Jaguar begins producing "new" D-type racers, but is it ruining the auction market for its biggest fans?
Jaguar Classic has re-started production of its D-type race car, with the first prototype being shown today at Retromobile in Paris. Just 25 new examples of the D-type will be hand-built at Jaguar Classic Works, completing the 100 D-Types originally planned for production in 1955. The question that must be asked however, is whether Jaguar is sacrificing the resale value of the cars owned by its greatest fans for the sake of short term profit.
The D-type won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race three years in a row from 1955 to 1957, and is one of the most desirable cars ever to be built, so it makes sense that Jaguar Classic Works in Warwickshire should fulfill the factory's original ambition by creating 25 identical authentic models. Buyers will be able to choose between a 1955 short-nose D-Type and a 1956 long-nose bodywork version, and although pricing has not yet been announced, when Jaguar built nine XKSS models last year, it charged customers £1,000,000 apiece, with some of the customers getting their order in before the Brexit referendum and some afterwards, varying the price between US$1.3 million and $1.5 million.
The D-type is the third continuation vehicle from Jaguar Classic, complementing the six missing Lightweight E-types completed in 2014-15, which were also sold at £1,000,000 each, so it's very likely that the price for the 25 D-Types will also be in that vicinity.
As we reflected upon at the time, the approximately $1.4 million price tag of the XKSS was bound to have an effect on the price of the similar original cars at market, and though the XKSS was first shown at Retromobile in 2017, its American debut happened to coincide with the first XKSS Jaguar to reach public auction in a decade.
The last XKSS to sell publicly fetched $1,925,000 at Pebble Beach in 2005, selling with a spectacular provenance that included many successful in-period race starts in the hands of Dr Dick Thompson, "the flying dentist."
It was the 16th most valuable car sold in the world in 2005 and in retrospect, it was no surprise that with nine continuation models hitting the market for $1 million each at the same time in March, 2017, that the 1957 Jaguar XKSS for sale in Amelia Island might not fetch $13 million. It didn't, being passed in.
The new D-Types might already be creating a problem. The D-Type set a record price for a British car at auction when the car used by Scottish Racing team Ecurie Ecosse to win the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans was sold by RM-Sothebys at Monterey, 2016, selling for $21,780,000.
Since then, with the continuation XKSS announced in March 2016, three Jaguar D-Types have been to auction and all of them have failed to sell.
The first was auctioned in Melbourne, Australia, at Mossgreen's official Motorclassica auction. Motorclassica is Australia's equivalent to France's Retromobile or Germany's Techno-Classica. The D-Type auctioned was the Ex-Duncan Hamilton, Gerry Ashmore, Bib Stillwell 1955 model and it had an extensive racing history. The car had an estimate of AUD 7 to 8 million but could only muster a high bid of AUD 5.5 million (US$4.35 million) and it did not bring the hammer down.
The next D-Type was the 1956 Jaguar D-Type, formerly the property of Peter Blond, Jean Bloxham and Bernie Ecclestone, also with an extensive period racing history in the United Kingdom. It was estimated to sell for between $10,000,000 and $12,000,000 at Gooding & Company's Scottsdale 2018 auction. It received a high bid of $8.85 million, falling $2.15 million short of its lower estimate. The car is still available by negotiation.
Also during 2018 Scottsdale car week, a 1954 Jaguar Works D-Type went to auction at RM-Sotheby's receiving a high bid of $9.8 million, but fell $2.2 million short of the reserve price. Its provenance was spectacular, being the principal team car driven by Sir Sterling Moss at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans and with a history that included being raced by six Le Mans winning drivers. It was being sold complete with all the documentation but failed to meet reserve.
Hence with 25 continuation D-Types heading into enthusiast hands at £1,000,000 each over the coming 12-18 months, the marketplace for D-Type Jags cannot be expected to be any stronger over the next few years than it has in the last year.
The last time a D-Type sold for less than the current new D-Type price by Jaguar was at Monterey in 2002 when a 1956 Jaguar D-Type was sold for $924,000 by RM Auctions.
While we laud the move by Jaguar Land Rover Classic to begin making beautifully-crafted authentic Jaguars, Land Rovers and Range Rovers available to an appreciative public, the prices of classic cars at auction is subject to the fundamental laws of supply and demand.
The classic car marketplace is based on a known number of classic cars being available, and changing the supply will clearly sate the delicately balanced demand, and influence the price.