Arizona

20-21 January 2011

Thursday

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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 It was practically a moving chicane and was withdrawn after practice.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.

Addendum

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

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

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

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

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