Why the £15M Jaguar D-Type is worth the money

Why the £15M Jaguar D-Type is worth the money
Just think what you could buy for £15 million. A house on Eaton Square perhaps, or an Aston Villa defender if you’re Liverpool… The South African President, Jacob Zuma, spent it on house renovations last year, while the NHS spends it each year on taxis, apparently.

Or. You could buy an artwork that also makes noises, looks sexy, moves quickly and is famous.

Yes, I’m talking about the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type that is expected to fetch more than £15m at the famous Pebble Beach concours d’elegance next month.

If it makes the price, and all indications suggest it will, it’ll be the most expensive British car sold at auction.

Partly, this is a sign of the car’s amazing provenance; its racing pedigree is beyond dispute, with a big win at Le Mans in 1956. Crucially, it is in the most original condition ever seen: most competition cars from the Fifties and Sixties are ‘original’ in chassis number only; this one has its original body, chassis and engine in tact.

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But one cannot disregard, too, the times in which this car is being sold.

Classic car insurance

Classic car insurance from just £84 a year*

The classic car market, and classic bike market, have been going in one direction only for the past few years: rapidly upwards. 

While the markets are in flux and interest rates on savings are laughable, the classic-car market is a rock-solid investment (unless you buy the rusty Austin Metro I’ve got my heart set on. That’s just a purchase for the soul).

The joy is that, unlike bullion or stocks, or even artwork, classic cars are tangible, emotive, moving pieces of history, and summer is the best time to spot them. Yes, the automotive garden-party season is upon us. 

You can admire them polished, restored and prepped like show ponies, stuck on the golf-club lawn at Pebble Beach, or beside the water at Villa d’Este. 

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But you can also spy them away from their lofty pedestals, being used as everyday runabouts or at proper race events, where many of these thoroughbreds earned the stripes that have given them their incredible value today. 

It’s like being able to sit at Giverny, watching Monet paint the water lilies all over again.

Just look at the grid for the two-driver, hour-long RAC TT Celebration race at the Goodwood Revival each September: in 2008, the collective value of the grid was in excess of £85m. 

Last year, that figure rose to more than £150m, making it the world’s most valuable historic motor race. 

And the joy is that when the flag goes down, the drivers, who are quite often also the car’s owners, race the hell out of these beauties. 

Cars in action include multi-million-pound Ferrari 250 GTOs, Jaguar E-type Lightweights, AC Cobras, Shelby American Cobra Daytonas and Aston DB4GT Zagatos, all being driven side by side into corners at huge speeds because Goodwood is a very fast circuit.

I have a colleague with a priceless Aston Martin DB5: he used to do local rallies in it, until the gravel cracked the glass reservoir under the bonnet. But he’d rather see it living and breathing, out on the roads, for everyone else to see, and with a bit of damage, than kept in concours condition. 

And that’s the unique, untouchable value that classic cars have - they are the ultimate democratic investment: bought by the very rich, and displayed for everyone to see. 

You don’t have to buy a museum entry ticket or know the right people, or move in the right circles. 

You just have to drive about with your eyes open and your fingers crossed.

* £84 cover based on a car club member over 30, with no claims or convictions in the last 5 years, driving a car built pre 1977 valued less than £2,500, doing 1,000 miles per year and stored in a private locked garage.