Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jaguar C-Type

Jaguar C-Type, 1951

The Jaguar C-Type (also called the Jaguar XK120-C) is a racing car built by Jaguar and sold from 1951 to 1953. Its aerodynamic body was designed by Malcolm Sayer, its lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame designed by Bob Knight. A total of 52 were built. The "C" designation stood for 'competition', there being no A- or B-Type Jaguars.

Mechanically, it used the running gear of the contemporary Jaguar XK120 sports car (the C in the official XK120-C name stands for 'competition'). The twin-cam, straight-6 engine was tuned to around 205 bhp (153 kW) rather than 160 to 180 bhp (134 kW) of the road car. The custom, tubular chassis and aluminium body-panels, along with the elimination of all creature-comforts, helped the car to shed nearly 1000 lb (454 kg) compared to a comparable Jaguar road-car. The later C-Types were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshaft. They were also lighter and better braked, by means of all-round disc brakes.

The Jaguar C-Type won the Le Mans 24 hours race at its first attempt in 1951, driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. Stirling Moss also drove one of the cars, but retired after running very strongly. In 1952 Jaguar, worried by reports of the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, modified the aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, this necessitated a rearrangement of the car's cooling system, and subsequently all three entries retired due to overheating. In 1953 the car won again, in a lightened, more powerful configuration, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt. This victory marked the first time the race had been won at an average of over 100 mph (160 km/h) [105.85 mph (170.34 km/h), to be precise]. 1954, the Jaguar C-Type's final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters.

When new, the car sold for approximately $6,000 - approximately twice the price of an XK120. In an article in the June 11, 2003 issue of Autocar magazine ("Slick Cat Jaguar", p.70) the value of a "genuine, healthy" Jaguar C-Type is estimated as £400,000, and the value of the 1953 Le Mans winner is circa £2 million while replicas are available from a variety of sources from £40,000.


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