8 of 50 Most Expensive Auctioned Cars Feature SMITHS Gauges

8 of 50 Most Expensive Auctioned Cars Feature SMITHS Gauges

Of the 50 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, 8 feature SMITHS instrumentation (as of October 2018).  The news article featured on the Classic & Sports Car website, reviews all 50 classic cars.

The classic cars that feature SMITHS gauges are, in ascending order of the auction value:

Position 43 - 1968 Ford GT40

In the second half of the 1960s, the Ford GT40 dominated endurance racing.  The Ford GT40 was the first American car to win Le Mans 24 hour endurance race in 1966.  The auctioned car was one of only three lightweight Ford GT40 racers ever built.  At auction in Monterey, this 1968 GT40 sold for £8.9 million (adjusted for inflation).

The gauges of the Ford GT40 were designed and manufactured in the UK by SMITHS Instruments.  CAI continue to produce the SMITHS GT40 gauges today at their manufacturing facility in South Wales, using the original tooling and drawings.

Position 36 - 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato MP209

At the Bonhams auction at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, this stunning example of Aston Martin engineering sold for £10.1 million.  The car with the '2 VEV' number plate raced in 1961 and 1962 and was driven by Jim Clark and Denny Hulme.  Only 19 DB4 GTs were produced and they all featured SMITHS gauges in their dashboards.

Position 34 - 1953 Jaguar C Type

The Jaguar racing team raced the C Type between 1951 and 1953.  Indeed the 'C' notation actually stands for 'competition'.  The Jaguar C Type proved to be a class above the competition at the time, starting a decade long Jaguar domination of the Le Mans 24 hour race.  This 1953 model finished 4th at Le Mans, but still raised £10.4 million (adjusted for inflation) at a Sotheby's Monterey auction in 2015.

As with most Jaguar cars of the time, SMITHS designed and made the gauges.

Position 31 - 1962 Shelby 260 AC Cobra

In 1961, British and American automotive engineering joined forces to create the AC Cobra racing car.  Carroll Shelby wanted to build a racing car to beat the Corvette.  He succeeded and witnessed the birth of one of the most popular sports cars in the world.  In 2016, the very first Shelby Cobra was sold at auction for £10.7 million (adjusted for inflation).

The original AC Cobra racing cars were fitted with SMITHS gauges.  Gauges for both the original and 'continuation' AC Cobras continue to be made and supplied by CAI. 

Position 25 - 1965 Aston Martin DB4 Zagato

The 2nd Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato in the top 50 fetched £11.2 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2015.  This particular model was the only one of the nineteen produced that was supplied to Australia, where it was raced successfully in the early 1960s.  

Position 11 - 1963 Aston Martin DP215

The prototype sports car built by Aston Martin for grand touring-style racing was sold for £16.3 million (adjusted for inflation) in early 2018.  During the practice session for Le Mans in 1963, the DP215 was recorded as reaching 1986.6 mph, although Ted Cutting, Aston Martin's designer, was certain that the car had, in fact, exceeded 200 mph.  In the race, the DP215 only lasted 2 hours 12 minutes before being forced to retire due to mechanical damage.

Aston Martin had, once again, called on SMITHS to design and manufacture the gauges.

Position 9 - 1955 Jaguar D Type

The Jaguar D Type was designed with one sole objective in mind - to win the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race.  The design team turned to aviation engineering to give them the edge, resulting in a sleek, aerodynamic racing car.  The result was a three-year domination of Le Mans with victories in 1955, 1956 and 1957.  In 2016, the 1956 winning D Type was sold at RM Sotheby's Monterey for £16.9 million (adjusted for inflation).

SMITHS' long-time association with Jaguar continued with the supply of all the gauges for the D Type.  The Jaguar D Type evolved into the XKSS and CAI recently designed and supplied the gauges for the 'new original' model.

Position 8 - 1956 Aston Martin DBR1

The highest auction price ever raised for a British built car was at the RM Sotheby's Monterey in 2017.  The final price was £17.1 million (adjusted for inflation).  The DBR1 is the only Aston Martin to ever claim a victory at the Le Mans 24 hour race.  After three unsuccessful attempts, the David Brown Racing Dept secured first and second place at the 1969 race.

As with all Aston Martin racing cars of the time, the gauges were all designed and manufactured by SMITHS Instruments.

The Top 50 by Manufacturer

There are only 11 different car manufacturers in the top 50.  These are:

  • 27 Ferrari;
  • 4 Aston Martin;
  • 4 Mercedes-Benz;
  • 3 Bugatti;
  • 2 Alfa Romeo;
  • 2 Duesenberg
  • 2 Jaguar;
  • 2 McLaren;
  • 2 Porsche;
  • 1 Ford;
  • 1 Shelby Cobra;

With the demand for classic cars reaching new levels, it will be interesting to see how the top 50 evolves over the next 12 months.

For further information on SMITHS gauges for classic cars, including the Jaguar and Aston Martin, please contact us on:

Via the website

Email:  [email protected]

Phone:  +44 (0) 1639 732200

You can also follow us on social media including Facebook (@caigauge) and Twitter (@caigauge) for regular news and technical features.

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Tags: AC Cobra, Aston Martin, Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, Aston Martin DBR1, Aston Martin DP215, Ford GT40, Jaguar, Jaguar C Type, Jaguar D-Type

Categories: Case Histories

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