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1955 Jaguar D-Type

RM Sotheby's

1955 Jaguar D-Type
RM Sotheby's
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SH ID

23-0704004

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FEATURED BY SPEEDHOLICS

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In Stock

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United Kingdom

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Description

One of 54 production examples built

 

Raced in period at Southeastern US events

 

Restored by marque specialists during the 1990s

 

Desirably equipped with rebuilt 3.8-liter replacement engine with wide-angle cylinder head

 

Benefits from 21 years of fastidious care under current ownership

 

Handsome color combination of British Racing Green over black

 

Beautifully presented example of Coventry’s three-time Le Mans-winning legend

DESIGNED TO DOMINATE Few sports cars are as justifiably celebrated as the legendary Jaguar D-Type, which was engineered specifically to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Significantly departing from the outgoing C-Type’s architecture, the D-Type was notably one of the first sports racers to feature monocoque construction, highlighted by fabulous aerodynamic coachwork by Malcolm Sayer. The model was powered by a further development of the C-Type’s 3.4-liter inline six-cylinder XK engine, now featuring triple Weber carburetors for improved output. Later customer cars were equipped with 3.8-liter engines fitted with a wide-angle cylinder head, mirroring the specifications of the works racecars, and constituting the ultimate performance iteration of the D-Type. Debuting at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, the D-Type finished a narrow 2nd to a 4.9-liter Ferrari 375 Plus, and a year later it won the race outright with a long-nose body. Jaguar temporarily retired from competition after the 1956 season, but the D-Type continued to flourish in the hands of racing privateers, winning Le Mans in 1956 and 1957 for the Ecurie Ecosse. Coventry ultimately built 54 D-Type customer cars, allowing a fortunate few the privilege of experiencing the three-time Le Mans winner, which arguably remains the marque’s most significant racecar. CHASSIS NUMBER XKD 546 This beautifully restored D-Type benefits from 21 years of fastidious care under current ownership, resulting in a remarkably authentic example of Jaguar’s celebrated sports-racer. According to the combined data of Terry Larson’s D-Type Register, a certificate from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, and research by the consignor, chassis number XKD 546 was built in late 1955 with a short-nose body finished in cream paint over a red interior. Dispatched in December 1955 to Jaguar Cars New York, the D-Type was sold new to Guy Jackson of Chattanooga, Tennessee. During his fleeting ownership, the Jaguar was raced at least twice, with an unknown result at Courtland, Alabama, in July 1956, and two wins at Boca Raton, Florida, in March 1957 (with Jack Ensley behind the wheel). In June 1957 the Jaguar was sold to its second owner, Cornelius Kenslo Thompson of Alabama. The Thompson family campaigned the car at local events like the Courtland Sports Car Races in July 1957, where Thompson’s wife and son participated in two separate races before the owner roared to victory in a 25-lap contest. In late August 1957, the D-Type was entered at the Governor’s Cup at Mansfield, Louisiana, finishing as high as 6th, and at the race at Gainesville, Georgia, in early October the car finished 3rd. This flash of potential was followed by a victory at the Collier Trophy race at Fort Pierce in November. During mid-1958 the Jaguar proceeded to achieve three separate podium finishes, taking 2nd place at the events at Chester, South Carolina; Gainesville, Georgia; and Hammond, Louisiana. The Jaguar reportedly was involved in several minor collisions during these forays, but Mr. Thompson is credited with fastidiously conducting repairs as needed, which apparently included replacing the damaged head-fairing with a smaller one. By mid-1960 the D-Type was acquired by John Lumkin of California, and the car’s racing career continued at Pomona in June 1960 (13th place) and at Del Mar three months later (5th place). After briefly passing through the care of Los Angeles resident Mark Hurwitz, the Jaguar was sold through Alex Lucas in 1962 to Tim Considine, a Hollywood actor perhaps best known for his role on the television show My Three Sons. Lucas had retained Bob Carroll to remove the head fairing and install a new windshield, and period photographs on file demonstrate just how striking the D-Type appeared in this XKSS-style roadgoing guise. After painting the D-Type blue, Mr. Considine regularly drove the car to Desilu Studios, and during this chapter it reportedly appeared in the shows My Three Sons and Perry Mason. Unfortunately, around this time the original 3.4-liter engine suffered a valve failure, and Mr. Considine chose to replace the motor with a 3.8-liter engine. In 1965 the Jaguar was acquired by Robert Otten of Campbell, California, and eight years later he sold the car to racing enthusiast Chris Drake of Hertfordshire, England. Mr. Drake commissioned Lynx Engineering to conduct some refurbishment, after which the D-Type was enjoyed at the meets at Silverstone in 1982 and 1984, and during the 1984 Historic Car Championship. After 20 years of ownership, Mr. Drake sold the Jaguar in May 1993 to fellow Briton David Pennell, and he submitted the car to marque specialists John and Gary Pearson for a full restoration, with particular attention to preserving the chassis sub-frames (which were deemed to be original). Because the rear clip and the top surface of the front bonnet had been battered and stress-hardened during years of use, these sections were removed and replaced with new ones pounded on the original body bucks. The opportunity was also taken to install a new rear tailfin, and the restored coachwork was treated to a bare-metal refinish in British Racing Green. Following these important repairs, the Jaguar was driven to victory by British racing legends Richard “Dickie” Attwood and David Piper, who joined Gary Pearson to win the 1997 Nürburgring Historic endurance race. In 1999 the Jaguar was sold to the world-renowned Academy Award-winning actor and car enthusiast Nicolas Cage. Mr. Cage reportedly displayed the rare D-Type in the billiard room of his Bel Air home, and he commissioned Lynx Engineering to conduct a freshening of the engine while retaining Jaguar expert Jon Pollack to install new exhaust headers. In March 2002 Mr. Cage offered the D-Type through RM Auctions’ Amelia Island sale, and it was purchased there by the consignor, a respected collector based in Tennessee. By this time the car was fitted with a half-width plexiglass windscreen that covered the driver’s side only, and the passenger area had been covered with a racing tonneau. The consignor decided to replace the non-original engine with a fresh motor, retaining Leo Goff’s Memphis Motor Werks to build a new unit to proper specifications with a later 3.8-liter engine block (numbered LA 7568-9) and wide-angle cylinder head. Additional measures included the installation of new wheels. During the current 21-year period of ownership, the Jaguar has mostly remained in private storage, although the consignor made one exception when he campaigned the car at the Brian Redman International Challenge at Elkhart Lake in July 2003. In an effort to secure historic registration with the FIA the owner spearheaded a research process that involved correspondence with former owners, culminating in the issuance of an FIA Historic Technical Passport in May 2009. This beautifully presented D-Type is notably offered with the original front and rear body elements, which might appeal to the future caretaker seeking to steward an important car to a more original state. Documented with a JDHT heritage certificate, FIA HTP, and an invoice ledger reflecting work performed under current ownership, this outstanding Jaguar presents with characteristic flair, offering marque enthusiasts the opportunity to acquire a Coventry legend.