If you’re looking for the finest collector cars the United States has to offer, you go to Monterey. If the proof is in the auction prices, this year certainly proved Monterey is king. While there was a wealth of exceptional lots, two stole the show and made their way into the record books.

The star of the record-setting afternoon was a 1955 Jaguar D-Type racecar. Easily one of the most significant Jaguars in the world, this was the first Jag to ever be designated a D-Type. In 1956, this D-Type won the 24 Hours of Le Mans piloted by Ecurie Ecosse and is the only Le Mans winning D-Type to survive in its original winning form. The car had just two private owners since Ecosse before coming up for auction in Monterey.

The hammer price on this British racing legend was an impressive $19.8 million ($21.7 million including auction fees). This unnamed buyer set the record for the most expensive British automobile to be sold at private auction. 

Just minutes after the hammer fell on the record breaking Jag, Shelby Cobra number one rolled onto the block. CSX 2000, the first AC to be fitted with a Ford V8 (260 cubic inches) by Shelby. Used for R&D and media testing, CSX 2000 was painted several different colors to suggest that Shelby had numerous Cobras on hand. In reality, this was the only Cobra in existence for five months. The performance and durability of this test mule brought Carroll Shelby from retired racer to performance legend. Carroll Shelby repaid CSX 2000 by retaining ownership until his passing in 2012.

What does it cost to buy a priceless piece of Shelby history? The hammer dropped at $12.5 million dollars, ($13.75 million with auction fees) making it the most expensive American vehicle sold at private auction. Fitting we think, because its hard to find a more American car story than Carroll Shelby's.


Text By Dean Larson

Photos courtesy of RM Sotheby's