Exceedingly Rare 1-of-6 Jaguar “Long Nose” Races to Auction
The exciting world of sports car racing has enjoyed numerous eras of Le Mans domination. Famously there’s been the reign of the Ferrari 250s, the heroic streak of the Ford GT40, and more recently the unbeatable Audis. But in the 1950s, the team to beat was Jaguar and this stunning machine is part of the reason why—the Jaguar D-Type “Long Nose.” The first of only six “works” long nose cars produced in 1956, this D-Type Jag is about as rare as they come, and in January it will cross the RM Sotheby’s auction block in Phoenix, Arizona. The final bid will undoubtedly be seven (or more) digits long, and there’s good reason for it. The D-Types were an engineering evolution. RELATED: Take a Closer Look at this Jaguar D-Type "Long Nose"
The storied Jaguar D-Type first emerged in 1954 and developed upon the highly successful formula of the Jaguar C-Type race cars, which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, first in 1951 and again in 1953. However, instead of retrofitting the C-Type’s tubular space frame chassis for the new car, Jaguar engineers created a more radical magnesium alloy monocoque “tub” design. To that, the D-Type fitted Jaguar’s familiar XK straight-six engine, which now adopted dry-sump lubrication and a new four-speed gearbox capable of blisteringly high speeds.
In fact, in the early '50s Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis hit 180 mph in a prototype car on the Jabbeke Highway in Belgium. That tail fin in the rear is not just for show, it’s necessary. Jaguar took the D-Type to the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1954 for the first time, finishing less than two minutes behind the winning Ferrari. Revised long nose D-Types would win Le Mans outright in 1955, and again in ’56 and ’57 thanks to privateer Scottish race team Ecurie Ecosse.
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This car, chassis XKD 604, was the first built of Jaguar's six factory cars in 1956, and as a result it was used as a testbed for new innovations to the D-Type breed, including an independent de Dion rear suspension and mechanical fuel injection system. Consequently, it's said to be the only D-Type raced with an independent rear axle.
At the close of the season, Jaguar retired its factory motor racing program and this D-Type was sold off to the Ecurie Ecosse team, where it would remain in storage until 1971. Later in the '70s it made its way back to Britain, underwent a meticulous restoration, and in 1992 it was imported to the United States, where it has remained since.
Planning on bidding? With its extensive racing heritage, expect to pay dearly for this hen's teeth Jaguar. The auction takes place on January 28th and 29th.
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