The ex-Geoff Mansell,1955 HWM-Jaguar Sports Racing Two-Seater

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Lot 525
The ex-Geoff Mansell, 1955 HWM-Jaguar Sports Racing Two-Seater
Registration no. XPA 748

£ 250,000 - 300,000
US$ 340,000 - 410,000
The ex-Geoff Mansell
1955 HWM-Jaguar Sports Racing Two-Seater
Registration no. XPA 748
This very well known and highly successful HWM-Jaguar is a classic sports-racing car which has achieved considerable success in recent Historic racing events. It has been one of the regular stars of the Goodwood Revival Meetings – finishing in the top five in the past two years - and is offered here in good running order, essentially ready-to-race after a new owner’s suitable individual-standard preparation. The car won in the Gentleman Drivers’ series in its first year and has placed consistently well within the BRDC 1950s sports car competitions. It has also become a familiar entry in Vintage Sports Car Club events and excelled in the Trofeo Baleares event two years ago.

The 3.4-litre Jaguar XK-series 6-cylinder engine has just been rebuilt by specialist Tim Waddington, and it is equipped – as pioneered in period by HWM – with a rack of three twin-choke Weber carburettors. We understand that a spare Jaguar racing engine may be made available by separate private treaty.

Hersham & Walton Motors was the car dealership – based in New Zealand Avenue – Walton-upon-Thames, created by business partners George Abecassis and John Heath. They did more than almost any other motor racing personalities to pioneer the British works teams’ way into Europe after World War 2. Running their original team of dual-purpose Formula 2/sports-racing HWM cars on a virtual shoestring they first made those three initials a respected name in European racing circles during the 1950 season, and they launched with their programme the glittering international racing careers of such young drivers as Stirling Moss and Peter Collins.

As their Alta-engined Formula 2 single-seater cars struggled to repeat the successes of their ‘1 1/2-seat’ 1950 predecessors through 1951-54, Abecassis and Heath began to look for alternative methods by which their équipe could earn its keep. Private owner Oscar More had installed a 3.4-litre Jaguar XK 6-cylinder engine in one of the old 1950 team cars, and in the middle of the 1953 racing season a works HWM-Jaguar sports-racing car emerged, using simple aluminium bodywork fashioned by Leacroft of Egham. The prototype HWM-Jaguar in original form bore George Abecassis’s famous registration ‘HWM 1’ and in 1954 – driven by Abecassis – it carried the great Denis Jenkinson in his first experience of Italy’s mighty Mille Miglia 1,000-mile road race. George Abecassis recalled: "The new sports car was a revelation to me, because by driving it to meetings on the road we could save entirely upon the huge expense of having to use a transporter! It was good business, it was good fun, and it also kept me in practice driving the car for literally thousands of miles…".

A sister works HWM-Jaguar was built, registered ‘VPA 8’, followed by a tiny handful of customer cars – both Jaguar and Cadillac V8 powered - of which this machine – ‘XPA 748’ – is a fine example.

It was built new by HW Motors at New Zealand Avenue for Midlands-based enthusiast Geoff Mansell. He had ordered a car for combination road and competition use. It was UK road-registered ‘XPA 748’ and made its competition debut in Mr Mansell’s hands in the July 24, 1955, Prescott hill-climb. The car passed subsequently to Lord Lilford, then to Sir Jeremy Boles – sometime Connaught entrant for Mike Hawthorn’s friend and cadet Jaguar works team driver Don Beauman – after which ‘XPA 748’ passed on through the hands of "an RAF officer at Scampton" to Gerhard Krasner.

Mr Krasner owned the car during the early 1960s, and subsequently sold it to classic car enthusiast Anthony Statham – who unfortunately crashed the car rather heavily at Silverstone’s Maggotts Curve during a minor club meeting there. The HWM-Jaguar’s chassis frame was then straightened by specialists at Rubery Owen – owners of the BRM Formula 1 operation – and the car then passed to Paul Craigen of Henley for complete restoration.

In 1979 ‘XPA 748’ was acquired by French Jaguar sports car collector Dr Philippe Renault, and its rebuild was completed for him by prominent British specialist and Historic racing star driver, John Harper.

The car passed into its present ownership in the 1990s, having been equipped with disc brakes in place of its original drum-type system, the components of which have been retained amongst the available spares and are also offered in company with this Lot. This is an important feature of this sale, as with its original drum brakes re-installed ‘XPA 748’ would provide terrific potential in the increasing number of events organised for ‘drum-brake-only’ Historic sports-racing cars.

In period the HWM-Jaguar works cars not only contested the 1,000-mile round-Italy Mille road race in 1955, they also ran as a team in the gruellingly hot and high-speed Reims 12-Hours classic in northern France, in Oporto, Portugal, and at circuits as widely far-flung as Hedemora, Sweden and Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia! The works team also contested the classical Goodwood 9-Hours race here in West Sussex.

Some idea of the HWM-Jaguar experience can be gained from Denis Jenkinson’s ‘Motor Sport’ magazine account of his ride in Abecassis’s prototype car in the 1954 Mille Miglia: "Once clear of Brescia the road straightened up and 5,000 and more was showing on the rev counter in top as commonly as the average car shows 50mph on its speedometer. It was not long before we saw a spec in the distance…number 612 (who had started just before us) and at nearly 130mph we went past….away from Verona 5,200 came up and after a while I had the feeling of being satisfied with having done 142mph on the open road and was quite prepared for Abecassis to ease back to a sedate 100…but for mile after mile we cruised at 142mph…"

This well-proven, well-developed and immensely attractive – multi-purpose – sports-racing HWM-Jaguar is now offered here as a superbly presented example of the pioneering British marque’s finest and most celebrated endurance racing design.
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