The 1956 Le Mans-winning Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type of Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson sold at Monterey at the weekend for a record-breaking £16.6 million for a British car. A four-way bidding war pushed the price way above its reserve, hitting $21.8m at Sotheby’s auction, although the new owner is unnamed.
The D-type, chassis XKD 501, was the first to be sold to a customer team, David Murray’s Ecurie Ecosse taking delivery in 1955, but was crashed twice by Jimmie Stewart (Sir Jackie’s brother) in practice for the 24 Hours.
A year later it returned to take the first of two wins for Ecurie Ecosse, after famously testing on the ‘Dolphington Mile’ straight on the A702 between Edinburgh and Biggar, pre-empting Jack Sears’ 185mph Cobra test on the M1 in 1964. The first-ever Shelby Cobra sold for an American car record of $13.8 at the same auction.
Said to be the most original D-type in existence, still carrying its winning No 4 with the registration MWS 301, it has been in American hands since 1999, having competed in only a handful of races after its Le Mans victory, in which it outpaced the long-nosed factory cars, eventually beat Stirling Moss’s works Aston Martin DB3S by a lap.
The world record for a race car remains the $38m paid for a 1962 Ferrari 250GTO at Carmel in 2014. The 1955 Le Mans winning factory D-Type, driven by Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb, remains with Jaguar, which reputedly refused an offer for it of £30m.