On June 14, 1953, a telegram arrived at Jaguar headquarters in Coventry from Buckingham Palace. The new Queen, only crowned two weeks earlier, congratulated the Big Cat’s racing team for taking a famous second victory at Le Mans.
The aerodynamic and advanced C-type had broken the 100 mph 24-hour average speed record, clocking 105 mph. In doing so the Jaguar smashed the 93mph record set by another C-type at the same race in 1951.
Now 70 years after that first victory, the Jaguar Classics team in Coventry is building up to 16 ‘Continuation’ cars depending on demand. All will be to the same specification as the one that won the French endurance race and prompted the Queen to add her tribute.
The first stunning recreation will be unveiled to the public for the first time at the Concours of Elegance, at Hampton Court Palace in London tomorrow (Sept 3). While the car looks incredible in our photographs, it’s even more breath-taking in the metal.
Sat on chrome wire wheels, the attention to details is remarkable – everything from the Lucas fuse-box cover to the unusual brackets on the brake fluid reservoir have been matched up perfectly.
Each example will be hand built from original drawings that followed painstaking research into the C-type’s illustrious history. Engineers will use original techniques as well as 3D CAD design – they also consulted the original sales ledger of parts, which totally over 2,000 items.
Dan Pink of Jaguar Classics said: “This car is one of the most iconic in Jaguar’s racing history, driven by some of the most admired drivers, like Sir Stirling Moss, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead.
“The C-type is particularly notable for the first use of disc brakes – early versions what we use in modern cars today. Developed with Dunlop, they helped contribute to the C-types domination on the track.”
The disc brakes proved so successful that they were quickly adopted by other racing teams and on the road. It was a case of motorsport know-how improving safety and the driving experience for all.
Each Continuation will be fitted with a 3.4-litre, straight six engine equipped with triple Webber carburettors, producing 220bhp – more than enough for new buyers to enjoy competitive historic racing on the track too.
Of the 53 C-types built in the 1950s, 43 were sold to private owners and, importantly, were fitted with less powerful drum brakes. The Continuation cars are equipped with the same disc brakes as the 1953 Le Mans-winning Jaguar.
The new model is the fourth Continuation car from Jaguar, models that include a Lightweight E-type, D-type and XKSS. Aston Martin has also built a range of Continuation cars. All have sold out despite seven-figure price tags and are regarded by collectors as appreciating classics.
Even if the C-type is out of your price range, it’s worth logging onto the ‘car configurator’ at jaguar.co.uk to build your own version. Twelve water-based paint colours are available, with a choice of eight leather interiors and plenty of period options.
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