The booming business of continuation versions of classic racers reaches its apogee today as Jaguar announces it is putting back into production the D-Type, Britain’s most successful and best-loved Le Mans winner.
Twenty-five newly-built official re-creations, using unused D-Type chassis numbers from the 1950s, are to be built by Jaguar Classic, following on from similar recent exercises with the E-Type Lightweight and the XKSS.
The multi-million-pound creations will be available in either Short or Longnose form and will use the factory’s original engineering drawings to replicate the exact Le Mans-winning spec. Officially, the cars will not be road registerable and will be for use on private roads and racetracks only.
The first engineering prototype, a 1956-spec Longnose with trademark tail fin behind the driver’s head, has its debut today (7 February) at Salon Retromobile in Paris, 62 years after the last D-Type left the Jaguar works.
Originally Jaguar allotted 100 chassis numbers for D-Type production but Jaguar says it made only 75 D-Types in period, leaving 25 chassis numbers unused. Of 25 XKSS “roadgoing D-Types” made nine were destroyed in a fire at Browns Lane.
The D-Type won at Le Mans three times in a row between 1955 and ’57, the first time as a Jaguar works car and then with the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team.
“The opportunity to continue the D-Type’s success story is one of those once-in-a-lifetime projects that our world-class experts are proud to fulfil,” said Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director. “The Jaguar D-Type is one of the most iconic and beautiful competition cars of all time, with an outstanding record in the world’s toughest motor races. And it’s just as spectacular today.”
As prices of the real things go through the roof – a D-Type was sold by RM Sothebys in the US in 2016 for £16.4m – official and period-correct continuation versions of classic British sports racing cars have become hot property.