Lord Irvine Laidlaw, 70, who regularly competed in rallies around the world in his vehicles including a Porsche 904GTS and a Maserati 6CM, said he was selling the cars after making the difficult decision to stop motor racing.
Lord Laidlaw, who has homes in Monaco and South Africa, said: “I don’t regard myself as a collector. I am a car enthusiast and as an enthusiast I want to exercise my cars regularly, rather than gloat over them in the garage. So I have decided to sell the remaining competition cars.”
Born in Keith, Banffshire, Lord Laidlaw is Scotland’s seventh-richest person and the 114th wealthiest in the UK with an estimated fortune of £770m.
He was once the Tories’ biggest financial donor but attracted controversy for his non-dom tax status.
The highlight of the seven cars, to be sold by RM Auctions in London is a 1955 Ecosse Jaguar D-Type, which was driven by racing stars Duncan Hamilton, Paul Frere and Peter Sutcliffe.
RM Auctions has described the sports car as “unquestionably one of the most important ex-Works racing Jaguars ever to be presented at auction”.
The car was raced at Silverstone and the Nurburgring in Germany and is expected to sell for about £6m – making it one of the most expensive British cars ever to be sold at auction.
A 1957 Maserati 250S is being offered with an estimate of between £2.5 and £3m. Lord Laidlaw’s 1960 Maserati Tipo 61, known as the “Birdcage”, for its multi-tube chassis, expected to sell for about £2.75m. He is also parting with his 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C, which has an estimate of £3m. A 1965 Porsche 904/6, which competed at the 1965 Le Mans, is expected to sell for £1m, while a Chevron B16 and Chevron B19 should fetch six-figure sums.
Lord Laidlaw, a Banffshire mill owner’s son, made his fortune in publishing. He sold the Institute for International Research in 2005 for £714m.
Peter Wallman, car specialist RM Auctions, said: “This is unquestionably the finest single-owner collection of 1950s and 1960s competition cars to have been offered at public auction.”
Peter Duncan, chairman of the Scottish Vintage Vehicle Federation, said he understood why Lord Laidlaw was selling his cars. “Lord Laidlaw has the right attitude,” he said.
“Car enthusiasts fall into two groups – a lot of people want to enjoy their cars in the condition they came out of the factory in and just sit and admire them.
“Then there are those like Lord Laidlaw who use them for what they were meant for.”
The Laidlaw Competition Car Collection will be sold by RM Auctions in London from 7-9 September.