Collection of Rare British Racing Cars Heads to Auction Block | Edmunds

Collection of Rare British Racing Cars Heads to Auction Block

Just the Facts:
  • A collection of rare British racing cars from the 1950s and early '60s will be put up for auction this December.
  • The cars come from the famous Ecurie Ecosse Scottish racing stable and they all have competition history.
  • Although auction house Bonhams has not released a sale estimate, this significant collection is sure to see spirited bidding.

LONDON— A collection of rare British racing cars from the 1950s and early '60s is being put up for auction by Bonhams on December 1. The seven competition cars and a transport truck were once owned by Ecurie Ecosse, the Scottish racing team that won two consecutive Le Mans 24-hour races in 1956 and 1957.

Ecurie Ecosse (French for "Team Scotland") was a private team founded by Scottish businessman and racing driver David Murray in 1951. Backed by a small group of amateur enthusiasts and operating on a shoestring budget, the team successfully competed with some of the sport's largest professional organizations.

In only 10 seasons, the team scored 68 victories, including the two at Le Mans, both in Jaguar D-Types driven by Ron Flockhart, Ninian Sanderson and Ivor Bueb. Other Ecurie Ecosse drivers included future three-time Formula 1 champion Jackie Stewart and his late brother, Jimmy.

Although Ecurie Ecosse was disbanded in 1972, it was re-formed in 1982 under new management to compete in the British GT Championship and European Le Mans series. This past summer, the new team scored three podium finishes in British GT competition, the third coming in August at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit in England.

The Ecurie Ecosse collection, currently owned by British businessman and auto enthusiast Dick Skipworth, includes some cars with serious history behind them.

There's a 1952 Jaguar XK120 roadster campaigned by Sir James Scott-Douglas, whom the Ecurie Ecosse Web site calls "a bit of a playboy, but he was a competent racing driver." Indeed, the baron recorded a number of well-placed finishes for the team in this Jag.

Another noteworthy Jaguar in the collection is a 1953 C-Type racer that was driven by Jimmy Stewart and future Le Mans winner Ninian Sanderson, among others.

A particularly desirable car is a 1956 Jaguar D-Type, one of the most beautiful and successful sports racers of the period. This short-nosed variant, without the distinctive fin, was driven by Ron Flockhart in his racing debut for Ecurie Ecosse.

A car that will undoubtedly tempt collectors is a 1959 Tojeiro-Jaguar that was campaigned by driver Barrie Williams. Best known for his innovative chassis, Portuguese engineer and designer John Tojeiro produced a number of competitive models for Ecurie Ecosse in the 1950s and '60s.

The car with the biggest name value associated with it is probably a 1960 Cooper T49 Monaco that was driven by Jackie Stewart during his climb to Formula 1 prominence. This model is a champion in its own right, having competed successfully against some of the best-known marques at the time. Cooper Monacos remain popular today in historic racing circles.

The Skipworth collection also includes a 1961 Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite, named for the highly modified Sprites that took the first three places in their class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida in 1959. This example was driven for Ecurie Ecosse by Ninian Sanderson and Bill Mackay.

Rounding out the competition cars in the collection is an elite 1962 Tojeiro-Buick coupe. Another collaboration between Ecurie Ecosse and John Tojeiro, this low-slung, rear-engined GT car, powered by a lightweight aluminum Buick 3.5-liter V8 engine, was a Le Mans contender and a forerunner to the Lola-Ford and Ford GT family of racers.

Perhaps most unusual is the 1959 Commer Ecurie Ecosse Transporter, a double-decker truck able to carry three competition cars and support a pit crew with a complete onboard workshop. This sleek transporter was designed by an aeronautical engineer and immortalized by Corgi in its classic 1:48-scale model. The vehicle was fully restored under Skipworth's direction, and is in running order with its Commer TS3 flat-6 diesel.

In a statement, Bonhams Group Motoring Director James Knight said: "We are delighted to have been appointed to handle the sale of this magnificent collection. It illustrates Dick Skipworth's dedication towards acquiring a definitive representation of perhaps Britain's best-loved motor racing team."

Although Bonhams has not released a sales estimate, the historical significance of these vehicles is sure to prompt spirited bidding among collectors of classic racing cars.

Edmunds says: We'll be eagerly awaiting the results of this auction of fascinating racecars.

Leave a Comment