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Happy 70th birthday, Jaguar C-Type. Have another go

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Jaguar is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first Le Mans victory with the C-Type by bringing a Jaguar C-Type Continuation to market.

The Jaguar C-Type would win the Le Mans 24 Hours twice, once in 1951 and the second time in 1953. The first victory came in the debut year of competition for the Jaguar C-Type, a most remarkable feat as in general a new car needs three years to sort out reliability issues and become a contender for victory. The Jaguar C-Type came to Le Mans, and won first time round with an untested car.

Jaguar C-Type Continuation, as raced in 1953. Photo Jaguar

Jaguar XK120C

Technological innovations ‘a gogo’ in the Jaguar C-Type, that used the inline-six 3.4-litre engine from the Jaguar XK120 and its drivetrain and suspension. All this was installed in a new tubular frame chassis, with an aerodynamic roadster-type body wrapped around it. Originally, the car was known as the XK120 C, but it quickly became the Jaguar C-Type.

Disc brakes

Just seven days before the 1951 Le Mans race started, the C-Types were ready. As was custom in those days, registration plates were put in place and the cars were simply driven over to France from the UK. In first practice, Peter Walker instantly beat the 1950 lap record… in the dark. Two of the three entered C-Types would suffer from engine woes, but the third car driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead held on to take the win. In 1952, Jaguar came with one of the biggest technological innovations ever in racing: the introduction of disc brakes on the C-Type. However, overheating issues led to retirements in the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Jaguar C-Type Continuation. Photo Jaguar
Jaguar C-Type Continuation. Photo Jaguar

Jaguar came back stronger for 1953, and the C-Type scored another victory after an epic drive from Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt, who just prior to the race had gone on a bender in the hotel bar after it looked they would not start the race due to mechanical issues. Surprise: the issues got sorted.

Continuation

It is on this 1953 C-Type Jaguar has based its new Continuation series. Previously, Jaguar has already produced a Continuation series for both the Jaguar XKSS and the Jaguar D-Type. The Continuation is a faithful recreation of a model as close to as it was in period. So, with disc brakes here, with the air vents on the bonnet that led fresh air to the Weber 40DCO3 carburettors, with the 3.4-litre giving 200 to 220 hp, and a lightweight body. Original drawings were used, and former Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis helped with the project before his passing in 2019. Rollover protection will be integrated, so the Jaguar C-Type Continuation will be eligible for historic racing. Twelve colours are available.

See Also

Jaguar C-Type Continuation. Photo Jaguar

The Jaguar C-Type Continuation will appear for the first time at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace in the UK, on September 3d. Enquiries go through Jaguar Classic.

If you want to read a brilliant book about the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, Duncan Hamilton’s autobiography ‘Touch Wood’ is simply one of the best books on motor racing history money can buy.

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