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1955 Jaguar D-Type: Bonafide Le Mans Champion Crosses the Auction Block

One of the Most Significant Cars Up For Grabs in Monterey

One the most significant vehicle up for grabs during the 2016 Monterey Car Week is this 1955 Jaguar D-Type, a bonafide Le Mans winner. This gorgeous roadster took the overall podium in 1956, claiming the British automaker's fourth overall win just one year after the remarkably tragic 1955 Le Mans.

This '55 D-Type led the charge for the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse racing team, wearing the team's fabulous Flag Blue Metallic paint. Teams participating in the 1956 Le Mans competition were given strict fuel rations, and cars with larger engines suffered. While the big Aston Martins consistently ran into fuel consumption issues, the ferocious speed of the Jaguar D-Types made up for fuel conservation efforts. Apparently, while the other big-bore cars were driving at maximum attack to keep up, the Jags ran the course "with 1,000 rpm in hand." The race was claimed easily by chassis XKD 501 presented here.

Unfortunately, following victory at La Sarthe, XKD 501 fell into a slump. No significant motorsports victories followed, and the car changed hands a few times, before landing in the collection of a Scotsman in 1970. It flourished under his care, with multiple rebuilds, refreshes, and "sympathetic" restorations. Eventually, XKD 501 moved on to a preeminent collection in the U.S., where it remained until now.

How much? To date, the most expensive British car sold at public auction was a sumptuous 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, claiming $14.3 million last year. This ousted a 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight, which sold earlier that year for $13.2 million. The aforementioned C-Type is a significant and historically important car to be sure, but carries nowhere near the pedigree of a certified Le Mans winner, let alone one that finished so handily at the hands of a revered race team. Look for a hammerfall somewhere well north of $20 million.

XKD 501 crosses the RM Sotheby's auction block on August 19th at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California.