An evocative 1955 Jaguar D-type race car with a history of frozen-lake ice racing in Finland, a historic victory in the former Soviet Union, and a troubling split identity that was made whole again, is headed to auction this month at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale.
“Chassis XKD 530 offers a tale that is surely as intricate and fascinating as any surviving D-type,” the auction house says in its catalog description.
The D-type is one of the headliners for the first sale of the newly formed RM Sotheby’s auction house, created when the venerable British firm bought 25 percent of RM, which is headquartered near Toronto. The auction takes place March 14 at the Ritz Carlton resort on Amelia Island, Florida, the day before the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Fully restored and documented, XKD 530 was one of 54 D-types sold to private owners, this one going to Finnish tennis star Curt Lincoln, who won a number of homeland races, including rough-and-tumble competitions with sharply studded tires on frozen lakes. The rugged treatment took its toll. In 1959, Lincoln sent the Jaguar back to Coventry, England, for an overhaul that included a new 3.8-liter factory engine and upsized Weber carburetors.
Lincoln sold the car in 1960 to magazine publisher Olli Lyytikainen, who raced it, usually with future international rally driver Timo Makinen at the wheel.
“The following year, the car experienced one of its most-publicized races, when Heimo Hietarinta finished first in the Formula Libre Class at the Leningrad Grand Prix on August 27, 1961,” the catalog description says. “Chassis XKD 530 is believed to be the only D-type to have ever raced in the Soviet Union.”
The car was damaged in a rollover crash in 1964 and repaired as an open, two-seater cockpit with full windscreen, roll bar and a shorn-off tail section without the distinctive fin. XKD 530 was sold in 1966 to English collector Nigel Moores, a historic-racing enthusiast who owned a number of D-types during his life.
But the car was pretty beat up from its hard competition life and the body had been modified to such an extent that it was deemed too expensive to restore, considering the then-diminished value of an obsolete race car. Moores opted to replace the body with a manufactured long-nose replica, keeping the original chassis components and fitting a new engine. The old body, original engine and transmission were later sold.
Historic racer John Harper obtained the discarded parts and around 1984 repaired the original body and mounted it on a new chassis using original Jaguar factory components with XKD 530’s factory engine and transmission.
“As both resulting cars were stamped with the XKD 530 chassis number, a controversy gradually emerged as to the proper identity of each car and as to which was, in fact, the authentic original car,” the catalog says.
The solution came when Jaguar enthusiast Gary Bartlett of the United States obtained both cars, one in 1998 and the other in 2002, and set out to return them to their former glory as the authentic XKD 530, according to the Jaguar C-type, D-type and Lightweight E-type Register. The two D-types with the same number were sent to premier Jaguar restoration expert CKL Developments in East Sussex, England, to be disassembled and rebuilt with the original parts coming back together as one correct car.
CKL carefully documented each part to sort out which had come from the original car, but still some doubts remained about the efficacy of some of the cars’ claims of authenticity.
“These doubts were put to rest when CKL finally remounted the repaired original monocoque onto the original chassis frame, finding that the original factory bolt holes, which were fortuitously not uniformly drilled, matched precisely, for a form-fitting connection,” the catalog says.
Since its restoration, XKD 530 has been welcomed at prestigious concours d’elegance events and vintage-raced extensively by its current owner, according to RM Sotheby’s.
The pre-auction estimated value of $3,750,000 to $4,250,000 makes it one of the most potentially valuable cars offered for auction this year at Amelia Island.
“The Jaguar D-type is one of the most iconic sports racing cars of the 1950s,” said Shelby Myers, car specialist for RM Sotheby’s, in a news release. “(XKD 530) has a terrific provenance, is incredibly well-documented, and boasts a unique racing record which saw it tear across the Scandinavian ice fields in period.”