Designed and built with the sole intention of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the renowned Jaguar C-type was a development of the already successful XK 120. Though the race car was initially designated XK 120C, in truth little was shared between the two models apart from the drivetrain, and this was uprated with larger exhaust valves, high-lift cams, and larger carburetors. The race car was designed with rack-and-pinion steering, revised suspension, and a lightweight tubular chassis and bodywork construction. Clothed in the voluptuous C-type curves, the new car's potency was promptly proven when, just six weeks after its completion, Peter Whitehead and Peter Walker won the 1951 Le Mans race an immense 67 miles ahead of their competition. Six Jaguar C-types were retained by the works, but the model was also available for sale at some £1,500 plus purchase tax (nearly 50% more than the 120) thus providing a natural progression for privateers already impressed with the XK 120. One such person was Ecurie Ecosse team owner David Murray, who elected to upgrade to C-types following his successful first season of racing in 1951, and began this process with the purchase, through Ecosse driver Ian Stewart, of XKC 006. Stewart won his first outing-the Jersey Road Race-and recorded the fastest lap. During that first season, he totalled 14 wins, including his only win over Stirling Moss. For 1953, XKC 006 was painted Flag Metallic Blue to match the other Ecurie Ecosse cars, and racked up another five wins. The car was then sold to Dutch driver Hans Davids for 1954, in whose hands it notched up several more good results, and to Bryan Corser, who raced it in 1955 and 1956. So far as we understand, it then passed to Mr. Anthony Barrett-Greene of Staffordshire and to American Mr. Robert Allen. At some point a rear Panhard bar was installed. The car returned to British soil when acquired by the present family owners in 1974. At that time, a sympathetic restoration was undertaken by Lynx Engineering's owner, Chris Keith-Lucas. Work included repaint in the original Eurie Ecosse livery, fitting of a longer-legged back axle, uprating the drum brakes to the discs used on the 1952 C-types, and substituting a "more sporting" D-type cylinder head. At the time Keith-Lucas noted the absence of a car number plate-the distinguishing number is also stamped on the chassis-but he wasn't certain this car ever had one. The car has belonged to the current owners for some 30 years and was enthusiastically campaigned until the mid-1990s. It has been returned to a roadworthy condition for this sale by Mr. Keith-Lucas. The 1952 C-type Ecurie Ecosse is eligible for a variety of events, including the Mille Miglia and the Goodwood Revival, and the Le Mans Classic, in which the car is already entered. Unseen for nine years, this fabulously curvaceous and thrilling car will be welcomed wherever it goes.The needle of the rev counter can be wound to the red zone, and each gear takes the car into a new dimension
|1952 Jaguar C-type Ecurie Ecosse racer
|Original List Price:
|$6,000 (approx.; varied depending on customer spec
|Tune Up Cost:
|$30 (same as XK 120)
|Chassis Number Location:
|right front shock tower and on center of chassis rail behind radiator
|Engine Number Location:
|valley of head in front; also by oil filter housing
|C and D-type Register, [email protected]
This 1952 Jaguar C-type Ecurie Ecosse s/n XKC 006 was sold by Christie’s at its Retromobile auction in Paris on February 11, 2006, for $1,649,638 .
Keith-Lucas is respected by Jaguar specialists, who accept his opinion that XKC 006 is a substantially original C-type. With the distinction of being one of the first three C-types sold by Jaguar to private competitors, its provenance as one of the 50 originally built is unchallenged in the Jaguar community. Further establishing its credibility, its race record has extended from the Jersey win in 1952 to its most recent races in the 1990s.
Taking that into account, it’s a bit surprising that this car did not sell when originally offered for sale at Christie’s in June 2005, though achieving a reported high bid of $1.9 million. Perhaps the owner should have been happy with that result.
Arizona Jaguar expert and C-type registrar Terry Larson thinks XKC 006 could be a bargain at this price and wouldn’t have been surprised to see nearer $2 million. “It’s certainly a good car,” he says.
Larson thinks any one of the three factory lightweights would bring $3-$4 million, and if the Le Mans winner ever comes to market, “It will be very expensive.”
All C-types trade in a rarified atmosphere. Few fully documented cars exist, and these seldom change hands in open auction, more usually in the quiet anonymity of private treaty sales agreements.
This 1952 Jaguar C-type Ecurie Ecosse offers everything an enthusiast collector could possibly want. No one can glimpse the complex and yet simple curves of the aluminum body-calculated rather than sketched by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer-without being moved by its sheer beauty.
With its provenance and performance ability, XKC 006 will be sought by organizers of the most desirable vintage car events in the world. But unlike many other marques at this level, it is truly a dual-use car, just as it was in 1952 when Stewart drove it from the Coventry works to its first win in the Jersey Road Race.
So if the new owner chooses to participate in the Le Mans Classic, he and his passenger can expect to drive from Coventry to Le Sarthe, then be competitive the next day.
If instead the car has returned to the United States as rumored, we can only hope that the new owner will join the C-type and D-type enthusiasts who actively use their cars. We’ve had the privilege of joining this group, which gathers in Arizona every year for a rapid tour of southwestern backroads.
The Jagusr C-type experience is unique. Cradled in the worn dark green leather that pads the cockpit, grasping the steering wheel that has been polished smooth on thousands of corners, you can hear the car speak its heritage.
The engine’s deep-throated energy pulses through the tube-frame chassis, setting the metal panels vibrating at a low frequency. The thin gearshift knob seems almost too small to control the power, but clicks easily into gear; the clutch engages smoothly, and the car seems content to idle quietly through traffic.
But once out “on a dark desert highway,” the needle of the rev counter can be wound to the red zone, and each gear takes the car into a new dimension. As the wind whistles through the cockpit and creeps under the goggles, it takes little imagination to visualize Tertre Rouge disappearing behind the car as it howls down the Mulsanne Straight.
The only experience that even comes close is that of driving a D-type sibling. But where the C-type is an open-cockpit, prop-engine fighter, the D-type feels more like a jet, with separate cockpits and the windshield wrapped tightly around the driver’s head.
But the driving difference is slight compared to the experience of the passenger in each car. The C-type is as comfortable for the co-driver as any two-seat roadster of the period. But the D-type-purpose-built for racing-forces the passenger to assume a yoga position, cross-legged because the exhaust manifold has stolen the space where the footwell should be. The cramped position and floor heat limit riding time significantly.
The C- and D-type experiences can be duplicated in excellent replicas built around modern Jaguar drivetrains that sell for one-tenth the cost of the real thing. But there is no substitute for the knowledge that the leather of the seats and the wooden wheel have been touched by giants, 1950s drivers who took these cars to victory, and who, in turn, were made great by their achievements.
Those who can afford the initiation fee to become custodians of these beasts have no doubt that every dollar is well spent. In the opinion of former auctioneer Simon Kidston, as the values of similar sports racers like Ferrari 250TRs head for $10 million, the Jaguar C-type, with its low production, unimpeachable heritage, and street/race capabilities, may be seriously underpriced.