The Jaguar D-type, three-times winner at the Le Mans 24-hours, was celebrated today at the Goodwood Revival. Thirty examples of Malcolm Sayer’s memorable design took part in a mouth-watering parade, the largest gathering of such cars in history. Their numbers included the former works car that won at Le Mans in 1955, driven by Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb, and the ex-Ecurie Ecosse victor in 1957; a year in which D-types took five of the top six places there.
Jaguar’s insatiable test driver Norman Dewis, now in his nineties, was in 1954 the first to drive a D-type; the prototype OVC 501. He showed his continuing enthusiasm by taking part in the parade. The car, still owned by Jaguar and never raced, was another of the D-types present today.
Many of the cars that had taken part in the parade then competed in a 25-minute race, held exclusively for D-types and their exotic road going equivalent, the XKSS. The contest, which included former Le Mans winners Derek Bell and Andy Wallace, who had himself finished first at Le Mans in 1988 in a factory Jaguar XJR9, was won by serial Goodwood victor Gary Pearson in his 1955 3781cc, long-nose version. ‘One of the most beautiful cars I have driven,’ remarked Bell, who was racing a D-type for only the second time.
Arguably one of the most attractive racers ever built, the aeronautically inspired D-type helped cement Jaguar’s reputation as a leading sportscar manufacturer. Their iconic status makes them an ideal model to be commemorated at Goodwood, a circuit where they competed in so many battles during the 1950s. They will be back on Sunday to bring back memories of those days for the sell-out crowd.