1951-53 Jaguar XK120C "C-Type"
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History of the car
After the sweet success of Jaguar's hurried XK120, they developed the XK120C, or C-Type, as a endurance racing version. With it, Jaguar embarked on their first racing program aimed at winning the 24 Hours of LeMans outright. On its first attempt and only six weeks after completion, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead won Le Mans in 1951. Jaguar repeated the feat in 1953 with Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt at the wheel.
Motivation for the C-Type came after positive race results from the XK120 which, at the time, was the fastest production car in the world, able of reaching speeds over 120 mph. Three XK120s raced at LeMans in 1950 and proved the car was competitive enough to achieve twelfth place overall. The following year, Jaguar's more purposeful C-Type would dominate.
At the 1951 LeMans race, three C-Types made their debut and faced stiff factory-backed competition from Talbot, Aston Martin and Ferrari. During the race, two entries retired including the team of Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman who set a record average pace of 105.2 mph. With the only remaining C-Type, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead took the overall victory, providing Jaguar with much publicity and acclaim.
The difference between Jaguar's 1950 and 1951 models provided quite a bit of contrast. While both the XK120 and C-Type shared the same general power train, the C-Type supported its upgraded engine with a very different chassis and body.
The C-Type replaced the XK120's steel ladder-type frame with a new tubular design engineered by Bob Knight from 16-gauge tubing with drilled channel-section members and triangulated support. Covering this new chassis was a curvaceous aluminum body designed by aerodynamicist Malcom Sayer. He left a minimum of clearances to give a small frontal area. The body could also be opened up as both the front and rear sections were one-piece.
Shortly after their Lemans victory, Jaguar made plans and to sell the C-Type as a production racecar. In total, 53 C-Types were made which resemble the works racers of 1951. These enabled privateers to buy the car for £1,500 plus purchase tax.
After winning its initial race in 1951, the C-Type, and subsequent D-Type, dominated future LeMans events. In total, five outright victories were achieved during the decade.
The XK120C or “C-Type” Jaguar is considered one of the most desirable and legendary sports racing cars of all time. In keeping with the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” marketing strategy, it was created specifically to win the 1951 24 hours Le Mans - which it did. In 1952, the Le Mans works team appeared with redesigned but fatally flawed low-drag bodies, and all cars had to withdraw with overheating problems.
However, the story does not end there. In 1953 the factory produced a refined version of the 1951 winner, including revolutionary disc brakes, and as a result, swept Le Mans with a 1st, 2nd and 4th finish. The winning car (Duncan Hamilton & Tony Rolt) averaged a record 105.85 m.p.h. for 24 hours! Of the 53 C-Types built between 1951 and 1953, eleven of them were factory team cars and the rest sold to privateers. Many of the 46 surviving C-Types are still active in historic racing – some re-bodied, re-powered and some even sporting a new space frame. An “original” is valued today in the region of £1.5 million (and several times that with the right provenance).
Special thanks for the concession of the car to my friend Giannantonio Massaroti.,collector,driver and great quality person.