Jaguar unveils its ‘new’ D-type in Paris. After Lightweight and XKSS, a Le Mans legend is reborn. Words James Elliott.
Jaguar announced in Paris earlier this month that the next car in its run of continuation projects will be the iconic D-type and unveiled a spectacular engineering prototype to tempt buyers. Previous continuations programmes have had be founded on a very specific premise – fulfilling the original planned quota of Lightweight E-types or recreating the XKSS road cars that were destroyed in the factory fire of 1957 – and the run of 25 continuation D-types is said to honour the factory’s 1955 intention of building 100 examples of the sports racer. The cars will be handbuilt at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry and buyers will be able to choose short-nose or long-nose bodywork.
Jaguar originally revealed the Jaguar D-type as replacement for the then-ageing C-type in 1954. It shared many of the same mechanicals, but its advanced aerodynamics by Malcolm Sayer and its lightweight semimonocoque construction propelled it to even greater success. Production ran until 1957 and included 18 team cars and 53 customer cars, as well as the 16 unsold chassis that were converted to roadgoing XKSSs.
The 172mph D-type became a legend of endurance racing, with Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb famously taking victory for the factory at the disaster-hit Le Mans in 1955, before Ecurie Ecosse rounded off a hat-trick of wins with Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart’s victory in 1956 and then by securing the first four places in ’1957, with Flockhart and Bueb top of the heap.
‘THE NEW D-TYPES WILL BE BUILT TO ORIGINAL LE MANS SPEC AND FOR PRIVATE ROAD OR TRACK USE ONLY’
The new D-types will be to original Le Mans specification and come with the caveat that they are for private road or track use only. There is no suggestion of price just yet, but it is likely to be well above £1 million. ‘The Jaguar D-type is one of the most iconic and beautiful competition cars of all time,’ said Jaguar Land Rover Classic director Tim Hannig, ‘with an outstanding record in the world’s toughest motor races. And it’s just as spectacular today.
‘The opportunity to continue the D-type’s success story, by completing its planned production run in Coventry, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime projects that our worldclass experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic are proud to fulfil.’
Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic engineering manager, added: ‘Recreating the nine D-type-derived XKSSs was hugely satisfying, and an even bigger technical challenge than the six missing Lightweight E-types, but lessons learned from the XKSS project have given us a head start on the final 25 D-types. Each one will be absolutely correct, down to the very last detail, just as Jaguar’s Competitions Department intended.’
Clockwise from top New D-type will be handbuilt at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works; engine will be the 3.4 twin-cam straight-six that was specc’d for ’55/56; fuel filler under fin; authentic cockpit.