Bernie Eccelstone's old Jaguar D-Type sells for £3.98m
A rather spectacular D-Type in red
The D-Type, arguably the world's most iconic Jag along with the E-Type, was introduced in 1954 and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in a row in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Jaguar only built 17 race cars, 11 long-nose variants and was planning to build 54 road legal variants, and even though five D-Types were destroyed in a fire at the factory in Coventry, most of the cars are still alive, probably stored in an air-conditioned vaults around the world.
This gorgeous red model, in excellent condition, was just sold at auction with RM Sotheby's in Arizona, fetching $5.44 (£3.98m), just below RM's estimate as the auction house had projected a final selling price between $5,750,000 - $7,500,000 (£4.2m - £5.6m).
The D-Type you see here was delivered to Henlys of Manchester (a major UK dealer, now defunct) in 1955, one of only three examples in red as most were painted in British Racing Green. Ecclestone acquired it from Henlys and sold it to Peter Blond, an English racing driver, for £3,500. With Blond at the wheel, the D-Type raced at Snetterton, Aintree, Silverstone, Oulton Park and even Goodwood in 1956 and 1957. Blond then sold it to another racing driver, Jonathan Sieff, who made sure this car carried on setting lap times through the 60s and 70s.
Sieff sold it to the manager of Led Zeppelin, who then sold it a private American collector in 1982, who held onto it until 1996, when it was sold to the person(s) who just sold it through RM. Somewhere along the line, the car was repainted in British Racing Green and then repainted again with its original factory red. The engine is a 3.4-litre XK-sourced straight-6, producing 245 hp and mated to a 4-speed transmission.
The car lost some of its value over the years. In 2018, RM expected to sell this for around $10-12m (£7.8m - £9.43 at the time) but that didn't happen and even now, the car fell short of the $5.75m mark, if by a narrow margin.