High-performance automobile manufacturers eager for reputation directed the attention of their most gifted engineers towards the Le Mans GP d'Endurance 24-hours races in the 1950s. Well-

organized, often richly-endowed factory teams battled for supremacy in a series of epic battles. Jaguar's magnificent legend was built and established at Le Mans where their initial C-type specialized roadsters first won in both 1951 and 1953. For 1954 a far more sophisticated sports racing car was developed and became known as the D-type.

At Le Mans that year, the leading Jaguar factory-team car of Rolt and Hamilton ran a gallant second behind the mighty 4.9-liter Ferrari V12 of Gonzales and Trintignant. The winning speed average at Le Mans was 105.1 mph, but Jaguar quickly had their revenge a few weeks later when the D-types came in first and second at the 12-hours of Reims at an average of 104.55 mph. In the 1955 Le Mans, the Jaguar factory returned to claim first and third places and returned to Le Mans in force in 1956, knowing this was to be the last year that the factory would run a team of long nose D-types. Two team cars crashed in the damp conditions and the third was hampered by a misfire, however the Ecurie Ecosse team from Scotland saved the day for Jaguar with their short nose D-type. The car pictured, driven by Flockhart and Sanderson, was victorious winning the 24-hours classic; a feat the private Scottish team was to repeat in 1957 with a remarkable clean sweep.

This D-type hat-trick of GP d'Endurance victories against the strongest opposition sealed the Jaguar marque's charismatic image. D-types have been acknowledged ever since as one of the greatest classic sports racing cars. While the Le Mans race attracts the greatest attention, the D-type was highly successful both as a works entry and in the hands of private owners in innumerable races throughout the world. In addition to its outstanding and long competition record and capabilities, the D-type can also be used as a remarkably docile yet extremely exhilarating road car.

This car must be considered to be the most original, most authentic, most unaltered D-type in the world, and hence perhaps the most desirable. It will be the pinnacle of any collection, no matter how exceptional the other cars around it may be.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1955 Jaguar D-type Ecurie Ecosse
Years Produced:1954-56
Number Produced:77
SCM Valuation:$900,000-$1,200,000
Tune Up Cost:$250-$450
Distributor Caps:Uses magnetos
Chassis Number Location:Hard stamped into right front shock absorber mount
Engine Number Location:Stamped in right side of block above oil filter housing
Club Info:Jaguar Clubs of N. America, 9685 McLeod Rd, RR.2, Chilliwack, BC, Canada V2P 6114
Alternatives:Aston Martin DB3S, Ferrari 375MM, Maserati 450S

The car pictured was sold at Christie’s London auction on November 1, 1999 for $2,815,725. The D-type Jaguar was the spiritual, stylistic and structural ancestor of the E-type with its monocoque center section and engine nestled in a tubular frame in front of this section. More important than that, is the enviable record of these cars at Le Mans and elsewhere. These wins against relentless competition resulted in the D Jaguars becoming one of the most formidable and successful factory-built sports racers in the history of motor sport.

The selling price of over $2M surprised some of the punters and Christie’s experts alike. It reflected what astute collectors in today’s market seek in such cars: important competition victories, impeccable provenance, great originality and superb engineering. What is more remarkable is that this car’s Le Mans victory was achieved by a private team rather than through a factory effort, albeit with quiet, sympathetic support from Jaguar. The few sensible modifications added to the car for road use do not detract from its value in the least, and for some, may give it a further attraction as both a vintage racing car and eligible for international rallies such as the Colorado Grand and Mille Miglia revival. Not only that, even the most rabid exponents of red or silver sports cars would admit that the D was and is one of the very best looking sports racers ever to come thundering down the Mulsanne straight.

When this car was last sold in 1970, it brought a then record-breaking £10,000 ($23,900 USD). In the intervening years, interest in historic race cars and sports racing cars and participation in historic racing events, has grown exponentially. Demand for “real” cars like this D-type far exceed the supply. Did the new owner pay too much? The selling price with premium rose nearly $716K above the high estimate in the catalog, but that has to be balanced by the car’s credentials and the good chance that it won’t be on the market again for a very long time. For the successful bidder it was decision time and we think he made the right decision.-Dave Brownell

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