Major auction records tumbled during the first day of RM Sotheby’s blockbuster Monterey sale, as a pair of historic racers became the most expensive British and American cars ever sold.
First up was a Le Mans-winning 1955 Jaguar D-Type, regarded as one of the world’s most significant competition cars.
Described as "the most important Jaguar ever made", chassis no. XKD 501 was driven to victory in the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours race by Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart for the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team.
The car was later campaigned at Goodwood, Aintree and the Mille Miglia, before passing into private hands in 1957, and had spent the past 20 years in one of America’s most renowned collections.
The Jaguar’s appearance on the block sparked an intense 15-minute bidding was between four determined collectors, before selling for $21.78 million. This final price marked the highest ever paid for a British car at auction, easily surpassing the previous record of $14.3 million set in December 2015, by a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato which sold at RM Sotheby’s in New York.
The second major record was set by a true piece of American automotive history – the first Shelby Cobra ever built.
Described simply as "the most important modern American car, period", chassis CSX 2000 was the original test car built by Carol Shelby and his team in 1962, and had remained in the collection of the Shelby family ever since.
Consigned to raise funds for the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust, the historic Cobra sold for $13,750,000, making it the world’s most valuable American car and beating the previous record of $11 million, set back in 2012 by a 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf / Mirage.
The sale’s opening evening also saw another auction record set, as a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider raced by legendary drivers Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby and Jim Hall sold for $5,225,000.
"Tonight’s records for any British car, any American car, and for a Ferrari 750 Monza demonstrate that collectors remain prepared to part with significant sums to secure the rarest, fresh-to-the-market automobiles," said Ian Kelleher, Managing Director, RM Sotheby’s West Coast Division.
"These outstanding prices achieved at our flagship sale are a reassuring sign that the market remains healthy and vibrant."