Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale is an exhibition of the best of British racing green
Two cars that took racing green to new heights: a Lister-Jaguar “Knobbly” that made the sports car so covetable, and a Jaguar XJR-9 that started a winning trend. And they could both change hands for millions at Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale on December 1.
Fifty-three podiums in six years. This Lister-Jaguar “Knobbly”, sporting ‘NBL 600’ plates, boasts astounding numbers from its five-year sports car campaign between 1959 and ’63.
It uses Jaguar power in a Lister chassis and ‘NBL 600’ was something of an evolution over the previous iterations.
Peter Whitehead, winner of the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours, bought this chassis (BHL 103) and put in large cooling vents behind the front wheel arches, replacing the existing Morris Minor steering rack with an XK140/150 rack-and-pinion. Apparently, its first outing resulted in a meeting with a garage wall – steering left pulled the track-rods right and vice versa – as the XK140 system was fitted upside-down!
Whitehead died in September 1958 while navigating a Jaguar 3.4 saloon at the Tour de France and the “Knobbly” was sold to Derek Wilkinson, who upgraded the 3-litre engine to a 3.8-litre Jaguar that produced around 300 horsepower.
So, in two seasons, the car managed 23 wins, 12 second places and six third-place finishes at various levels before Bill de Selincourt purchased the car to win the 49th Goodwood Members’ Meeting in 1962. Add a dozen more podiums and ‘NBL 600’s sporting ability becomes clear.
It’s no wonder that this “Knobbly” changed hands numerous times for historic sports car races after 1962. Shaun Lynn took care of it for a number of years, having purchased it in 2010, and Dario Franchitti gave it a public appearance at the 75th Goodwood Members Meeting in 2017.
A pivotal part of Lister’s sports car history, this “Knobbly” is expected to sell for up to £2,800,000 when Bonhams offers it at Bond Street on December 1.
For the same money, one could go for the 1985 Jaguar XJR-6 World Endurance Championship racer. Sporting a different shade of green, it was powered by a V12 engine and entered by Tom Walkinshaw Racing.
It made the XJR name an icon in the late 1980s.
Only nine were built – this one offered being the first. On their debut, the XJR-6s took the fight to the Rothmans Porsches at the 1000Kms WEC-qualifying race at Mosport in August 1985, qualifying third and fifth with Martin Brundle leading at one point – only to retire as the suspension couldn’t bear the load of the downforce.
Brundle swapped to drive the sister car – this car offered – to take third with Mike Thackwell and Jean-Louis Schlesser, behind the pair of Porsche 962Cs. It wasn’t a successful season by any means, but lessons were learned for ’86.
TWR became serious challengers for the 1986 World Sportscar Championship with Eddie Cheever/Derek Warwick winning the Silverstone round and taking third in the championship in the Silk Cut-liveried XJR-6.
XJR Coupés later took two Le Mans 24 Hours wins (’88 and ’90) and two World Championship titles (’86 and ’88), breaking Porsche’s firm grasp on sports car racing supremacy.
Elsewhere, a 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Short-Chassis Volante is just one of 37 made, and it could be sold for £1,600,000.
Le Mans by name, this 1999 Aston Martin Vantage V600 Le Mans Coupé is just one of 40 built, and it was built to celebrate Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby’s victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours in ‘DBR1/2’. The ‘V600’ package took power output to a stunning 600bhp from the stock 550bhp. The price tag is £475,000.