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1955 Jaguar D-Type

Lot 889 | Passion for the Drive: The Cars of Jim Taylor

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1955 Jaguar D-Type

Lot 889 | Passion for the Drive: The Cars of Jim Taylor

Highlights

  • Among the finest, most original, trauma-free surviving D-Types of approximately 60 built
  • Originally delivered to British sports car legend, Colonel Ronnie Hoare
  • Formerly owned by Nigel Moores, Evert Louwman, and John McCaw
  • Equipped with its original engine
  • Finished in the original 'Special Blue' color, with original U.K. registration
  • Not just 'pure,' but in exceptional, well-proven running and driving order

Description

Chassis No. XKD 515
Engine No. E 2023-9
Gearbox No. GBD 55
Registration No. RRU 1

THE JAGUAR D-TYPE

The D-Type Jaguar is one of the most famous and successful British racing cars of all time, an automobile whose smooth, sleek profile is as instantly recognizable to enthusiasts as the line of a Ferrari 250 TR. It requires, as the old cliche goes, no introduction, so, to be brief: this monocoque-constructed, disc-braked, twin-cam beast was a paradigm-shifting design that revolutionized sports car construction and won Le Mans in 1955, 1956, and 1957, as well as many other significant races all over the world. Wherever you went in the mid- to late-1950s, if a D-Type was there, it was the car to beat.

CHASSIS NUMBER XKD 515

One of approximately 60 D-Types, 'short nose' chassis no. XKD 515 was finished in a beautiful 'Special Blue' and originally dispatched on September 21, 1955, to Colonel Ronnie Hoare, for whom it was registered RRU 1. A retired career soldier known to retain his military bearing, Colonel Hoare would go on to considerable fame and fortune as the owner of the U.K. Ferrari distributorship, Maranello Concessionaires, and for the extraordinarily well-prepared competition Ferraris run under his own name at Goodwood and other circuits. However, at this time he was still an enthusiast and free agent of sorts, not yet tied to Enzo. All indications are that in his ownership XKD 515 was not raced but rather used, in a sort of proto-McQueen bit of bravado, as a road car!

According to several sources, Hoare sold the D-Type, likely in November 1958 when it was advertised with 9,000 miles, to his partner Bob Gibson-Jarvie, head of the United Dominions Trust finance company, whose UDT-Laystall racing teams competed in Formula 1 and many other sports-racing classes during the 1960s with a 'who's who' of drivers, among them Stirling Moss and Masten Gregory. Colonel Hoare evidently missed the Jaguar, however, and subsequently repurchased the car, only to promptly pass it in 1959 to the noted club racer John Coundley. In Mr. Coundley's hands it was raced that year, in a brief career that saw several podium finishes, including 2nd Overall in the first Whitsun handicap at Goodwood in April, 3rd in the Sports Car race and 1st in the Formula Libre race at Silverstone in June, and 3rd again at Silverstone in September. Even Pat Coundley got into the act, winning the Ladies' Award in the North Weald Sprint!

Mr. Coundley advertised the car for sale later in 1959; it was again advertised in February 1960, this time by F. English, a dealership associated with Colonel Hoare. In June 1962 the D-Type raced at the 50th BARC meeting at Silverstone, driven by Bill De Selincourt, but was a DNF. It was again advertised by F. English the following month and apparently soon acquired that year by Nigel Moores, the colorful young heir to the Littlewoods football pools fortune.

Mr. Moores was an enthusiastic automobile collector, in particular of historic Jaguars, owning, in addition to XKD 515, other D-Types and an XK-SS. He was also an avid racer, both in modern competition and in the early years of the vintage category, who competed throughout Europe under the nom-de-guerre “Willie Eckerslyke” – a corruption of the British phrase, 'Will he? Heck as like,' meaning someone who was unlikely to follow orders from others. According to documentation in the file, however, XKD 515 was seldom-used in Mr. Moores's ownership, usually in historic meetings at Silverstone and infrequently in the hands of friends as a 'loaner.' Accordingly the car remained largely in well-preserved original condition, and in 1972 was recorded in the Jaguar 50th anniversary supplement to Motor magazine as having 14,000 original miles.

Moores's untimely passing in 1977 resulted in his automobile collection becoming entwined with his estate, and thus the D-Type and his other cars remained in storage, unseen, for over a decade. In 1988 the D-Type was finally acquired from the Moores estate by the extremely prolific Japanese sports car collector, Yoshiyuki Hayashi, then the following year was bought by renowned Dutch collector Evert Louwman. For some years it remained within the Louwman stable in pristine original condition before restoration was undertaken by the British racing firm of Ardua Engineering. Reportedly, in taking the car apart for the work, it was found that the car's aluminum monocoque and welded steel-tube subframes have never before been separated in its 14,000 miles of use. In 2000 the restored XKD 515 was purchased by the noted vintage racing car connoisseur, John McCaw, then in 2002 passed to Stanley Ross.

Jim Taylor purchased the D-Type in 2005, and thereafter, through much diligence, including contact with the Moores family, was able to reacquire and fit the original British registration plate, RRU 1. In his ownership the car has continued to make occasional show appearances, most prominently at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2006 and at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2017. It was also the subject of a cover feature in the May 2008 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car and an article in the April 2015 edition of Jaguar World. Most recently it was featured as part of the exhibit, “Racetrack to the Opera,” at the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport, Rhode Island.

Having never truly competed 'in anger' but rather maintained as essentially a daily driver and weekend racer, this D-Type remains remarkably well-preserved, having not been subjected to the abuse, and reconfiguration common to this model. Even when its one restoration was undertaken, many original features were carefully preserved, including not only the factory sheet metal, the chassis number plate, and the gauges, but all its original hardware down to the radiator, oil cooler, and fuel lines under the hood. Unlike many cars, it becomes more satisfying the longer and deeper that one examines it.

Of course, Jim Taylor has never been one to let originality stand in the way of driving a car, and since acquiring the D-Type as what he dubs 'my signature car,' he has used it on numerous C- and D-Type rallies. It has had only the lightest of tweaks for such use, including the fitment of a removable steering wheel to suit a larger driver, and a passenger seat modified to suit a full-sized adult so that a navigator can be comfortable on tour. Donnie Gould, who has spent much time behind the wheel, describes it as 'like a Swiss watch to drive, just unbelievable; both smooth and silky and rough and fast, it has unbelievable brakes and stops on a dime.' Other individuals who experienced the car were the late, famed Jaguar engineer and test driver, Norman Dewis, who helped to develop the disc brake with Dunlop, using a C-Type, and subsequently tested it in the Mille Miglia as Stirling Moss's navigator; Dewis's signature appears next to the chassis plate in the engine compartment. The great American racing driver John Fitch also approved of this D-Type; Mr. Taylor possesses both a signed photo of Mr. Fitch in the car and a video of the legend driving it at Lime Rock and discussing it thereafter.

Having recorded 21,584 miles at the time of cataloging, the car rides on new Dunlop knock-off wheels. It is accompanied by a history file, and four original wheels with the original Dunlop racing tires, including the spare still in the car. One of the least-used and lowest-ownership surviving D-Types, with its original engine, it is a genuinely exceptional example of its breed – one of the finest sports-racing cars that Jaguar has ever produced, a true world-beater that has survived very much as its earliest owners experienced it.

It is a car without excuses.



Contact

Donnie Gould
Senior Car Specialist

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