A vintage Jaguar once raced in the Le Mans 24-Hours has sold for more than $8.2 million at a Bonhams auction in Monaco.
The 1953 Jaguar XK120C ‘C-Type’ Sports-Racing Two-Seat Roadster had been the subject of mystery and conjecture for decades.
Most experts believing it was a combination of a 1954 chassis and a 1953 body, both of which were competed separately in the Le Mans 24-Hours race by the Belgian Ecurie Francorchamps team. However, Bonhams’ specialist research revealed the car’s true identity.
"Following months of painstaking research, working with the best historians and notable marque specialists, Bonhams unravelled an intriguing mystery involving the unrestored Jaguar C-Type offered, correcting more than 60 years of accepted Jaguar history," said James Knight, International Group Director of Bonhams Motoring.
"The Jaguar was not at all a combination of the chassis from one car, the body from another," said James Knight. "On further inspection, we established that the it really is the 1953 Belgian-entered Le Mans car in toto, chassis number ‘XKC 047’ – still bearing its original, complete ‘K 1047’ body – but with its chassis number merely re-stamped ‘XKC 011’ by the factory before sale in January 1955."
This discovery proved the car was a matching-numbers example with a top 10 Le Mans finish in 1953 – a fact which would substantially increase its value to collectors.
Offered in completely unrestored condition, and described as "one of the most highly original 1950s 24-Hour-race sports cars still surviving anywhere in the world today", the car sold for €7,245,000 ($8,221,626), making it one of the most expensive Jaguars ever sold at auction.
"It is wonderful to see our team’s groundbreaking work help achieve such a result," said Knight.
Further notable results from the Monaco auction included a 1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix Two-Seater with an exceptional racing provenance which sold for €1,058,000 ($1,200,618); a 1991-1992 Benetton-Ford B191/191B Formula 1 Racing Single Seater driven by both Michael Schumacher and Nelson Piquet, which sold for €1,058,000 ($1,200,618); and a 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO Coupé which sold for €1,817,000 ($2,061,931).
In total, the Bonhams Monaco sale realized €15.3 million ($17.3 million).