Penned by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer, the Jaguar XKD, or D-type, was not only beautiful, but one of the most successful sports-racing cars in history, turning a hat trick at Le Mans, claiming victory in 1955, ’56, and ’57. RM Sotheby’s offers the 1956 Le Mans winner, which was campaigned by privateer Ecurie Ecosse. As gauge for potential winning bid, last year RM auctioned a 1953 Jaguar C-type that came home fourth at Le Mans, final bid of $13.2 million.
XKD 501 should establish a new record bid for British cars. Along with Le Mans-winning Bentleys of the 1920s and the four other Jaguars to win at Le Mans in the 1950s, this car forms the core of British sports car racing heritage.
Piloted by Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart, XKD 501 competed alongside three factory long-nose cars. By race end, only 14 entries remained and the Ecurie Ecosse D-Type claimed victory, posting an average speed of 104 mph over 2,500 miles. The car later raced at Goodwood, Aintree and the 1957 Mille Miglia, before retiring from competition in June that year.
Since retirement, XKD 501 has been held by just three private owners and meticulously maintained. A part of an American collection since 1999, it won the Jaguar Competition class at the 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Offered for public sale for the first time in nearly two decades, the first Jaguar D-Type supplied to a privateer team and a Le Mans winner, chassis no. XKD 501 should generate lively bidding.