Jaguar's D-Type sportscar

Show anyone with a passing interest in cars a photograph of a D-Type, and chances are they'll correctly identify it as Jaguar's seminal sports-racing car of the 1950s, so distinctive is its shape, and so well known its reputation. The fact that the D-Type's profile is similar to the later E-Type Jaguars has helped keep this shape in the public's eye for over five decades, and interest in both the competition D-Type and roadgoing E-Type shows no sign of flagging.

The D-Type was penned to take over from the successful C-Type at sportscar events such as Le Mans, where the earlier car had performed with great success early in the 1950s. To continue taking the fight to Ferrari and Aston Martin, Jaguar needed something new, and the D-Type was to be that car, a design that would ultimately feature on track in either longnose, or shortnose, form.

Perhaps the most famous victory for the D-Type was at the 1955 race at the Circuit de La Sarthe, where Hawthorn's British Racing Green Jaguar registration 774 RW took the flag. This is a new website, and will be built up over time as time allows. Both factory original and replica D-Types will be featured here, along with some of their well-known drivers.
Jaguar D Type

Background to the D-Type (XKD)

Jaguar D-Type
The Jaguar racing bloodline
To understand why Jaguar developed the D-Type, it is necessary to look further back in time, to 1950 to be exact. Jaguar had enjoyed some success in competitive events following WW2 with their new XK120 sports car, and realised that on-track success was a good way of promoting their road-going products to the public at large. Factory involvement was gathering momentum in the sport, and it became clear to Jaguar that to successfully enter these events, factory-entered teams would be the way forward (as opposed to supporting private entrants).

1950 would see the launch of the XK120C, soon shortened to C-Type, after a development period of only months at Browns Lane, home to Jaguars until quite recently. Power came courtesy of the 120's 6 cylinder XK unit, breathed on slightly to bring the power output over the 200bhp mark. Streamlining for speed was much in evidence with the curvaceous C-Type, with its low frontal area and headlamps fitted behind flush-mounted covers. It had a tubular frame, and independent front suspension with a trailing link at the rear. The C's competition debut occurred in the 1951 Le Mans race, where three works cars took the start. Two would expire part-way through the race due to problems with an oil pipe, but the remaining car would take the overall win, on the car's first Le Mans outing.

Success in the Tourist Trophy would come later that same year for the C-Type, while the road-going XK120 was doing rather well in the world of rallying, with wins in the Liege-Rome-Liege and Alpine rallies, to name just two.

1952 would be a year of mixed fortunes for the C-Type and Jaguar's competitions team. Stirling Moss and the company's chief test driver Norman Dewis, drove an experimental C-Type in the '51 Mille Miglia through the north and central areas of Italy (an event that Moss would win four years later when driving for Mercedes Benz). The car entered was special as it ran a new type of braking system, the disc brake, and was being tested secretly in this competitive outing. The car didn't complete the race due to a problem with the steering, but the test had proved one thing, that the new disc brakes afforded the C-Type a useful advantage on the track.

It was decided that a substantially revised bodyshell would be used at the forthcoming Le Mans, and was hurriedly introduced with only minimal testing. Airflow into the car's radiator was seriously compromised causing overheating of the XK's engine, with all three cars retiring during the race because of this. Disc brakes were fitted for the Reims event, and Jaguar took the win.

For the 1953 season Jaguar used the original '51 styling for the bodywork, with the fully developed disc braking system taking care of retardation, under the car's lightened skin. Engine power was up to 220bhp, which, combined with the car's superior brakes when compared to its rivals, earnt Jaguar a first, second, and fourth at that year's Le Mans. A first and fourth was won by the cars at Reims, in addition to further wins at other venues.

Success though was not taken for granted, and in 1954 work began on the advantages of using a monocoque construction for a racing car, incorporating aircraft-style technologies such as magnesium alloy for the frame. A test hack was built and proved successful in testing, which included a high-speed run at Jabbeke where it exceeded 178mph on the long straight. This car's construction, and the materials that went in to it, would form the basis of a new sportscar for the Jaguar racing team, the D-Type.

My plan is to expand this site over time to include more information on the various D-Types produced, including the many replicas that have been created since the original D Type ended production, and the final XKSS road cars were sold off. In the meantime, if you are looking for specialist D Type parts, used or new spares, books, models or information, have a look at the eBay auction listings alongside -->

Jaguar sportscar at Oulton Park

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