Eight cars from the collection of the late Jack Sears, winner of the first British Saloon Car Championship in 1958, will be a highlight of the Bonhams Revival sale at Goodwood on 9 September.
JUL 26th 2017
Army Jeep to Rolls‑Royce – Jack Sears' collection for sale at Revival
The lots include the car with which he was most associated, the 7.0-litre Ford Galaxie 500. Run in period by John Willment Racing, the giant American took “Gentleman Jack” to his second saloon car championship in 1963. The first time he won the inaugural championship five years earlier he was in an Austin Westminster!
Other cars from the collection crossing the block at the Goodwood Revival sale show what eclectic tastes he had. Among the cars are a 1955 US Army Jeep, a 1969 Mercedes 280 SL, a 2001 Ford Mustang and a 1948 MG TC – just like the one he began his circuit racing career with as a teenager at Goodwood in 1949.
The collection also includes the Rolls-Royce Phantom III, with Thrupp & Maberley limousine bodywork, that Jack’s mother bought off the Rolls-Royce stand at the 1938 London Motor Show. When Mrs Sears died in 1952 the car had covered just a little over 6000 miles – all chauffeur driven.
Jack Sears, who died in August 2016 aged 86, was known as Gentleman Jack for good reason. His was a privileged upbringing. At school at Charterhouse, his father – an engineer and farmer with a passion for collecting cars, particularly Rolls-Royces – gave him a Morgan 4/4. This gave the young Jack his first taste of competition but he still left school wanting to be a farmer.
In the early 1950s, after agricultural college, Jack Sears bought his own farm, a 600-acre estate in Norfolk where he, and his cars, lived until his death last year.
Farming could not divert him entirely from motor sport and what would turn out to be one of the most versatile and talented racing careers of the 1950s and 1960s. He raced veteran cars, tintops, F2 cars and drove rally cars. Aboard an assortment of sports car – Austin-Healeys, Jaguars, Aston Martins and Ferraris – he worked for a variety of works and privateer teams including BMC, John Coombs, Equipe Endeavour and Maranello Concessionaire. For John Willment he raced Cobras and the British Saloon Car Championship-winning Galaxie in 1963. Also that year he co-drove a Ferrari 330 LMB to fifth place overall at Le Mans. With Team Lotus in 1965 he raced Cortinas with Jim Clark before going on to join Carroll Shelby and driving the Daytona Coupe in the GT World Championship.
It was all a long way from the Austin he campaigned in that very first tintop championship – now of course the BTCC – in 1958. It is said that at the end of that inaugural year’s racing two drivers tied for first place and for a decider each was given an identical Riley 1.5 for a 10-lap shootout at Brands Hatch. Sears won by 1.6 seconds.
He regained the saloon car title for John Willment in the Galaxie and, for some races, a Lotus Cortina, in ’65, cementing the enduring connection between saloon car racing and the name of Jack Sears. Today the name lives on in the Jack Sears Trophy which is awarded by the BTCC to the best new driver at the end of each season.
Jack Sears’ collection of eight cars will be sold at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival sale on 9 September. The cars, and their presale estimates, are:
1963 Ford Galaxie 500 (£180-220,000)
1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Limousine by Thrupp & Maberley (£80-120,000)
1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL (£80-100,000)
1955 Nekaf Army Jeep M38 A1 (£10-15,000)
1948 MG TC (£18-22,000)
2001 Ford Mustang Bullitt GT(£15-18,000)
1971 BMW 3.0 S (£10-15,000)
1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth (£12-13,000)