in '99 and won several concours throphies with it.
XKD 501 is the only Le-Mans winning Jaguar of the Fifties to have survived in largely original condition. That makes it massively desirable and competition over it in the auction room will be fierce.
RM Sotheby's hasn't made the estimate public, but it is expected to break the auction price record for a Jaguar and for a British car. The Jaguar record currently stands at $13.2 million, paid last year for the C-Type that finished fourth at Le Mans in '53. A '62 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato set the British car record at $14.3 million, also last year.
Source: Paul Fraser Collectibles