Two D-type Jaguars, one shown here being used as a child’s plaything, the other an actual boy’s toy, both featured in Bonhams’ September 6 sale of sports cars and automobilia at Goodwood.
There were 35 British and Italian sports cars in this sale, stars of the show being a 1939 fully restored Lagonda at £710,000, followed by the 1956 3.8-litre D-Type, chassis no XKD 534, pictured here, which by contrast will need restoring to its former glory having resided in a barn in New Zealand after 38 years with the same North Island family.
Described by the auctioneers as one of the least used and lowest ownership examples of Jaguar’s supreme mid-’50s monocoque, three-times Le Mans winning, front-engine, sports-racing classic, XKD 534 owes its high price to its combination of ‘barn find’ status and its early racing pedigree, which involves some fine contemporary Antipodean performances at national and international level, followed by private enthusiast ownership.
Shipped to Wellington from the Midland’s dealership Attwood’s, it was race-prepared for local enthusiast Sam Gibbons to enter for his son Bob. He drove it in the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Ardmore Aerodrome in 1957. During the race leading British driver Ken Wharton fatally crashed, but Gibbons won, beating Jack Brabham into second place.
During the 1957-58 season Gibbons also won the Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy at Ardmore but at Dunedin hit a trackside post. The car was then sold to sheep farmer Angus Hyslop, who raced it in a programme of New Zealand events during the early 1960s and took the car to Europe.
During his ownership a new 3.8 litre D-Type short block engine was imported and installed. Ownership then passed to fellow New Zealander Simon Taylor who won the Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy in 1962. After one other change of ownership, it ended up in 1964 with Noel Foster in whose family it remained until its appearance at Goodwood this month. A great motor sporting enthusiast, Noel Foster acquired a number of cars but didn’t use the Jaguar for serious competition, reserving it instead for high days and holidays.
His son Noel pictured in the driving seat above recalls: “Dad used to commute to work in a Brooklands Riley but said it took him 30 minutes each way. One day he tried the D-type and managed to shave an impressive ten minutes off his time.”
“Dad used to get pulled over occasionally by the police but it was mainly because they wanted to take a closer look round the car,” he explained.
Racing history certainly wasn’t the attraction of the other D-Type shown here since this is a brand new model made by the private collector who consigned it. It would also be a tight fit for the average commuter being built to 2/3 scale.
The ultimate child’s car, it is a petrol-driven working model similar to the 1955 Le Mans winner, moulded in composite material on the monocoque principle and features pneumatic tyres, working head, rear and dash lights and comes with its own trailer.
It was certainly a cheaper way to get behind the wheel of a D-type, having sold for £11,000. XKD 534 clocked in at £440,000.