A legendary Jaguar designed by Malcolm Sayers is the third most expensive car ever sold at auction – fetching an eye-watering £16,772,619 ($21,780,000).
MoneySuperMarket has published a list of 17 of the world’s most valuable classic car sales of all time, already the prestigious Jaguar D-Type sold almost a year ago has increased in value. According to the insurance comparison website it is now estimated to be worth £16,835,433, meaning its value has risen by £62,814 in less than 12 months.
A camera is strapped to the back of a D-Type and a microphone fitted to Mike Hawthorn so he can commentate his way around the circuit in 1956 – the result is a rare and revealing treat. Hawthorn delivers his verdict on the track, and on the driving standards.
250 bhp, 3,442 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine with three Weber 45 DCO3 carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle trailing links and transverse torsion bar, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.
28 JULY 1956-The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s most prestigious and legendary endurance race, starts at four o’clock in the afternoon and it’s raining—an inauspicious start to an already exceptionally dangerous motor race. With 60 years of competition history, the starting grid at La Sarthe is utterly jaw-dropping—legends like de Portago, Trintignant, Gendebien, von Trips, Hill, Maglioli, Behra, Fangio, and Castelloti are piloting prototype and production machinery with names like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Talbot, Porsche, Lotus, and Gordini. This is the golden age of motor-racing—the era of an unbroken Mulsanne Straight, mind-bending speeds, and supreme, life-risking danger in pursuit of eternal glory. This won’t be an easy race, and the men on the starting grid, about to sprint across the front stretch and jump into their cars, know it. After all, 49 cars will start the race and only 14 will finish. One man will lose his life.
One of the most stunningly beautiful cars on the grid was the formidable Jaguar D-Type, swathed in traditional Scottish blue with a white cross, the traditional colors of the Ecurie Ecosse outfit. Standing across the track is Ron Flockhart, one of its two drivers, an Edinburgh-born driver who might not have known it, but he was on his way to consecutive Le Mans wins. Quite the adventurer, several years, later, he would make two attempts at breaking the flight record from Sydney, Australia, to London, England, in a war-era P51 Mustang. The Glasgow-born Ninian Sanderson was also on hand, Flockhart’s teammate, and by all accounts his polar opposite. A practical joker with a biting sense of humor, but with the same spirit for adventure . . . a yachtsman, he raced regattas on the Clyde Coast of Scotland.
There they stand, two privateer entries in the competitive field, about to begin a 24-hour battle in conditions that Motor Sport Magazine described in September 1956 as “terrible, with rain and mist, and driving at all, let alone racing, was a nightmare . . . . How drivers can take a quick two or three hours’ sleep and then go on again defies explanation!”
Following their win at Le Mans in 1953, where Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt led a veritable parade of C-Types to three of the top four finishes, Jaguar faced a problem. It was evident that the limits of the XK 120-based race car had been reached, and that to remain competitive at Le Mans, a new car would be required.
While the C-Type had been one of the first cars of its era to employ a steel-tube space-frame, its successor was perhaps the first to claim unitary monocoque construction, with the body and frame combining for structural integrity. The successful and proven 3.4-liter XK engine was retained, but now fitted with triple Weber carburetors good for 245 horsepower. A dry-sump lubrication system was also adapted that reduced height, allowing the engine to be mounted lower, and correspondingly reducing the overall profile and coefficient of drag. It was clear that the design was effective when one of the new cars hit 169 mph on the Mulsanne Straight at the Le Mans trials in April 1954. As the previous Jaguar had been called the C-Type for “competition,” the new Jaguar was dubbed the D-Type.
The D-Type made its debut at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Rolt and Hamilton were tasked with repeating their victory of the prior year. However, all three of Jaguar’s team entries were plagued with firing problems, and two of the D-Types retired before the #14 car of Hamilton and Rolt was adequately sorted to contend. As 4:00 p.m. approached on Sunday afternoon, the D-Type and the powerful 4.9-liter Ferrari 375 Plus driven by Froilan Gonzales and Maurice Trintignant were far ahead of two Cunninghams, a Gordini, and the Garage Francorchamps’ C-Type. After all was said and done, the Ferrari had only a narrow lead over the D-Type, besting the Jaguar in one of the closest Le Mans finishes ever.
Six team cars were constructed for 1954, with chassis numbers in the range of XKD 401 through 406. In 1955, Jaguar began selling team and customer cars with 3.4-liter carbureted engines as the company gradually established the production minimum necessary to satisfy FIA homologation requirements. Fifty-four such cars were eventually built, with chassis numbers starting at XKD 501 (the first privateer team car). The factory simultaneously developed a version of the car for its competition purposes, most immediately recognizable by a longer nose.
Chassis number XKD 501 was the first D-Type production for a private team, sold to the Scottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse, and dispatched on 5 May 1955. A principal factory customer, Ecurie Ecosse was founded in 1951 and successfully ran C-Types through the early 1950s before eventually purchasing several D-Types. XKD 501 was liveried in the team’s signature colors with the St. Andrews Cross emblazoned on the front fenders. It was initially entrusted to driver Jimmy Stewart, brother of the legendary Jackie Stewart. Jimmy unfortunately crashed the D-Type twice during practice in May 1955. Each time, the car was returned to the factory for repairs.
XKD 501 was therefore sidelined during June 1955, when Jaguar entered three longnose D-Types at Le Mans and played an unwitting role in one of motorsports’ most tragic disasters. Three laps into the race, team driver Mike Hawthorn, who had just lapped a much slower Austin-Healey, suddenly turned into the pits. The surprised Healey veered left to avoid hitting Hawthorn, pulling directly into the path of Pierre Levegh, who was driving one of Mercedes-Benzes new 300 SLRs. The SLR careened into the crowd, forever changing motorsports—yet the race continued.
The following morning, while holding 1st and 3rd place, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from the race, and Hawthorn was left alone at the head of the pack, a full five laps ahead of the 2nd place finisher, the Aston Martin DB3S driven by Paul Frere and Peter Collins. The D-Type had won its first Le Mans, but at no small cost to the state of racing.
Meanwhile, XKD 501 appeared at the Leinster Trophy on 9 July, where Desmond Titterington took the car to 9th overall, and 1st in class. Ecosse driver Ninian Sanderson assumed driving duties at the British GP on 17 July, claiming 6th place.
Titterington returned to action in early August, finishing 1st and 2nd at the races at Charterhall, and then enjoyed two 1st place finishes at Snetterton a week later. Sanderson rotated in for a 1st and 2nd place at Crimond, and the two drivers teamed up for a 2nd place finish during the nine-hour race at Goodwood on 20 August. Another 2nd place by Titterington at Aintree on 3 September completed the 1955 season.
During 1956, rule changes mandated the implementation of full-width windscreens, and XKD 501 was so equipped while later receiving the engine from XKD 561 (engine number 2036-9), which the Ecurie Ecosse had acquired in the interim. The car continued to turn in solid performances during the first part of the season, with 3rd place finishes at Aintree and Charterhall, and a 1st and 2nd place at Goodwood on 21 May, while piloted by Ron Flockhart. Flockhart and Sanderson teamed for the 12 Hours of Reims on 30 June, where the D-Type model put on a clinical display. The two Ecosse drivers finished 4th, behind the three factory D-Types at 1-2-3, notably defeating the latest Ferrari TR Spider, and an F1-derived Gordini.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans was held in late July, delayed from its usual June date due to modifications to the circuit intended to make the track safer for both drivers and spectators. The Jaguar factory again entered three D-Types with longnose bodywork, though in the face of the latest rule restrictions, the cars were equipped with fuel injection intended to improve mileage (a new consideration in the wake of reduced fuel allowances). Two carbureted 1955 privateer D-Types were also entered, fielded by the Garage Francorchamps and Ecurie Ecosse. The Scottish entry, this car, was again guided by the team of Sanderson and Flockhart. It was here that XKD 501 turned in its greatest performance, but as Motor Sport related two months later, “everyone had to do 34 laps on 120 liters of fuel, which worked out at approximately 11 mpg, with nothing to spare for emergencies. Naturally, the small cars were sitting pretty while the Jaguars and Aston Martins, Ferraris, and Talbots were doing plenty of worrying.”
Certainly everyone was expecting a repeat of Reims, but it was not quite that simple.
Although Hawthorn in the factory D-Type took an early lead, on the second lap of the race, everything changed with an early accident and two possible winners were eliminated, followed by Hawthorn, who came in after only four hours with a misfire. With 23 hours, 30 minutes still to go, the complete Jaguar team was in trouble, two cars eliminated, and one struggling with a bad fuel line. From a Works standpoint, the race appeared lost and Aston Martin and Ferrari were poised to outrun the older D-Types.
The race report continued: “this left the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar to uphold Coventry honors, and right nobly it did this, for by 5 p.m., it was in the lead and for the rest of the race, it was a game of cat and mouse between Flockhart/Sanderson and Moss/Collins. While Flockhart was driving, he was able to keep ahead of Moss and after 34 laps, when Collins took over the Aston Martin, he made up ground on Sanderson, who took over the Jaguar. Then, the next 34 laps saw the position reversed and the result was that the Scottish Jaguar had the race under its kilt, providing they played their cards wisely. With David Murray in charge of the time-keeping and Wilkie Wilkinson in charge of the pit stops, they could hardly go wrong.”
Certainly, the Aston Martin didn’t quite stand a chance. The D-Type was so exceptionally fast that “Jaguar lapped regularly with nearly 1,000 rpm in hand” without significant fuel concerns, while the Aston had to be red-lined, gear by gear, entering the pits on fumes, simply to keep up. On occasion, Moss and Collins would even slip into neutral well before the end of the Mulsanne Straight and dart behind the Porsches’ slipstreams, all in an effort to save fuel.
By the race’s final lap, however, with just 14 cars remaining in the field, the D-Type had a seven-lap lead on Trintignant and Olivier Gendebien’s Ferrari 625 LM spider, and a narrow lead over Stirling Moss in the Aston. Swaters’ D-Type held at 4th place, and this is the order in which the cars finished, with XKD 501 claiming its definitive victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
XKD 501 completed 2,507.19 miles at an average speed of 104.47 mph, and a maximum speed of 156.868 mph on the Mulsanne Straight, good enough for 9th in the Index of Performance rankings. In doing so, XKD 501 upheld the D-Type’s dominance despite the adversity faced by the factory cars (to his credit the skilled driver Hawthorn managed to roar his way back to 6th overall). Following the amazing finish at La Sarthe, XKD 501 returned to action in Britain, with a 2nd place at Aintree and 3rd at the Goodwood Trophy Race, but these triumphs paled after its perfect performance in France.
In 1957, Jaguar retired from factory racing altogether and sold its latest longnose D-Types, with several cars acquired by the Ecurie Ecosse. As these 3.8-liter D-Types became the team’s focus, XKD 501 was only occasionally entered in various races, beginning with the Mille Miglia on 12 May, where the car retired early with Flockhart driving. Ecurie again experienced great success at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking 1st and 2nd place, while other D-Type privateers finished 3rd, 4th, and 6th. Even with the Jaguar factory officially retired, the D-Type was still proving to be a dominant force on the world’s biggest stage.
XKD 501’s time in the spotlight faded with these developments, however, and the car elapsed 1957 with a handful of DNFs, as well as 3rd, 6th, and 7th place finishes, punctuated by a final checkered flag at the Goodwood Whitsun Meeting in June. The car was essentially retired after June 1957, and it soon passed to Ecurie Ecosse financier Major Thomson of Peebles, Scotland. In May 1967, the car was demonstrated and presented at the Griffiths Formula 1 race at Oulton Park, driven by Alistair Birrell (a photo of which appears in Andrew Whyte’s 1983 book, D-Type and XKSS: Super Profile).
In October 1970, XKD 501 was sold to Sir Michael Nairn, a fellow Scot, and over the following few years was sympathetically restored with emphasis on retaining its purity and originality to its 1956 Le Mans specifications by Raymond Fielding, as detailed in the September/October 1996 issue of Jaguar World magazine. The engine head and block were returned to Jaguar to be rebuilt, while the suspension and brakes were restored with proper components. Parts were sourced from John Pearson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the D-Type, and a boyhood associate of the factory C-Type teams of the early 1950s. Most of the work was actually performed by ex-HRG/Cooper/Vanwall employee Dick Watson. Sir Nairn then used the car rather frequently, including presentation at the 1996 Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Silverstone Classic.
In 1999, XKD 501 was purchased by the consignor, one of America’s most respected collectors of exceptional sports and racing cars. The new owner retained John Pearson to evaluate and freshen the car as needed for vintage racing applications, where it was presented at the 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning the Jaguar Competition class and the Road & Track Award.
In May 2002, Jaguar World Monthly magazine ran a feature on the car by marque expert Paul Skilleter, where he described his spirited ride:
“With a 0–100 mph time of probably around the 12-second mark, the acceleration combined with the blast of the exhaust and the rush of air over the cockpit made it an exhilarating experience . . . The other aspect of a D-Type [that I noticed] is its solidity of build: sitting comfortably deep within those enfolding curves, you feel nothing vibrate, nothing rattle, nothing flex. Just sit in a D-Type and you know why it won Le Mans.”
Now offered from only its third private owner, XKD 501 checks all the proverbial boxes. It has won the most grueling contest in sports car racing, the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and is a centrifugal component of Jaguar’s three consecutive wins at La Sarthe. The Jaguar has been fastidiously maintained and serviced by just four caretakers, including a restoration by some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts. Almost unique among a run of automobiles that inevitably led hard lives, its history is refreshingly clean, concise, and incredibly well-known.
Chronicled in many books as a permanent part of Le Mans lore, this extremely important Ecurie Ecosse D-Type would crown the finest collections, notable for its history, rarity, and beautifully authentic presentation. Not merely a significant and markedly well-preserved D-Type, nor a star in the forefront of important racing Jaguars, XKD 501 can inarguably be held among the most historic British sports cars ever made. It is a legend among legends.
Following the UK general election the result of who will be running the country was quite literally hanging in the balance. We look at how this could benefit international classic car buyers looking to get their hands on a beautifully restored Jaguar XJS.
The one thing we can see for sure is the effect that the election has had on the exchange market. Before the election the pound was slowly rising following Brexit and the flash crash in October 2016, which saw a higher demand for British classic cars from international buyers.
Now the pound has dropped further again making British classic cars over 10% more affordable to U.S. and European buyers than this time last year.
The XJS may not initially have been the most popular Jaguar, due to some questionable build quality and the hard-lined style that took some time to be publicly accepted. We can now safely say it has left its mark as one of the greatest luxury grand tourers of its time, with Jaguar selling a remarkable 115,413 examples over a period of 21 years, making it a hugely successful model for the famous British brand and comfortably outselling its more famous predecessor, the E-type, by around 40,000 units.
With that in mind, good condition examples of these cars are ever becoming harder to find, after a check with the DVLA there are less than 900 XJS models left registered on the road in the UK, and around 2200 declared off the road in 2016. Most of these examples are in an unknown condition. However, KWE have proudly carried out extensive restoration work on over 300 various XJS models, covering over 30% of the cars that are still on the road in the UK today. We cannot account for the number of XJS models left around the world, but we would expect there to be a lot of good LHD examples in the U.S, especially in its dry states, and in Japan for RHD, this is being due to their more rigorous testing standards and the fact they do not use road salt, thus keeping rust at bay and bodywork in far better condition.
Next, we looked at the rising value of the XJS, especially in the convertible and cabriolet models. The Jaguar XJS is not yet valued in the hundreds of thousands of pounds like the E-type. But it is steadily rising year on year at an increasing rate. According to web-based Classic Car Auction Results, this is the time to get your hands on the next big thing:
“The XJS does seem to have begun a growth curve in recent years that suggest similar levels of growth to what we have seen in E-Types are to come, Charlie suggests: There are now far more cars selling for more than £10k, and the cars fetching over £20k are no longer just ultra-collectible cars or super low-milers. High spec, exceptional condition cars are now achieving these figures too.”
“With an approximate value increase of 50% in 10 years, Jaguar XJS values don’t need to get much higher before the annual value increase is in the thousands [of pounds].” He adds.
Why choose the UK’s leading Jaguar XJS Specialist? Well, we are probably the most experienced restorers of the XJS to better than new condition, and work hard to make the car exactly as the client desires rather than working to minimise time and cost.
KWE carefully select upgraded parts that are second to none, and their experienced specialist technicians have inside and out knowledge of these glorious cars. They have an excellent track record in keeping their customers happy, one of the ways they achieve this is by regular updates and photos on their exciting restoration journeys. KWE likes to keep you in the loop, whether you are around the corner or across the sea.
In addition to the above, they strive to make the process as hassle free as possible. With their international clientele spanning across the globe, they have gained experience in importing and exporting classic cars to wherever their customers are in the world, including Europe, Australia, Japan and the U.S.
As part of the comprehensive Sea Freight service they can offer, their trusted agent will;
Should you own or purchase a car anywhere in the world, they are able to arrange all of the above formalities in reverse, setting up and monitoring the entire process from start to finish.
So, if you’re based outside the UK, now is a very good time to buy a UK classic car!
Contact KWE today to discuss your requirements – whether that’s sourcing a classic car, shipping, or restoration.
Over the past 10 years, the value of classic and luxury cars, as measured by the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, has increased by 467 per cent. To put this incredible performance in perspective, this compares with a rise of just 111 per cent in the top end of the London residential market. Hedge fund managers saw returns of only 7.73 per cent over the same ten-year period. The index has reported a continued rise of 17 per cent over the course of 2015 alone. Due to this meteoric rise in value, classic cars are beginning to be recognised as an asset class in themselves, rather than just high-value collectibles.
Buying a classic car is clearly a smart investment choice, particularly as the stock market is volatile and interest low post-Brexit. At a time when there is little benefit to keeping cash in the bank, why not invest in an asset that will not only hold its value, but also bring you years of enjoyment? ‘Passion investing’ is increasingly expanding into the classic car arena; in the last 3 to 5 years, the volume of global purchases has exploded, driven by investors rather than casual collectors.
The best investment strategy is purchasing the ‘right’ brand of classic car. Only certain quality brands will hold value, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and, of course, Jaguar. Look out for cars with documentation and proof of ownership (we have a selection of classic cars for sale here). The car should be in investment-grade condition, or restored to a high standard – something that our wide range of services can certainly help with. Other strategies include choosing a car that was iconic in its time, or is known from TV and film.
Cars from the 1970s to 1990s are beginning to be seen as ‘young’ or ‘modern’ classics, ideal for long-term investment. According to current market trends, prices are set to rise considerably. The XJS, created in 1976 in the shadow of the E-type, quickly won over enthusiasts and achieved a long production run, appearing in numerous TV shows over the years, including The Saint. The car’s instantly recognisable lines have cemented its iconic status and ensured lasting appeal.
The XJS continues to be cited as one of the top modern classics, with numerous publications extolling its virtues. Classic Driver, The Sunday Times and AutoExpress have all published guides to investing in classic cars that recommend the XJS.
As well as the beauty, driving experience and nostalgia-factor of the XJS, the potential for returns on investment has also been widely documented. Classic Register named the XJS as one of the ‘Top 10 Affordable Future Classics,’ saying that ‘Many are now starting to recognise the significance of the XJS… which can only mean good things for value growth in the long term.’ Petrol Blog included it as one of their ‘Top Ten Modern Classics with Investment Potential,’ noting that ‘prices seem to have really jumped in the past few years and this is a trend that will almost certainly continue.’ Tellingly, Autocar has predicted that the XJS will never be cheaper than it is at the moment, advising: ‘Find a good XJS and you’ll have an appreciating classic. Old Jags are in demand.’
Clearly, there are compelling reasons to purchase an XJS now, as more and more investors catch on to its appeal and prices continue to soar.
If you need help sourcing a classic car or Jaguar XJS, or would like to discuss a Jaguar restoration project, then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how KWE can assist you.
Get involved in this XJS Convertible restoration project – what will you choose?
We’ve been busy beginning restoration on this XJS V12 Convertible, offered for sale. Hailing from Liverpool, it has very low mileage, and will be an affordable and cost-efficient classic car once our work is finished.
All we need now is you! Would you like to play a part in the car’s restoration specification – and perhaps become its new owner? We’re inviting our readers to suggest improvements, such as the colour scheme for the body paint and interior. This is a chance to build the classic car you’ve always wanted!
You can find some photos of the work so far here. As we go through the process of dealing properly with typical rust issues, we’re relishing transforming this convertible into a very strong and reliable XJS.
If you’ve got some great ideas for this Jaguar, we want to hear them – contact email@example.com
The roof is down, the wind is in your hair and all that lies in front of you is the open road and the perfectly tuned V12 engine of our latest Jaguar XJS offered for sale.
We’re selling this superb example of a 1992 V12 XJS convertible on behalf of one of our clients. It’s been given the full KWE treatment with our full suspension, brakes and steering renewal and upgrade package, providing that familiar smooth and comfortable ride you’d expect from all of our fully-restored classic Jaguar cars.
With only four previous owners, this low-mileage XJS has just over 40,000 genuine miles on the clock. Its exterior is matched by the quality of workmanship and time spent on its interior. Finished in Jaguar Solent Blue with a cream leather interior and American Walnut wood veneers, this superb convertible sports car is guaranteed to turn heads whenever and wherever it’s driven.
For a full suite of pictures please click here.
For pricing and detailed service information, visit our website here.
You can see the full range of our cars for sale here.
The Jaguar XK8 – an eventual successor to the XJS – is set to become a future modern classic, as its investment challenge starts to build momentum in a similar vein to its predecessor.
The XK8, although considerably different in terms of looks, actually shares a great deal in common with the basic XJS body and suspension. With this similarity comes comparable restoration needs, and KWE’s XJS expertise puts it in pole position for helping XK8 owners get the most out of their car. (more…)
A Jaguar V12 cooling system in good condition is capable of dealing with all conditions, contrary to popular belief, and does not need upgrading or fancy coolants and additives. However, it is relatively complex and more difficult to keep in good condition compared to the I6 engines.
A common problem is that the heater will not blow hot even with the engine up to full temperature. As far as the source of heat is concerned, there are two main likely problems: (more…)