20-21 January 2011


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Lot 112

1959 Costin Jaguar

Sold for $209,000

250 bhp, 3,442 cc DOHC six-cylinder engine, three SU carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs, double wishbones and anti-roll bar, rigid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 102"

- Astonishing history dating back to 1939 ERA Grand Prix car
- Williams & Pritchard aluminum coupe body fitted in mid-1950s
- Body fitted to Jaguar chassis, and raced by the Hon. Patrick Lindsay into the 1980s

The history of this interesting Costin Jaguar starts in 1939. The wiry little ERA (English Racing Automobiles) racers had been tearing up the 1.5-liter and even 2-liter classes in Europe but didn’t have a big enough engine to race against the German Mercedes-Benzes or Auto Unions or even the Alfa Romeos in the Grand Prix races.

Reid Railton, who designed the ERA, had gone back to America, and his assistant Peter Berthon was tasked with coming up with a competitive Formula 1 race car. Unfortunately, it was 1939 and Europe was preoccupied with the imminent World War, meaning the company’s backers had other priorities. However, the British press was all over the idea, hoping the country could beat the Germans at something before the unpleasantness began.

Berthon was stuck for a motor, but he continued with ERA practice and tried boring out the Riley-derived twin-cam six-cylinder that had been so successful in 1.5-liter form. The bored-out version was claimed to be 2.6 liters, but engineers had concluded that about 2.2 liters was the biggest it could have been. Finally, the ambitiously named GP1 took to the track for the 1939 International Trophy at Brooklands, fitted with a 1.5-liter engine. It was practically a moving chicane and was withdrawn after practice.

Berthon pressed on: GP1 was shipped to Reims for the French Grand Prix, but even though it was clocked at 160 mph on the straight, it broke before the start. GP1 finally started a race at Albi, driven by Arthur Dobson, who was leading when he crashed. One more attempt before the war ended in a DNS. A second car, GP2, was completed after the war but parked in 1950 after a similar record. GP1’s final outing resulted in a tremendous fire that all but destroyed it. Fortunately, there was a spare chassis available (which wouldn’t fit anything else), and it was rebuilt.

The next chapter can be constructed through letters to a British motor magazine in the late 1960s. In the early 1950s, Ken Flint and Paul Kelly bought ERA GP2 fitted with an Austin A90 engine from an employee at the works. The motor wasn’t strong enough for a race car, so they found and installed a C-Type Jaguar engine, got it working properly and sold the now-much-faster car to J. Nichollson in Scotland.

Nichollson promptly ordered a sleek aluminum Costin-styled coupe body from coachbuilders Williams & Pritchard for the impressive sum of £1,250 – ten times the price of a brand new Ford. At this point, GP2 had a four-speed Jaguar transmission up front and its own ERA transmission in the rear, making a usable six-speed setup. It would certainly have taken some concentration to drive.

In any event, Nichollson sold GP2 to Stephen Lee; when Lee had enough of it, he advertised it for sale as GP1. This drew the attention of reader Gordon Chapman of Kineton, Warwick, who knew the car couldn’t be GP1 – he already owned it. This meant it had to be the missing GP2. Chapman removed the Williams & Pritchard body and concentrated on restoring GP2. It survives today, along with GP1, which competed at the Silverstone Classic in 2005 and the Goodwood Revival in 2007.

Meanwhile, another notable figure in British vintage racing weighed in with recollections of his own. He was Duncan Rabagliati of London, who had seen GP2 race at the Barbon hillclimb in 1963 registered as 933 BAO, with its handsome coupe body and with Nichollson at the wheel. Rabagliati also recalled seeing Ken Flint win a race in the cycle-fendered (and original-bodied) GP2 at Aintree in the early 1950s.

At this point, the Honorable Patrick Lindsay enters the picture. A descendent of the Earl of Crawford in 16th-Century Scotland, Patrick Lindsay raced almost everything he owned – including his tow vehicles. His competition record extended from 1955 into the 1980s in a wide variety of cars, and contemporary accounts describe him as a gentleman, sportsman, racing driver, aviator, auctioneer and head of Christie's Old-Masters Department.

Lindsay founded Christie's Motor Car Department more than 30 years ago and was a keen VSCC racer. He drove Maseratis, Alfas and Jaguars, but his particular favorite was the ex-Bira ERA "Remus," one of a pair of ERAs once owned by the racing Prince from Siam.

At Silverstone in the mid-1970s, race days had their rituals and their characters. Patrick Lindsay would fly in to Silverstone in his own Spitfire, landing it inside the track after some aerobatics to amuse the crowd. On the ground, he would switch to something equally ostentatious, such as Remus.

Sometime in the late 1970s, Lindsay bought the Williams & Pritchard Costin body that was removed from GP2. It is also likely that Gordon Chapman installed it in a Jaguar 150 frame himself and sold Lindsay the complete package. In any event, Patrick Lindsay must have loved the car, because he owned it until he died and drove with it in numerous races and events. With its lightweight body and current XK150 S power train, it remains fiercely competitive.

Patrick Lindsay’s widow, Lady Lindsay, and her son, Ludovic, sold the car to a music industry producer and musician who recorded Peter Green (from the first generation of Fleetwood Mac in the late 1960s) and played on his albums and also played keyboards and guitar with The Who in the early days. Now he's a country gentleman and enjoys racing.

Presently a lightweight roadster, this British Racing Green Costin Jaguar is in superb mechanical condition, as close examination will disclose. Offered from the collection of Bill Jacobs, it's a natural for events like the Wine Country Tour, Colorado Grand, and Copperstate 1000 and would be welcomed at the Monterey Historics.


Please note that this lot is being sold on "Bill of Sale Only" Please note the Hon. Patrick Lindsay owned but did not race this Jaguar special. He purchased the car for his sons Valentine, James and Ludovic to learn about classic machinery. Unfortunately, the car remained uncompleted at the time of his passing and was subsequently sold on by Valentine.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more