Jaguar C-type, the beautiful and innovative conquer of Le Mans is being recreated in a strictly limited production run of just eight cars by Jaguar Classic. As part of the marque’s Continuation series, the entirely new cars are being built to mark the 70th birth anniversary of this legendary racer and streetcar.
Jaguar created the C-type Continuation programme to offer historic motor racing enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase brand new factory-built replicas of Jaguar’s most iconic cars. The first offering under this programme was the E-Type 60 Collection, to commemorate the model’s 60th anniversary in March 2021. The C-Type is the second model to be offered under the Continuation series.
The C-type, originally made between 1951-53, is a highly sought after collectable, famed as much for its stunningly beautiful silhouette as it is for its conquests on the race track.
The C-type’s fluid-like, undulating flow lines were penned by Jaguar Cars designer, aerodynamicist and artist Malcolm Sayer. He began his career in the manufacturing division of the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War. In 1948, Sayer established an Engineering Faculty at Baghdad University. There, he learned some of the key design principles that would later play a significant role in creating the wind-cheating curves of the C-type.
The C-Type came into existence thanks to the road racing successes of the Jaguar XK120 in 1950. Jaguar’s chief engineer at the time, William Heynes sanctioned a dedicated competition model, designated XK120C. This car was later re-designated as the C-type. The whole project, from design to development and testing, was completed in just half a year. With their fluid aerodynamic bodies, reduced weight and increased power over the standard XK120, the first C-type models were ready in the spring of 1951.
In June, that same year, the C-type made its debut at the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours, and secured the first of Jaguar’s seven outright wins. Of the three examples entered, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead’s car won the race with an imposing nine-lap lead, while second-car driver Stirling Moss broke the lap record by an impressive six seconds. On its first attempt, just a couple of months after being built, the Jaguar C-type broke every speed and distance record on offer.
Despite these impressive results, it became apparent that a braking system more resistant to fade was required for racing at high speeds over long distances. Therefore, during the winter months of 1951 and 1952, Jaguar began working on a disk brake system with Dunlop, who developed pads thick enough to last the 24-hour race distance. On June 29, 1952, Stirling Moss drove the C-type to victory at Reims, at an average speed of 98.18 mph. This was the first time a race car fitted with disc brakes had won an international motorsports event.
With its new braking system and a revised lighter body, the C-type was ready for Le Mans 1953. Besides being the first car with disk-brakes to win at Le Mans, the C-type also secured 2nd and 4th positions. Covering over 4,000 kilometres at an average speed of around 170 kmph, Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt’s victorious car 18 smashed the previous 1952 record of 155 kmph. In doing so, they became the first winners to take the title with an average speed of more than 160 kmph. Behind them, Stirling Moss and Peter Walker took second in car 17. Fourth place was secured by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart in car 19. The car even enjoyed success in the hands of private owners, which contributed to Jaguar finishing second in the inaugural World Sportscar Championship.
Of the 53 Jaguar C-types built in the 1950s, 43 were sold to private owners, but the production C-type specification was limited to drum-braked cars with twin SU carburettors and producing 200bhp; in the style of the 1951 works cars.
In 2021, 70 years since its breathtaking beauty and brawn burst onto the world’s racetracks, Jaguar will once again produce C-types, but only eight of them. These eight cars will be built according to the 1953 Le Mans-winning works team car specification, meaning they will have a 3.4-litre straight-six engine with triple Weber 40DCO3 carburettors for 220bhp and, of course, disc brakes.
Dan Pink, Director, Jaguar Classic, said: “Driven by some of the most-admired racing drivers in history, the C-type laid the foundations for Jaguar’s success in endurance racing and is synonymous with design and engineering innovation. Seventy years on, Jaguar Classic is proud to be able to utilise the latest innovations in manufacturing technology – alongside traditional skills and unrivalled expertise – to reintroduce this legendary car for a new generation of enthusiasts to enjoy.”
Building on the experience gained with previous Jaguar Classic Continuation programmes for Lightweight E-type, XKSS and D-type, Jaguar Classic engineers have consulted Jaguar’s archives and cross-referenced scan data taken from an original C-type in conjunction with the latest computer-aided design technology to create the most authentic new C-type possible.
Exclusive access to original engineering drawings and company records created by the original C-type development team – including Malcolm Sayer, competitions manager Lofty England, and engineers William Heynes, Bob Knight and Norman Dewis – ensure the original 1953 specifications are accurately maintained.
Taking that engineering CAD data a stage further, for the first time, Jaguar Classic gives customers the opportunity to visualise their C-type Continuation virtually using a specially designed online configurator. This new tool at classicvisualiser.jaguar.com allows users to compare colour and trim options from the 12 exterior colours, eight interior colours, optional racing roundels, steering wheel badge and bonnet badging.
Another option available to C-type Continuation customers includes an FIA-approved Harness Retention System or rollover protection. Not just for show, these authentic new C-types will be eligible for historic racing, track and closed-road use.
The eight cars are scheduled to be ready for the racing-inspired celebration event being organised for their owners in 2022.