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  Jaguar C-Type

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1951 - 1953
Numbers built:54
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 06, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionKeen to comply with the spirit of the regulations, which stipulated the cars that competed at events like Le Mans had a production equivalent and were not pure prototypes, but also, of course, to make an even bigger return on investment, a customer version of the C-Type was announced. Production was delayed due to the limited availability of high grade steel for the tubular frame; the first examples were finally delivered to customers in the spring of 1952. Eventually, well over 40 examples were built and among the customers were many privateer racers but also the first two F1 World Champions, Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio. Neither actually raced their C-Type and the former is believed to have bought his so that Ferrari could take a detailed look at its new rival.

While the production cars were close to the 1951 Le Mans specification, development of the works cars continued. For the 1952 Le Mans, a new, even more aerodynamic body was conceived as an answer to the much feared arrival of the German Mercedes-Benz team. Earlier in the year, Stirling Moss had run a C-Type with disc brakes in the Mille Miglia but this novel technology was not fitted to the three cars entered at Le Mans. The race proved an absolute disaster as all three C-Types retired early with overheating issues. This has often been attributed to the revised bodywork but it was later found that some of the cooling pipes were also too narrow. Jaguar did make history that year with Moss claiming the first ever win for a racing car with disc brakes at Reims.

Following the disgraceful early exit at Le Mans in 1952, Jaguar left nothing on the table to salvage their reputation in 1953. Three brand new 'Lightweight' cars were built. In addition to being some 60 kg lighter, the 1953-specification C-Type also featured a revised head with triple Weber carburettors raising the power to 220 bhp and disc brakes developed together with Dunlop on all four corners. These not only helped to stop the car earlier but were also more resistant to fading. The team had clearly learned from their mistakes as the cars finished first, second and fourth overall. The winning car of Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt was the first ever to win the race with an average of over 100 mph, at an impressive 105.841 mph.

For 1954, Jaguar replaced the C-Type with the equally successful D-Type, which featured an all-new monocoque chassis and aerodynamic body but once again relied on the very potent XK drivetrain. The C-Type established Jaguar as a leading racing car manufacturer and in addition to the victories scored by the works team, examples were raced with great success by privateers all over the world. This undoubtedly contributed considerably to the global sales of Jaguar's road going production cars, underlining the usefulness of racing as a marketing tool. The C-Type also introduced disc brakes to the automotive world; a technology used to this day.

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