FEB 19th 2015

How to make two D‑Type Jaguars from... two D‑Type Jaguars (?)

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It is a sad fact that the world of classic cars will never rid itself of controversy when it comes to the identity of certain notable historic racers. The majority of competition cars exist to fulfil a specific purpose. Once that purpose has (or has not) been achieved they represent time, money and space which could be better used elsewhere, and are often dismantled or even destroyed.

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Sometimes, there comes a time where survivors become little more than obsolete and uncompetitive racing cars and as such are the subject of dubious modification or cannibalisation. The latter fate befell D-Type Jaguar chassis number XKD530, but not after a very colourful start to its life.

It was ordered new by a member of Finland’s Davis Cup tennis team in 1956 who raced it predominantly on ice with tyres which had 1 3/4 inch spikes fitted. After a few seasons of this it came back to Coventry for an overhaul and an upgrade in horsepower (although conversion to an XKSS road car had been considered), after which it returned to Finland before being sold to another Finn who finished first-in-class with it at the Leningrad Grand Prix of 1961, becoming the only only D-Type ever to race in the Soviet Union. We love stories like this about old cars; you just couldn’t make it up, could you?  

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Photo by Kari T Tossavainen, supplied by Terry Larson

By 1966, the car had been well-used and found its way to the UK. The body was deemed to be too far gone and so was discarded (along with the original engine and gearbox) in favour of a later-style long-nose body. Many years later, the discarded parts were sold and the original body repaired, with the lot being fitted to an all-new chassis. At this point two cars carried the XKD530 chassis number and controversy ensued. A Danish D-Type enthusiast summed up the sad state of affairs thus: ‘It seems difficult to rectify the situation, unless some benevolent person should decide to purchase both cars and exchange the front sub-frames and the legal documents, resulting in only one single car claiming to be XKD 530.’ This is exactly what happened.

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By late 2002, a collector had managed to acquire both cars bearing XKD530 and had them delivered to CKL Developments, who you may recall were responsible for the staggeringly beautiful XKSS we used for a ‘Firing on…’ video recently. CKL went about stripping both cars and establishing which parts belonged with the original car using factory parts numbers. The result was that the original body was reunited with the original chassis and, in case there was still any lingering doubt, when the two were offered together it was noted with some glee that the original holes from each (which had not been uniformly drilled-out) aligned perfectly.

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The car then was brought here to Goodwood for testing before embarking on no fewer than four Mille Miglias, concours events at Villa d’Este, Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, the Silverstone Classic and two Goodwood Revivals as well as a sensible amount of road use to keep things tickety-boo. 

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This brings us up to date, and next month it will be sold by RM Auctions at Amelia Island next month for between $3,750,000 and $4,250,000 if their estimate is accurate. Having read the full listing though, we had a key question: What happened to the pile of parts left over from the exercise? Surely there were enough left to build another D-Type?

We were fortunate enough to grab a few minutes of Chris Keith-Lucas’s (head of CKL Developments) time to find out. ‘Yes, we made a short-nose car out of the remaining parts,’ he confirmed. ‘DVLA issued a chassis number for it and now it’s in very safe hands in the States.’ So the ‘spare’ car is long gone, and if this one only makes it lower estimate it will cost £2,430,000 plus commission. Damn … although if there are a hundred thousand of us who can chip in with a few quid we might be able to make it ours! Er… anyone?

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