Chassis Num: XKC 052
Engine Num: E 1055-9
Sold for $13,200,000 at 2015 RM Sothebys
The Jaguar C-Type enjoyed a very successful racing career, winning the 24 Hours of LeMans twice for Coventry. The C-Type began life as the XK120 roadster. Several privateering customers entered factory-supported XK120 examples at the 1950 Le Mans race. Leslie Johnson's car proved to be very competitive, spending considerable time in 4th place. This performance convinced Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons and engineer Bill Heynes to build a lighter, more aerodynamic body with modified XK120 mechanics.
Work soon began on a new lightweight tubular space frame. The rear suspension of the XK120 was redesigned with additional positioning links, and the 3.4-liter XK engine received a new cylinder head, high-lift camshafts, racing pistons, and an un-muffled dual exhaust system, helped raise the motor's output to 200 horsepower. The mechanical masterpiece was then clothed in an aerodynamic body penned by Jaguar stylist Malcolm Sayer. The first three cars were hand-built in only six weeks.
These specially built cars were initially known as the XK120C (C for competition). The C-Type made its debut at the 1951 LeMans 24 Hours with a team of factory-sponsored cars. Two of the three entries were forced to retire early with oil line issues. The car driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead took the overall victory - the first British car to win Le Mans in nearly 2 decades. The car finished 77 miles ahead of the 2nd place finisher and set the following records: fastest lap speed of 105.232 mph, 24-hour speed record of 93.495 mph, and greatest distance traveled in 24 hours at 2,243.886 miles.
By early 1953, 50 examples had been built. The factory's 1952 Le Mans campaign was not as successful, with all three Works cars retiring early due to cooling system issues. The engineer's at Coventry realized that the C-Type required a few upgrades to remain competitive for 1953, and a final run of three cars began development. This particular example, chassis number XKC 052, is the second of those three lightweight Works examples that were prepared specially for the 1953 Le Mans.
This final run of C-Type models received a new thin-gauge aluminum coachwork, more powerful Weber carburetors, a fully synchronized gearbox and triple-plate clutch, an additional upper link to the rear axle, and a rubber aircraft fuel bladder, amongst other lighter, weight-saving components. They were also the only three lightweight C-Types built by the factory and were the first disc-brake-equipped entrants to race at LeMans.
Norman Dewis tested XKC 052 on February 12th of 1953. It was given number 19 and piloted by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart at the 1953 LeMans race. During the race, all three Alfa Romeo entries retired early. By daybreak, only one of the three Ferrari remained in competition. The C-Types continued to set the race-leading pace, with 051 and 053 in 1st and 2nd place respectively. XKC 052 was just a few laps behind in 4th. By the 24th hour, this order remained, with Briggs Cunningham's C5-R in 3rd place, breaking up the 1-2-3 sweep by the Coventry team. By the waving of the checkered flag, chassis number XKC 052 had completed 297 laps with an average speed of almost 167 km/h.
After LeMans, XKC 052 continued its factory competition campaign, with appearances at Silverstone and Goodwood, but mechanical issues resulted in two DNFs.
In November of 1953, with the company turning their attention to the next sports-racing model, the D-Type, XKC 052 was sold to Ecurie Ecosse. On December 12, 1953, the Scotland-based Scuderia registered the Jaguar with tags reading LFS 672. Wearing Flag Metallic Blue paint, the car was mostly driven by Jimmy Stewart through May 1954, finishing 1st three times at Goodwood and once at National Ibsley. Roy Salvadori took over driving duties in early June, winning two events at Snetterton on June 5 before Stewart returned to finish 1st at Goodwood two days later. The following month, Ninian Sanderson drove it to a 2nd place at National Oulton Park on June 12 and at the National Charterhall race on July 11.
On September 4th, Salvadori claimed another victory at National Chaterhall with the car, followed by a 2nd place finish at the Penya-Rhin Grand Prix on October 10. In total, XKC 052 netted Ecurie Ecosse eight victories during 1954, with four 2nd place finishes, four 3rd place finishes, and three 4th place finishes.
XKC 052 was advertised for sale in the October 22, 1954 issue of Autosport
magazine. It was soon purchased by Peter Blond who repainted the C-Type green and used it for club racing throughout 1956, finishing 2nd at Goodwood in March 1955 and 5th at the Spa Grand Prix in May, with Hans Davids at the wheel. It earned three 4th place finishes at the Goodwood International, BARC Goodwood, and the Crystal Palace International rounded out the 1955 season. It earned a 3rd place finish at the Goodwood even the following March.
Ownership passed to Maurice Charles in mid-April of 1956, who continued to improve upon its racing resume, with appearances at Goodwood and the Aintree 100. It placed 5th at the Brands Hatch race on August 6. In October, the car was offered for sale, and soon purchased by Jim Robinson, of Northampton, who race it twice at the Evesham sprints, finishing as high as 2nd in class. By the close of 1957, it was in the care of Alan Ensoll. Mr. Ensoll raced the car in various hill climb and sprints. It was sold in September of 1958 to Tom Candlish who placed 4th at Charterhall and 1st overall at the Rest-and-Be-Thankful Hill Climb Championship and the unlimited GT race at Charterhall in July 1959. Around this time, it was involved in a moderate accident.
In late 1959, the car was sold to Ian Denney, who treated the car to a complete restoration, including fitting it with a new lightweight body. It was sold to Brian Classic in 1969 and then acquired by Paul Grist in 1970, who cosmetically returned it to its Ecurie Ecosse livery.
The car was purchased by Martin Morris in 1971 and would remain with the Morris family for over three decades. A comprehensive two-year restoration was commissioned in 1986. In 2000, Morris's son assumed control of the C-Type's care. A short time later, it was sold into American ownership, from whom it was acquired by the current caretaker. Since then, it was been given a proper renewal to 1953 Le Mans specifications.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2015
The Jaguar C-Type was produced from 1951 to 1953 with an estimated 54 being produced. After a team of Jaguar XK 120C, the 'C' representing 'competition', vehicles had an excellent showing at LeMans, William Lyons commissioned a car to be built that could contend for the overall victory. Malcom Sayer designed the aerodynamic body and Bob Knight was responsible for the lightweight, multi-tubular, and triangulated frame. The body panels were constructed of aluminum. The mechanical components borrow heavily from the Jaguar XK120. Under the bonnet was a modified twin-cam, straight six engine. Horsepower had been increased from 160 to 205. All non-essential items were removed in an effort to reduce the overall weight. Nearly a thousand pounds was shed.
Later versions of the C-Type received extra modifications including disc brakes, reduced weight, and engine improvements. The engine was fitted with twin-choke Weber carburetors and high-lift camshafts.
The Jaguar C-Type made its LeMans debut in 1951. When the checkered flag dropped, it was a C-Type driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead in first place. This is an astonishing accomplishment and a true testament to the capability of the car and drivers. The legendary Stirling Moss was also driving a C-Type but unfortunately was forced to retire prematurely due to mechanical difficulties.
In 1953 a modified C-Type repeated its accomplishment by winning again at LeMans. It was driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt.
By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2006