Donald Campbell’s Jaguar XK150

Donald Campbell’s Jaguar XK150, estimated £150,000-£170,000 at Sworders.

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The classic sportscar, bought by the legendary British speed record breaker in 1958 as his regular runabout, is expected to bring over £150,000 as part of a stand-alone auction of classic cars. The car’s full history is confirmed by a Jaguar Daimler Heritage Certificate.

Campbell, the only man to hold both the land and water speed records, received his fixed head coupe from the Jaguar factory in Coventry in June 1958. Finished in his favourite ‘Cotswold Blue’, with grey upholstery, it came with numerous special factory options. It was used as his daily driver, although there is a rumour he did replace the engine – using the 3.4-litre power unit for a speedboat!

During his ownership of the car, Campbell raised the World Water Speed Record three times, the last time to 275mph in 1959. It was during his celebrations from taking the record that he met French nightclub singer and dancer Tonia Bern, and after a whirlwind romance, the pair married and took the Jaguar on their honeymoon.

Jaguar car magazine

Magazine photos of the Jaguar XK150 alongside Bluebird K7 were taken in 1958, at Regatta held at Lake Bourget, Aix-les-Bains, the Rhone region of the Alps in France.

The car was famously photographed alongside Bluebird K7, the jet-powered hydroplane in which Campbell set seven world water speed records between 1955 and 1967, in a publicity shot on the slipway at Aix-les-Bains on the Lac de Bourget in France while K7 was making some demonstration runs.

In 1963, Donald Campbell sold the XK150 (a total of 4445 of this model were made by Jaguar between 1957 and 1961) to fellow car enthusiast Michael Brooks who fitted it with a D-type cylinder head for racing with some success. Relatively little is known of the car’s history between 1964 and 1997 when it was acquired in a dilapidated state. The restoration work was carried out by the Norfolk Jaguar racing family Henry Burton and his son Peter, the interior work was completed in 2001 by G & G Sergent.

The current owner, an ardent Campbell enthusiast, purchased the car in 2013 from Chelmsford dealership J D Classics. Occasionally shown at rallies and club events, it was featured in Jaguar Enthusiast magazine following the 2017 Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb that celebrated the life of Sir Donald Campbell with Campbell family members and other Campbell vehicles.

The original numberplate, DC 7, was retained by Campbell but the car occasionally displays the plate for historical reasons.