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Lot 633
1956 Jaguar XK140 MC DHC

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Selling on Saturday Evening

The Ex-Briggs Cunningham Team Car, Denise McCluggage Race Winner

CHASSIS NO: S818207

• Famed auto journalist and racer, Denise McCluggage won her 1st race in this car
• Recently featured at the Motorsports Hall of Fame upon McCluggage’s 2022 induction
• Given to McCluggage by celebrated sportsman and her race team sponsor, Briggs Cunningham
• Backed by Cunningham Motorsports’ Historian, this historic car is a surviving example with certified history and period photos


3.4-litre DOHC straight six-cylinder engine, double SU H6 carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox, front suspension transverse wishbones with torsion bars, rear rigid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, rack and pinion steering; wheelbase: 102”


How often do you have a chance to purchase a historic race car that was owned and raced by two people who are in a combined six Halls of Fame, so important was their impact on the national and international motorsports world. A flurry of media coverage surrounded the resurfacing of this Jaguar in dozens of classic car trade magazines internationally like Road & Track and Autoweek as well as some TV coverage.

American sportsman Briggs Cunningham was indisputably one of the most pivotal figures in post-war sports car racing, making a profound impact as a driver, team owner and constructor. His contributions to both motor racing and competitive sailing eventually led into his induction in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the America's Cup Hall of Fame. The famed Alfred Momo managed the Cunningham racing team, at various times fielding such accomplished drivers as Jack Brabham, Luigi Chinetti, Bob Grossman, Dan Gurney, Duncan Hamilton, Walt Hansgen, Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill, Ed Hugus, Bruce McLaren, Stirling Moss, Augie Pabst, Roger Penske, Roy Salvadori and of course, Denise McCluggage.

Briggs chose to close his sports car company in 1955, thereafter racing almost exclusively in foreign makes. This decision coincided with an agreement with Coventry to become the director of Jaguar Cars, New York, the marque's East Coast distributorship, which facilitated Cunningham's purchase of a D-Type and several racing XKs over the next few years, this being one of those which he raced personally.

A recent highlight at the 2022 Motorsports Hall of Fame induction in Daytona Beach, this 1956 Jaguar XK140 caused quite a stir. Hall of Fame inductee, Denise McCluggage, won her first race in this terrific red Jag. Believed to have been lost to the sands of time, this XK was often referenced with extreme fondness by McCluggage in interviews and was discovered a couple of years after her passing at the age of 88. Denise was not only an accomplished, and quite famous, racecar driver, she was one of the greatest automobile journalists to ever put pen to paper. She brought racing and automotive coverage to the New York Herald and was the first female journalist to cover the famed Indy 500 where she had to do her interviews from outside the fence of gasoline alley as women were forbidden inside. Although quite qualified, she was forbidden to race at Le Mans as well as they steadfastly refused to allow a woman driver. She took her Competition Press and became one of the founders of Autoweek, where she remained her entire career, and here in Auburn is her long-lost Jaguar.

McCluggage was akin to Ernest Hemingway in that she physically did whatever she wrote about. When she was covering the sport of skiing, she skied. When she began covering motorsports, she raced. McCluggage was already working sporting events at the New York Herald when she struck up a friendship with famed American sportsman, Briggs Cunningham, at a Connecticut Yacht Club. She was there covering the race and Briggs was scooping ice cream for the kids. Shortly thereafter, McCluggage was racing with Briggs as her sponsor. This car, chassis number S818207, is the car Briggs assigned to Denise. She raced it well and often, most famously at the SCCA race at New York’s Montgomery Airport where she secured a first-place class C victory on August 19, 1956. Denise McCluggage would go on to race many cars around the world, but she always referenced this 1956 XK140 Jaguar as a special touchstone in her illustrious career. She practically established the motorsports genre in print journalism. She brought automotive coverage to the New York Herald and the races of Indy 500, Le Mans, Grand Prix, and countless others to Autoweek. Back when women weren’t allowed in the Indy 500’s gasoline alley, she would interview her subjects through the fence. Through talent, tenacity, and good-humored charisma, she charted a path that would change the genre of automotive writing. Overstating her importance as a journalist is frankly impossible. She is the only journalist to ever be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Autoweek continues today because of McCluggage. When she passed away in 2015, her last article for the publication she helped start went to print just five days later. McCluggage’s legacy in her field knows no equal and this car is an important cornerstone of that story. Denise counted as close personal friends everyone from Steve McQueen, Phil Hill, Sterling Moss, Dan Gurney as well as many music and Hollywood personalities.

Shortly after Denise and Briggs’ fortuitous meeting, Briggs opened up a Jaguar dealership and ordered a round of 1956 Jaguar XK140s for his racing team. Chassis number S818207 is one of those Jags. The British marque’s successor to the groundbreaking XK120, the new XK140, delivered a more spacious cockpit and leg room, improved brakes, rack-and-pinion steering and telescoping shock absorbers. The exterior offered more pronounced bumpers, a sleeker grille, and more chrome trim, but fortunately, the new XK retained the voluptuous curves that made it a post-war icon. The Drophead Coupe offered a sturdier canvas top, a fixed windscreen, side windows, a small backseat as well as a walnut-veneered dashboard and door trim that reminded the driver they were in the lap of British luxury while at the wheel of a racer. This particular MC, known as SE (special equipment) in the UK, boasted a 3,442-cc, DOHC, straight six-cylinder engine, which breathed through double SU H6 carburetors, shifted through a four-speed gearbox, and was undeniably formidable on the blacktop.

The current owner discovered “Lady Leadfoot,” as he affectionately calls the car, sleeping in a barn where it had resided for nearly 30 years. It boasts matching numbers and seems to be wholly unaltered since its days on the track. When it came time to vet what was believed to be Denise McCluggage’s famed Jaguar, he looked to Cunningham Motorsports’ Historian, Lawrence Berman. Once Berman had a look at the car’s pedals, he immediately knew. Brigg’s Chief Mechanic, Alfred Momo, always bent the pedals of the Cunningham team cars to allow for improved toe-heeling while racing. This was it. In a short amount of time, he confirmed that this, indeed, was Denise’s long-lost Jag and that it had also been raced by Briggs at Beverly Airport. A true original, just like its storied owner, this legendary Jaguar has been unaltered since its days as a racer and possesses all the glorious patina it has so rightfully earned. An opportunity that is unlikely to surface again, chassis S818207 is such a significant part of American racing history and the journalistic genre that gave it life. This Jaguar has many more places to go and stories to tell in the future.

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