The Jaguar C-type Continuation: in honor of the legendary model’s racing history, Jaguar Classic is bringing a very restricted run of new C-type Continuations to life, 70 years after it originally raced to win at the Le Mans 24 Hours. On Friday, September 3rd, the historic car will make its public premiere at Hampton Court Palace’s renowned Concours d’Elegance.
The C-type Continuation will be hand-built at Jaguar Classic Works in Coventry to the specifications of the 1953 ‘works’ C-types that dominated that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, giving the C-type its second Le Mans victory and extending the company’s string of racing triumphs.
For the Continuation’s precise specification, the Jaguar Classic team carefully studied the history of the C-type, bringing Jaguar’s legacy to life via contemporary technology and technical skills. This involves using period-appropriate techniques and construction approaches.
The C-type was designed by Malcolm Sayer, a famous Jaguar Cars designer, aerodynamicist, engineering genius, and artist, and it initially raced in 1951, winning at Le Mans for the first time. Its ground-breaking slippery form contributed to a record-breaking average speed of 93.495 mph.
The C-type, on the other hand, is noteworthy for being the first car to utilize disc brakes, which debuted in 1952. They contributed to C-types winning the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hour, with first and second-place finishes and a record-breaking average speed of 105.841 miles per hour, because of their development with Dunlop and improvements to the engine and suspension. This was the first time the race had been finished with an average speed of more than 100 mph.
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Jaguar C-type: a history of success
Twelve Jaguar employees came at the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours with a trio of C-types, which had been designed, developed, and manufactured in only six months after driving from the UK in the competing vehicles.
The C-type won the Le Mans 24 Hours in its inaugural year, 1951, the first of many Jaguar wins in racing. Three vehicles were entered: Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and Clemente Biondetti, and Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead, who would go on to win the race.
The C-type was designed with a drilled tubular chassis frame to prioritize weight savings, and it was a significant advance over the XK120 in every way. Along with the inaugural use of disc brakes, other advancements included the adoption of 16-inch 60-spoke wire wheels on 1953 works vehicles to enhance brake cooling. Meanwhile, improvements such as the use of a Panhard rod for the rear suspension enhanced the vehicle, allowing the C-type to reach its final form in 1953.
The upgraded C-type established a new 24-hour average speed record of 105.85mph in the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, which was a considerable improvement over the C-previous type’s record of 93.49mph set in 1951.
The installation of three Weber 40DCO3 carburetors, which increased the 3.4-liter straight-six engine’s horsepower from 200 to 220, contributed to this achievement. The increased power, coupled with the first use of disc brakes and a lighter body, helped the Jaguar win its second Le Mans race.
The bonnet vent directs air straight into the carburetors at the top of the engine bay, with the help of an intricately designed air box – just one of several unique touches on the 1953 car that will be shared with all C-type Continuations – is a tell-tale clue that identifies 1953 specification models.
The winning vehicle of 1953, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt, paved the way for the widespread use of disc brakes in racing and on the road. Jaguar’s technical breakthroughs would set the tone for the whole industry, using its racing expertise to enhance everyone’s driving experience.
The C-type Continuation was built using original drawings from the Jaguar archives
To influence the way the C-type Continuation should be constructed, its specification, and it’s racing capability, a thorough dive into the C-type’s history and legacy was needed. Before physical development could begin, almost two years of data collection were necessary, launching what would become a treasure hunt through Jaguar’s archives, sketches, papers, and photographs to piece together how to create this legendary vehicle in the twenty-first century.
The team was required to examine the original engineering ledger in addition to utilizing accessible original drawings and examining in-period components. To completely digitize all the team needed to know, copy typists were hired. On the original ledger, there were almost 2,000 items recorded. Jaguar’s current staff of extremely experienced engineers had to double-check all of this information.
Norman Dewis OBE (1920–2019), a former Jaguar Cars test driver and engineer, gave important advice on the construction process, and the crew had access to an example C-type and photos, as well as Malcolm Sayer’s ideas for the slim body, to assist create a ‘Car Zero.’
The combination of all of this data allowed for the creation of a 3D CAD (computer-aided design) model — the first time a Jaguar Classic Continuation whole car has been built in this manner. It started with the main body components and general structure to give important images to the engineers and verify that everything matched up to the original information.
Malcolm Sayers’ initial ideas may be verified using current methods. The state-of-the-art tools in Jaguar Cars’ arsenal today helped to verify the original C-type’s originality and inventiveness.
Jaguar C-type Continuation specs are as close as the original as possible
The first C-type Continuation vehicles will be constructed in anticipation of a racing-themed celebratory event in 2022 for its owners. Each example will be built to the exact specifications of the works team car that won the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, including the 3.4-liter straight-six engine with triple Weber 40DCO3 carburetors and 220bhp, as well as the ground-breaking disc brakes that contributed to the race’s record-breaking victory.
The Weber carburetors are all carefully reconditioned to an exacting level for the 3.4-liter straight-six engine, which takes nine months to build. Other features in the engine compartment, such as the Plessey hydraulic pump on the gearbox that pumps hydraulic fluid into the brakes, are in-period.
The original-spec clocks and gauges show the amount of time and effort that goes into making a C-type Continuation. They are not only true to the originals, but the way they are incorporated – including the surrounding switches – is an example of Jaguar Classic engineers’ exquisite and sensitive attention to detail in creating the ideal exemplar.
This technique is also reflected in the C-type Continuation’s ignition switch. The carefully re-engineered component duplicates the original’s start-up process, using dependable and high-quality components to guarantee that everything works as it should every time. The job of meticulously replicating the rev counter in front of the driver, particularly the way it revs counter-clockwise, was likewise completed with authenticity and originality in mind.
To guarantee authenticity while also offering high quality and dependable finish for owners, materials for the inside of all C-type Continuations have been selected that respect and reference the original’s history, easily and successfully combining old with modern. The cockpit is dressed in Hardura trim, which has been retrimmed to a new level not seen on the original C-type but is trimmed in silver to recall the time item.
The seats are upholstered by Bridge of WeirTM and come with racing harnesses, which are mounted on a specially built component behind the rear bulkhead to meet with FIA standards. Customers may select the famous Jaguar badging if they want it, but a Bluemel steering wheel remains faithful to the original with no roundel attached to the center – it was removed from the original racing cars to minimize glare and reflections.
The Jaguar Classic Challenge, which races at Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps, and Silverstone, accepts all C-type Continuations, which are FIA-approved and eligible for competing in historic racing championships. The C-type Continuations will be equipped with an FIA-approved Harness Retention System and rollover protection, which will be efficiently incorporated into the rear bulkhead, comforting for those customers who just want to enjoy on-track or closed-road usage.
The careful paint procedure, which uses contemporary water-based paint and Jaguar badging, takes one week to complete.