3 eye-popping Jaguar race cars that might break the bank
What Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Only 30 cars will cross the block at the December 1 event in London, and the least expensive of the bunch—a 1964 Jaguar Mark 2 3.8-Litre Coombs Replica Sports saloon—has a pre-auction estimate of $65,000–$78,000.
That’s not exactly a holiday stocking stuffer, unless you wear size 37AA shoes (that’s 36 the UK) and have an equally large bank account. But it’s a bargain compared to the three racing Jaguars that Bonhams is offering: a 1985 Jaguar XJR-6 World Endurance Championship Group C Coupe, 1959 Lister-Jaguar Knobbly 3.8-Litre, and 1993 Jaguar XJ220-C Competition Coupe, which all have identical estimates of $2,800,000–$3,600,000.
Let’s a take a look at each, in the order they will be sold.
1985 Jaguar XJR-6
Introduced late in the 1985 season, chassis #285 was campaigned by Tom Walkinshaw Racing. Originally powered by a 6.2-liter V-12 engine but it later received a 6.5-liter power plant. The XJR-6, wearing Jaguar-liveried British Racing Green, debuted with a third-place finish in the Budweiser GT 1000km at Mosport Park, Canada, on August 11, 1985, and won the 1000km of Silverstone in 1986 before TRW switched to the 7.0-liter XJR-8.
The XJR-6 isn’t as well known as the XJR-9 and XJR-12, but it was a competitive, attractive car and an important evolutionary step in the chain of XJR sports cars that culminated in Jaguar’s overall Le Mans win in 1990—and eventually the wild XJR-15 road car.
Much rarer than the Porsche 956/962, it will definitely stand out in a race grid of 1980s prototype racers.
1959 Lister-Jaguar Knobbly
If you want to experience vintage racing at the highest level, you can’t go wrong with this car. It has a jaw-dropping history, it’s eligible for premier events like Goodwood and the Le Mans Classic, it’s competitive, comes with lots of spares, and it’s downright gorgeous.
Renowned as one of the best genuine Lister-Jaguars, chassis #BHL 660 scored an incredible 29 victories and 53 podium places from 1958–63. Originally equipped with a 3.0-liter engine, it was later fitted with a 3.8-liter (prepared at the Jaguar factory) that makes 292 horsepower, according to Doug Nye’s 1980 book, Powered by Jaguar.
Considering how other Listers have performed at auction—a 1958 Lister-Jaguar prototype went for $1.4M in 2014 and a 1959 Lister-Chevrolet sold for $412,500 in 2015—the estimate may be a bit ambitious. But #BHL 660 is definitely a proven winner, so who knows.
1993 Jaguar XJ220-C
One of only four XJ220 Competition models prepared to FIA/IMSA Le Mans specifications in 1993, this carbon-bodied V-6 beauty won its first race at Silverstone and was also victorious in another event that carried a whole lot more weight—it placed first in the GT Class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Except that it didn’t. Even though it did.
Driven by John Nielsen, David Brabham, and David Coulthard, XJ220-C chassis #002 overcame a number of mechanical issues—including a 73-minute pit stop to repair a fuel leak—to capture the checkered flag ahead of Porsche. But the Jaguar was disqualified because it competed without catalytic converters. Tom Walkinshaw Racing filed an appeal and won the argument, but French officials determined the appeal had come too late and the victory was wiped from the record books.
Whether or not it’s officially recognized or not, we know this XJ220-C is a Le Mans champion. So does Bonhams. Which explains its relatively high estimate.