Le Mans legend

The Jaguar D-Type is one of the most dominant race cars in the history of Le Mans, with a mission that was highly successful. It was initially designed solely to win the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. Despite its predecessor, the C-Type, defeating Europe’s best racers in the Le Mans competitions of 1951 and 1953, the Jaguar team manager believed a new car was needed.

The D-Type was stronger, lighter, and faster than its predecessor, equipped with a 245 horsepower XK engine. Between 1954 and 1957, the D-Type won the Le Mans race three times in four years. The design goal of the D-Type had only one focus—to win the world’s most prestigious endurance race. 

From 1955 to 1957, the D-Type realized this prophecy by winning the Le Mans race three consecutive times. With its elongated bonnet, futuristic tail fin, and monocoque construction, the D-Type’s exquisite design changed the game of racing performance. Its legendary 3.4-liter inline-six XK engine, equipped with three Weber 45 DCO3 carburetors, was meticulously crafted by a technician following strict standards. The short-nose engine could output 295 horsepower, while the long-nose versions could produce up to 320 horsepower. Its sleek low-drag body maximized the potential of the XK engine, reaching speeds over 170 miles per hour, while also being capable of road travel. In fact, factory cars were known to have driven from Coventry to Dover, boarded a ferry, and then driven on main roads to the French circuit.

This iconic model was produced from 1954 to 1956, sharing many mechanical parts with its predecessor, such as the front and rear suspension and innovative all-round disc brakes. In May 1954, the prototype was completed and immediately sent to France for the Le Mans test races, where it broke the lap record by a full five seconds. Upon returning to Coventry, it was used for further development work while also producing three D-Type racers for the competition itself. Before withdrawing from racing at the end of the 1956 season, the company had planned to produce 100 D-Type models.

However, only 75 were completed, with the remaining 25 chassis set to be converted into the road-going XKSS versions. Unfortunately, a fire at the Browns Lane factory nearly destroyed all the chassis. Yet, 62 years later, the company announced it would complete the original production run of 100 cars by meticulously hand-building 25 new models.

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