The 1956 Le Mans-winning 1955 Jaguar D-Type sold for $21,780,000 at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 as the most-expensive British car ever sold at public auction. This was the top result for any car at the Monterey classic car week auctions in 2016 and also the highest price ever paid in a public sale for a Le Mans 24 Hours race winner. It is only the seventh car ever to have sold for more than $20 million at auction.
1955 Jaguar D-Type, XKD501
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type, chassis XKD501, sold for $21,780,000, at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 classic car auction. This Jaguar famously won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans race, as an Ecurie Ecosse entry.
The $21,780,000 paid for the 1955 Jaguar D-Type set several new records for a car sold at public auction including:
- Most-expensive British car ever – previously $14,300,000 paid for a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato at RM Sotheby’s 2015 New York sale.
- Most-expensive Jaguar ever – previously $13,200,000 paid for a 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight at RM Sotheby’s 2015 Monterey sale. (This car finished fourth at Le Mans in 1953.)
- Most-expensive Le Mans Winner ever – previously $10,120,000 for the 1982 Porsche 956 at Gooding Pebble Beach 2015. (As with Jaguar XK501, this Porsche also only won the Le Mans race the year after its debut.)
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type, chassis XKD501, is the seventh most-expensive car ever sold at public auction and also only the seventh car ever to achieve a result above $20 million. It is the second most-expensive car thus far sold in 2016.
Note: The British record was moved to $22,500,000 by a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 sold by RM Sotheby’s at Monterey 2017.
1955 Jaguar D-Type at Le Mans 1956
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type, chassis XKD501, was the first D-Type (of 54) Jaguar produced for sale to private teams. It was bought by the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse racing team but two crashes by Jimmy Stuart, brother of the more famous Jackie, meant that the car missed the ill-fated 1955 Le Mans race won by Mike Hawthorn in a works D-Type.
Chassis XKD501 had successes at lesser races in 1955 and 1956 but all these was overshadowed by overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1956. In this race, all three works Jaguars suffered mechanical issues or crashes with the Ecurie Ecosse car driven by Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhardt taking overall victory ahead a of Stirling Moss and Peter Collins in an Aston Martin DB3S. A Ferrai 625 LM finished third with a second privateer D-Type for the Equipe Nationale Belge finishing fourth. The Works Jaguar D-Type driven by Mike Hawthorne and Ivor Bueb finished sixth – 20 laps behind XKD501.
Although Ecurie Ecosse took first and second place finishes at Le Mans in 1957, this was in different Jaguar D-Type cars. The aging chassis XKD501 was only entered into a few races after its Le Mans victory and only achieved moderate success.
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type, chassis XKD501, was retired from racing by mid-1957. During the 1970s the car was restored to its 1956 Le Mans race winning specification and not surprisingly retained its Ecurie Ecosse livery with St Andrew’s cross detailing.
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type, chassis XKD501, is considered the only Le Mans winning Jaguar C or D-Type to have survived intact and essentially in its original race-winning form.