The world's most comprehensive collection of competition cars from Scotland's flagship team that won two consecutive Le Mans 24-Hour races in the 1950s is among early consignments for one of the first sales to be held at Bonhams' newly redesigned and refurbished London headquarters.
Scottish businessman and amateur racing driver David Murray founded Ecurie Ecosse in November 1951. From a humble garage in a cobbled Edinburgh mews, operating invariably upon a shoestring budget, this proudly Scots blue-liveried team would take on – and beat – some of the biggest names in world-class motor racing, and would win consecutive Le Mans 24-Hour races for Jaguar in 1956 and 1957.
Had David Murray not crashed at the Nurburgring during practice for the 1950 German Grand Prix his now legendary team might never have been born. Backed by fellow Scottish enthusiasts he had founded Ecurie Ecosse as a cooperative syndicate, running mainly Jaguar sports cars expertly prepared under legendary mechanic 'Wilkie' Wilkinson. The team went on to earn both international and industry respect. It would count future three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart and his older brother Jimmy amongst its drivers, and would compete in both sports car classics and single-seater Grand Prix racing.
In just 10 seasons, Ecurie Ecosse scored some 68 victories, including its twin two Le Mans laurels, both achieved with its D-Type Jaguar cars co-driven by Ron Flockhart, Ninian Sanderson and Ivor Bueb.
The team was disbanded in 1972, but reformed in 1982 under new direction, with its drivers still competing in the British GT Championship and the European Le Mans Series.
The Bonhams Sale of Important Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia on Sunday 1st December will feature a private single-owner collection of eight Ecurie Ecosse vehicles.
Among highlights of the Dick Skipworth Ecurie Ecosse Collection are two sports-racing Jaguars – a 1953 C-Type and a 1956 D-Type. The Collection also features the iconic Scottish team's famous double-deck Commer car transporter. The restored transporter – famous to generations as subject of a much-coveted Corgi toy - is capable of carrying three cars (one inside and two on top) together with support crew, and even features an onboard workshop.
A well-known and respected figure in the Collectors' Motor Car fraternity, Dick Skipworth has – for many years – been a regular competitor in historic races and rallies. He has been virtually lifelong an ardent fan of Ecurie Ecosse.
The Dick Skipworth Ecurie Ecosse Collection comprises:
• 1952 Jaguar XK120 Roadster
Typifying the foundation of Ecurie Ecosse as a Scottish cooperative racing team, this XK120 was campaigned in period by Sir James Scott-Douglas.
• 1953 Jaguar C-Type
Raced in period for Ecurie Ecosse by the team's future Le Mans winner Ninian Sanderson, and also by Jock Lawrence, Jimmy Stewart (late brother of Sir Jackie) and Frank Curtis.
• 1956 Jaguar D-Type
A short-nose 'D' without the fin – the most beautiful of all variants - and a debut-race winner for the Scottish team driven by Ron Flockhart.
• 1959 Tojeiro-Jaguar
This unique Tojeiro-Jaguar is one of the most distinctive of all modern-era Historic sports-racing cars having been campaigned most prominently by Barrie Williams.
• 1960 Cooper T49 Monaco
Campaigned in period, including Le Mans, by Bruce Halford, Tommy Dickson and – most notably during his meteoric rise to World Champion invincibility – Sir Jackie Stewart.
• 1961 Austin-Healey 'Sebring' Sprite
The delightful and distinctive little Coupe, recalling the Scottish team's 1961 Le Mans foray with drivers Ninian Sanderson and Bill Mackay.
• 1962 Tojeiro-Buick Coupe
Designer John Tojeiro's ultimate Le Mans 24-Hour race contender, the subsequently V8-powered rear-engined Coupes proved to be forerunners of the 1963 Lola-Ford Mark VI GT and the Ford GT family.
• The 1959 Commer Ecurie Ecosse Transporter
Designed by aeronautical engineer Selby Howgate and immortalised by Corgi's classic 1:48-scale model – in fully restored running order with its unique bodywork by Alexander's of Falkirk and Commer TS3 flat-six diesel engine.
James Knight, Bonhams' Group Motoring Director, 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. The wonderful transporter typifies his commitment. It was discovered in need of loving revival and then restored at great expense to become the talisman and centrepiece of the Collection. We will be able to present the Collection, along with other important entries, in our just-completed, state-of-the-art flagship saleroom facilities. December 2013 promises to see another memorable auction at Bonhams."
The Ecurie Ecosse Collection was announced at a press call and reception at Bonhams' New Bond Street headquarters on Tuesday 3 September, at which both the Jaguar XK120 and Jaguar D-Type were on view.
Fine Malt Whiskey to celebrate the announcement
To celebrate the occasion, Gordon & MacPhail, custodians of some of the world's finest and rarest Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, supported the event by offering single-malts dating from Ecurie Ecosse's heyday. Michael Urquhart – Managing Director and a member of the family that owns Gordon & MacPhail – attended while guests sampled a Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1953 and Gordon & MacPhail Smith's Glenlivet 1955.
The new Bonhams building
Designed by award-winning architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the new Bonhams headquarters has been constructed on the site of the previous building in London's New Bond Street. Purpose-built, it has been designed to offer the finest auction experience within the world's most modern Sale facilities.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com