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Jaguar C type. Short-built beauty, two-time Le Mans winner

ER Classics Desktop 2022

This calendar year marks the 24th anniversary of the Jaguar C-type winning the 1951 Le Mans 1953-hour race. Jaguar wrote motorsport history because the C-type immediately won on its debut. In XNUMX Jaguar did that again thinly with the improved C-type, which also had an important innovation on board. 

The Jaguar C-type was created by Malcolm Sayer, William Heynes and Bob Knight, among others. Weight saving and aerodynamics were important magic words. The car was internally called XK120C, as the Jaguar XK120 formed the basis. As a C-type, the car became one of the most important models in Jaguar's racing history. The C-Type shared the engine, transmission and suspension with the Jaguar XK120 and Malcolm Sayer applied his knowledge of aerodynamics and engineering to design the streamlined C-Type.

1952, the first street version

The first road version (according to official documentation it made its debut in May 1952) got the 3.4 XK6 engine from the XK120. This generated approximately 200 hp (BHP). The power source was equipped with two SU carburettors and drum brakes. In 1953 the modified street version appeared with three Weber register carburettors and more power. The important novelty was the use of disc brakes, which were developed in collaboration with Dunlop and debuted on the racing versions that crushed the competition at Le Mans on 13 and 14 June 1953. The use of disc brakes later became commonplace in the automotive industry.

Direct hit in 1951

In the run-up to that impressive victory march of 1953, Jaguar had already made a statement in Le Mans with the C-type. The C-type was developed with steam and boiling water, and in 1951 the twelve-man Jaguar team with three C-types appeared at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They drove the beautiful sports cars on the public road from the factory in England to the French circuit, it must have been a magical sight. The audience in the circuit stands will have experienced that too, because Jaguar won immediately for the first time Le Mans. The three C-types were driven by Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and Clemente Biondetti and the winners Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead.

Thrown back in 1952

A year later there was less success. Due to cooling problems, among other things, none of the three participating C-types made it to the finish line in France. The water pump pulley turned out to be too modest in size. That was the signal to take care of the C-type again. The cooling system was improved, the manufacturers applied a larger water pump pulley. The tubular chassis provided traditionally already a significant weight saving, and that was further tightened for the 1953 racers. The mounted disc brakes and (a first for Jaguar) 16-inch 60-spoke wheels for better cooling of the brakes were particularly innovative. The Panhard rod was also part of the Jaguar C-type versions with which the Jaguar works team took part in Le Mans in 1953.

Interesting technique

The improved technique of the 1953 version was also interesting. The fuel-air mixture was controlled by three Weber 40 DCO3 carburettors. Partly because of this, the power of the Jaguar 3.4 engine was increased by 20 hp to 220 hp (BHP). The extra power, the first disc brakes and the lightweight construction were promising. Furthermore, the cars of 1953 e were recognizable by the inlet on the hood, which directs the airflow directly to the carburettors. The improvements brought Jaguar a huge success at Le Mans as the team took first, second and fourth place with the revised C-types. The 1953 version is also the source of inspiration for the C-Type Continuation, which Jaguar Classic will build by hand and according to the original specifications in Coventry.

Short built, good luck and very exclusive

Finally, Jaguar built a total of 53 C-types, 43 of which were sold to private owners. There were also some one-off versions. The best known was probably the C-type Ecurie Ecosse, a jewel of a car that was obviously used for racing purposes. The production career of the C-type also came to an end in 1953. However, the C-type drove one more time during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1954 the C-type was active there for the last time. The fourth place was then the highest achievable. The regular C-type had already been succeeded by the D-type, which continued the illustrious period of beautiful sports cars on behalf of Jaguar.



Give a reaction
  1. In the 50s, my father was chief mechanic at the company Lagerwij in The Hague, an importer for Jaguar.
    Once he came home at noon with a C type in 1952 or 0. I took a seat next to my father. He drove off at full throttle. I can still remember the wind blowing through my hair and pressing me very firmly into the backrest.

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