Race-winning Jaguar D-Type could sell for $7.5M

RM Sotheby's/Patrick Ernzen

Jaguar’s revolutionary D-Type melded an aluminum monocoque chassis with a stirring DOHC inline-six powerplant—and a gorgeously curvy body. The race car left no guessing as to its ambition, as its body was carefully sculpted to slip through the air. D-Types continued the racing success of its C-Type predecessors, winning the 1954 Sebring 12 Hours and taking second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans the same year. Jaguar followed up with the overall Le Mans win in 1955, and the Scottish team Ecurie Ecosse used a D-Type to take the win again in 1956. Two privateer D-Types from Ecurie Ecosse, along with a French and Belgian team, would go on to sweep the first four positions at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans as well, cementing the D-Type’s endurance racing legacy.

1955 Jaguar D-Type engine
Opening the tilt front end reveals triple sidedraft Webers on the 3.4-liter, 240-horsepower dry-sump engine. The entire mill is canted slightly to afford the low hood line that helped give the D-Type a small frontal area. RM Sotheby's/Patrick Ernzen

This example from 1955, chassis number XKD 518, is being offered by RM Sotheby’s at its January 2021 Arizona sale. The car’s listing suggests that perhaps its rare red-over-red combination was an attempt to woo potential Italian privateer racers who didn’t feel that British Racing Green was quite appropriate. No matter the reason, this striking racer was slow to sell initially but was eventually raced by Peter Blond, who purchased the car from Bernie Ecclestone. Blond raced the car in 1956 and 1957, winning club races at Snetterton.

The car’s provenance is well-documented and includes Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. At some point it was painted British Racing Green, but since 2008 it has been in the collection of its current owner and has been returned to its proper, original red shade. The single vertical fin behind the driver headrest adds stability, along with a bit of aircraft styling flair. Consistent with early D-Types, the fin was not on the car as it was originally built, being added at some point during its racing career to match the fin that Jaguar later added to its factory D-Type racers.

We spoke with RM Sotheby’s Ian Kelleher, who estimated this spectacular sports car will sell for between $5,750,000 and $7,500,000. That puts it right in line with our valuation for a 1955 D-Type in #2 (Excellent) condition.  Only a few of these early D-Types have been auctioned lately and even those without a racing pedigree, like the continuation cars, have sold for more than $1,000,000.

This period-raced British classic would be right at home at a vintage race or as the stunning centerpiece to any collection. With the red-on-red color combo, it may even fly under the radar at the Concorso Italiano, if only for a minute.

1955 Jaguar D-Type
RM Sotheby's/Patrick Ernzen
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