Bernie Ecclestone wasn't always the billionaire Formula 1 boss and polarizing figure he is today. He was once a humble car dealer, and a 1956 Jaguar D-Type originally sold by the man himself went up for auction on Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Unfortunately, it never reached its reserve despite a final bid coming in at $8.8 million at the Gooding & Company auction. Another D-Type sold at an RM Sotheby’s auction in Scottsdale also failed to sell, with its final bid coming in at $9.8 million.
As for the Ecclestone car, the man never actually owned it directly although he did purchase it on trade from a Jaguar-Rover dealership in 1955. According to the D-Type's official auction docket with Gooding & Company, car dealership Henly's of Manchester had trouble finding a buyer, which led to Ecclestone's sale on trade. The car's first private owner was eventually found in the form of Peter Blond, a talented amateur racer who raced the D-Type across European circuits.
The D-Type is specifically an XKD 518, and it features twin-cam inline-6 with 250 horsepower, which is capable of muscling the car up to 170 mph. Jaguar spared no expense in the D-Type's development, which included a high-strength alloy monocoque chassis and many aviation-inspired engineering features such as the disc brakes and dry-sump lubrication.
The D-Type's chief designer, Malcolm Sayer, formerly an aerodynamicist, said the design was an exercise in "functional efficiency at all costs." Nonetheless, it remains a stunning looking car.
Blond campaigned the car in 12 races with its most notable finish being its top-ten placing in the Goodwood Trophy and victory at the Snetterton National Race. Following Blond's ownership, Peter Grant, rock band Led Zeppelin's manager, owned the car. The car traded hands multiple times before its current owner acquired it in 2008.
With a racing pedigree and rarity—just 24 other D-Types were delivered in the United Kingdom—the auction company estimated the car would fetch around $12.5 million. Sure that's steep, but only a couple of years ago we saw a different D-Type go for a staggering $21.8 million. Perhaps the classic car market really did peak some time ago.