The first of Jaguar’s new-build C-types gets its first public airing this weekend (3-5 September) – and as befits British motorsport royalty it is in the appropriately regal surroundings of Hampton Court Palace.
The unveiling comes six months after Jaguar Classic announced plans to follow up on recreated “continuation” models like the XKSS, D-type and Lightweight E-type with the daddy of Jaguar’s sports racers, the C-type.
Why wouldn’t you? The C won Le Mans on its debut in 1951 and then completely blitzed the 24 Hours in 1953, its new-fangled disc brakes making it the first car to lap at over 100mph.
It’s the ’53 car on which Jag Classic has based its recreated hand-built masterpiece, the first of which takes pride of place at the Concours of Elegance in Hampton Court this weekend.
Limited availability (they originally said they would make just eight), hugely expensive (no price but we guess six noughts) and perhaps all sold anyway, the C-type Continuation majors on authenticity, as you might expect.
The lengths Jaguar has gone to create it are extraordinary, combining the digitisation of archived drawings for what the firm says is its first recreated classic car to be reproduced fully utilising 3D computer design. The rendering of Malcolm Sayers’ aerodynamically inspired bodywork follows the same techniques and build methods that were used in period.
The 3.4-litre XK straight-six with triple Weber carbs, here with the 220PS it had in 1953 race spec, takes nine months to build. Period touches include refurbished Weber carbs and Plessey hydraulic pump on the gearbox that pumps hydraulic fluid for the all-important disc brakes.
There’s the correct Lucas fusebox cover (from 1953 mind, not the different one from 1951) while the Lucas rear-view mirror is original, the result says Jaguar of a treasure hunt for the correct parts.
There’s a Brooklands aero screen and a Smiths clock on the dash. The needle on the tachometer goes counter-clockwise (as it did in ’53) and the Rexine finish on the dashboard and side panels is taken from the last roll of this type of material that exists.
A Bluemel steering wheel is true to the original with no badge at its centre – it was omitted from the race cars to reduce reflections (ask nicely and they will put one on for you though).
All this plus the hand-rolled 16-gauge aluminium body panels over a drilled tubular steel chassis comes with a few modern touches, in recognition of the fact that this is a competition car, not a machine for the public highway.
As such each C-type Continuation gets a race harness, rollover protection and fire extinguisher system – along with all the FIA papers you need to go historic racing in series like the Jaguar Classic Challenge. Jaguar Classic says it is also planning a racing-inspired celebration event for the C-type Continuation owners in 2022.
It certainly looks the part, and after 1000 miles of high-speed durability testing should perform like the Le Mans winner that sired it. Seventy years on from the landmark Jaguar’s debut Le Mans win, the C-type lives on.