This is the first production D-type, out of long and dedicated ownership,
unspoiled and still in its original form


XKD 509, the first "production" D off the line in 1955, has a long and interesting history. It was supplied new to New York distributor Chuck Hornburg, who sold it to Albert R. Browne of Menlo Park. At the time, its new price in the U.K. was £2,500 ($6,957).

After unsuccessfully approaching Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby to drive it, Browne turned to French-born veteran Lou Brero. The XKD-type Sports Racer appeared at Sebring, its British Racing Green replaced with a shocking new livery of matte dark blue stripes over white, unlike anything seen on a D-type before, but intended to make the car more visible in the night sections of the 12-hour race.

That ended with clutch failure after 58 laps, but later the car managed a quite extensive American racing history, including a second overall in a 150-mile race at Elkhart Lake, beaten only by Shelby in a 4.4-liter Ferrari.

By 1957, Brero had acquired the D and won at Stockton. After the car suffered engine failure at Dillingham Field, Hawaii, on the weekend of April 20-21, he lost his life following a fiery accident racing a substitute Chevy V8-engined Maserati A6GCM. The D-type passed to his son Lou Brero Jr., who admitted to a hippy existence, "sometimes driving the car along the beach in the sun."

In 1974, by which time the car appeared battered and in bare aluminium, he was persuaded to sell to visiting British dealer Brian Classic of Cheshire. Despite years of neglect and poor storage, 509 was complete and mostly unspoiled, though the body had been chopped about to fit a roll hoop. Classic entrusted the rebuild to his brother-in-law, historic racer Willie Green, and recalls many happy road miles in the car, plus some club race meetings at his local Liverpool circuit, Aintree.

About this time Nigel Moores became interested in the car and bought it. Moores was the nephew of Sir John Moores, founder of Littlewoods Football Pools [a soccer lottery], but maker of his own fortune in electronics, forestry, and the hotel business-and highly regarded on the historic racing scene. But Moores lost his life as a passenger in a road accident in southern France in 1977, after which his cars were maintained by his long-time mechanic Paul Kelly, some being displayed in the Lakeland Motor Museum and the Jersey Motor Museum.

The collection was dispersed in the late 1980s-by much of the team now working for Bonhams-but XKD509, Moores's favorite D-type, was retained for his son James.

At some point during its history, maybe around the time it was in Jersey, 509's original engine 2015-9 was swapped with that from one of Moores's other Ds, chassis XKD512. It now has its original motor back, rebuilt in 2003 by marque specialist Pearson Engineering, and block and head bear the correct number, matching the chassis data plate riveted to the bonnet panelwork. Gearbox and body numbers match as well.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1955 Jaguar XKD-type Sports
Number Produced:77
Tune Up Cost:$1,000
Distributor Caps:Uses magnetos
Chassis Number Location:Stamped into right front damper mount; plate riveted to hood paneling
Engine Number Location:Stamped in right side of block above oil filter housing
Club Info:Jaguar Clubs of North America c/o Nelson Rath 234 Buckland Trace Louisville, KY 40245
Investment Grade:A

This 1955 Jaguar XKD-type Sports Racer sold for $4,378,343 at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, England, on July 11, 2008.

“Please do not touch,” said the notice on the Plexiglas windshield. It could hardly have made any difference if the entire Festival had pawed it. Here was a well-used, even tatty D-type, its paint chipped and its upholstery cracked, which had, in one of the familiar descriptors used by SCM’s Paul Duchene, “given long and faithful service.”

Though panel fit is fair, paint is cracked off around external bolt heads and just plain missing around the cockpit edges, and the car wears a later safety cut-off and untidy wiring on the otherwise original dash. However untouched it looked, it had been rebuilt from quite a sorry state in the mid-’70s. Mechanically, it appears completely up to snuff.

An enviable record

The D-type Jaguar was the spiritual, stylistic, and structural ancestor of the E-type, with its monocoque center section and engine nestled up front in a tubular frame. And aside from being one of the most gorgeous shapes ever to thunder down the Mulsanne Straight, the enviable record of these cars at Le Mans and elsewhere, against relentless competition, resulted in the D-type becoming one of the most formidable and successful factory-built sports racers in the history of motorsport. Of course this Jaguar XKD-type never went anywhere near La Sarthe, being instead consigned to a life of modest races in the U.S. and even lesser ones in the U.K. But it is no less gorgeous.

What makes this car significant is that it was the first production D-type, out of long and dedicated ownership, and it is unspoiled, still in its original form, if not quite in body detail and color. When Green got the car, for example, extra driving lights and front cooling vents had been added, presumably in the U.S. The lights have gone but the vents remain.

Nigel Moores had owned and cherished several D-types, but after his death in a road accident in the late 1970s, this is the one his son James kept. So it’s been in the ownership essentially of two families for nearly all its life, lessening the chance of mysterious and indiscriminate “freshen-ups” between dealers that can ruin a car’s originality and therefore its intrinsic value.

Yet it wasn’t overly expensive. Tipped to reach up to $5 million, bidding in the packed marquee stalled at $3.9 million and stumbled for the last $100,000-not quite the “frenzied bidding” reported on various web sites after the fact. With premiums, the figure totted up to $4,378,343, a claimed world record for any Jaguar at auction, and Bonhams says the car went to a British buyer and will stay in the U.K. A couple of other D-types have sold discreetly and privately in recent months for more than this one cost, and industry specialists reckon it was well bought at the price.

D-types were never cheap

Few other D-types have sold publicly in the past decade; Bonhams & Butterfields sold XKD553, another ex-Sebring 12-Hour car, at Carmel in 2006 for $2,097,000. In 1999 in London, Christie’s sold XKD501, the ’56 Le Mans winner, for $2,801,606. You could crunch the numbers any time back to when Ds were new and cost a then-exorbitant $6,957, about the price of a decent house.

It’s worth a quick market comparison with the D’s ancestor, the C-type, which is not as competitive or sexy or desirable-but it is actually a nicer driver, for what it’s worth, Mille Miglia fans. And rarer, with 53 made against the D-type’s 77. Yet Cs appear to be a relative bargain for a car using much of the same hardware, at about $2 million apiece.

This XKD-type Sports Racer is an heirloom, and it is understood that the new owner bought it for its patina. Making it raceworthy would swallow an unknown quantity of money, between $20,000 and $100,000, depending on what was needed. Cosmetically restoring it is easier to quantify and would cost in the region of $200,000, interestingly putting the net cost of the car nearer to where it had been expected to sell.

You could argue against losing that patina, but all of its proper history was acquired before it was first restored 30-odd years ago.

I’d say this 1955 XKD-type warrants putting back to factory fresh (not concours) at whatever the expense, so the owner can sit tight and watch its value continue to climb as one of the last “original” Ds. He may choose to give it outings on high-profile events such as the Mille Miglia rather than actually race it, and no one would complain.

For a car with no significant history, this price was fair enough. Had it been a Le Mans winner like 501, then you could have added at least $1 million to its price.

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