Jaguar has announced that it will restart production of the D-type racing car for the first time in over 60 years.
The luxury motor company will hand-build just 25 new models of the classic D-type, one of which was debuted at the Salon Rétromobile show in Paris last week.
It has been 62 years since the last D-type was built. At the time, Jaguar had planned to manufacture 100 models, but only managed to build 75.
By restarting production of the iconic sports car with 25 all-new, period-correct models, the company is finally fulfilling its original aim.
Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic division.
The new D-type models will be engineered at Jaguar Land Rover’s purpose-built Classic Works facility in Coventry, England.
Powered by a six-cylinder XK engine, the sports car famously won the Le Mans 24 Hours race three times between 1955 and 1957, and each of the 2018 models will be created to match these authentic, original specifications.
As it stands, the engineering prototype is the 1956 Longnose specification, featuring the recognisable extended bonnet, characteristic tail fin behind the driver’s head, wide-angle cylinder head and quick-change brake callipers.
D-type clients will also be able to choose between a 1955-specification Shortnose or 1956-specification Longnose bodywork.
Jaguar did the same thing back in 2014 with its iconic E-type car. Having had the original objective of building 18 Special GT E-type Cars in 1963, the company only made 12.
It, therefore, restarted production 50 years later, creating the remaining six “missing” vehicles as exact reproductions of the original 12 cars produced in 1963. They also went on to build nine XKSSs in 2017-18 that were originally destroyed along with most of the necessary tooling in a fire at Browns Lane factory.
Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic Engineering Manager, said,
Jaguar then electrified the E-type model three years later, in September 2017, in a bid to “future-proof classic-car ownership”.
The Jaguar XJ-S is one of the most stylish sports touring cars in the world. It is entirely happy to be driven daily, whilst in great comfort and class. Owning an XJ-S marks you out as an individualist with impeccable taste. The feeling of grandeur you get while sitting in the cockpit wrapped in fine leather, wood and wool. Driving one makes you feel like you’re the king of the road, especially with KWE’s perfected steering, brakes and suspension set-up, ensuring you stay flat and low on the tarmac, while taking the sharpest of corners effortlessly. The all-aluminium V12 is the smoothest around – and one of the most reliable when properly restored and maintained.
– Dr C.S., Swindon, XJS Upgrade
The XJS is a great British classic that really stands out above the rest, that is why we at KWE are so dedicated and passionate about restoring these marvellous machines, transforming them into reliable, safe and excellent performing classic masterpieces.
– James May, BBC Top Gear
Maybe this is why we have seen our international clientele grow in recent years, especially from the U.S. This could also be down to the ever-growing investment value of a restored British classic like the XJS. We applaud our American clients that share our enthusiasm in making the XJS ‘the car it should’ve been’!
We have restored over 350 XJSs covering all models, and gained over 15 years specialist experience, specifically on the XJS. KWE prides itself on being the largest and most experienced XJS specialist in world, bringing them up to ‘better than new’ standards. We have access to a wealth of Jaguar knowledge and genuine new and restored parts. All KWE cars have fully restored and uprated aircon systems. KWE offers a range of modernisations – better lighting, remote door unlock and boot release, one-touch window drop, daylight running lights, parking sensors, modern Bluetooth audio and bespoke solutions to suit your specific requirements.
Typical turn-round time is 20 weeks, depending on level of restoration.
We make the transport of US-registered cars to the UK easy with a door to door service via our trusted and vetted transportation partner CARS Europe.
We can offer a purchasing service in the US if customers do not already own one. There are no regulatory issues where the car is bought in the US, restored in the UK and returned. There are some great examples available on the US market, and at great prices compared to the UK and Europe at this time.
KWE will be offering support via appointed US service shops. There is also a good range of Jaguar parts suppliers in the US. But right now there are good specialist Jaguar shops around – and the car’s design is fairly simple, not requiring special equipment for maintenance (unlike modern cars)!
KWE offer a range of performance enhancements for the V12 engines including sports stainless steel exhaust systems, digital engine management, free-flow inlet systems etc
If you already own an XJS you can order a restoration by us right now! Contact us today to start your XJS journey.
Our California-based correspondent and friend Rhett Redelings elegantly explains what makes the XJS so special, and why he would choose the XJS over other classic cars available. Click the links below to find out what he has to say about these magnificent classics:Guest blog post vol. 1: What makes the Jaguar XJ-S special?
Guest blog vol.2: Why choose the Jaguar XJ-S over other classic cars?
It’s been a while since our last exhibition, so we are thrilled to announce that KWE will exhibiting at the NEC Classic Motor Show on the 10th – 12th November.
We will be showcasing our fully restored XJS V12 Convertible, which underwent a complete restoration.
We look forward to seeing you there, come and visit us at our stand (2-455), we will be located in hall 2 stand 455 near the Silverstone auction.
If you haven’t already, book your tickets on the NEC website: http://www.necclassicmotorshow.com/
Knowles-Wilkins Engineering (KWE) Ltd has reached its 15th Anniversary. From being very much new kids on the block back on 2002, we have become well known at home and abroad for our Jaguar XJS restoration and modernisation work. Owners Chris and Theresa Knowles started the company from their home and, perhaps surprisingly, took three major orders in the first two months, appeared on Top Gear twice and turned over around £100,000 before moving the business (and home) to Newbury, Berkshire in 2004. Since then we have restored over 300 cars, most with our admired full suspension/brakes/steering upgrade package.
We currently employ 10 staff and occupy three very busy premises on Greenham Business Park, and are currently recruiting. We would like to thank all of our past and present customers for their continued support and love for the Jaguar.
We have expanded our works to include XK, all XJ saloons, E Types and Aston Martin DB7s. We are continuing to develop, improve and revitalise these astounding classic and future classic cars.
KWE are now offering servicing for Jaguar X300, X308, X-Type, S-Type, XK8/R.
Yesterday, KWE had a visit from a customer who brought his beautifully restored Series 3 Jaguar E type for us to look over. It recently had a brand new late 6 litre fuel injected engine, with AJ6 Engineering power and torque enhancements installed by another company.
Unfortunately, the engine was not running smoothly at all, suffering from throttle lag among other things that were affecting its performance and efficiency. Luckily for him, AJ6 Engineering pointed him in the direction of KWE, who was able to rectify the issues with their specialist knowledge of the V12 engine.
After diagnosing the problem, KWE was able to fix the throttle lag issue within a couple of hours, resulting in a much smoother and responsive drive, while also significantly reducing the emissions at the same time, with some smart adjustments to the ECU.
When the E-type came in to the KWE workshop, the emissions test was reading 7.9% CO, just before leaving it was down to 0.3% CO, which is an incredible reading for a car running a 6 litre V12 engine!
We asked the proud owner to give us a few words on his marvellous machine:
“My V12 Roadster is the 4th E-type I have owned, and by far the best (and that includes a restored and upgraded early Series 1 3.8). When this Series 3 was restored it was re-built with a new factory fresh fuel injected 6.0 litre V12 which included upgrades from Aj6 Engineering in the form of their Torque Plus kit and larger throttle bodies to accompany their TT exhaust system. In all, giving a significant increase in power and torque. Not to mention a V12 that sounds wonderful! With all the suspension upgraded to include adjustable dampers and neoprene bushes, upgraded XJS brakes, an XJS 2.88 LSD diff it makes this 1974 car feel appropriately up-dated in every possible department. Just a magnificent car to drive and to own.“
Another happy Jaguar owner driving off in his much smoother running V12 E-type.
If you are experiencing any issues with your V12 engine, arrange a booking with KWE.
Loyalty from customers has fuelled continued growth, making a move to a new facility necessary.
We are pleased to inform you that our workshop is expanding into larger premises, located on Greenham Business Park, just a stones throw away from our current office/workshop. The building is 5000 sq ft and will become our main restoration workshop.
KWE have recently employed more technicians with specialist skillsets, which now means we have more restorations in progress at any one time, so having the extra floor space for manoeuvring and assembling these classic vehicles is an absolute must.
We have also acquired a third building on the estate which is currently being used for dry storage, mainly housing customer vehicles, soon to become KWE’s in-house paint and body shop.
Our existing workshop where our main office will remain is to be turned into our servicing and general repairs workshop, once the facilities are set up we will begin offering our services to customers with new (more than 3 years old) as well as classic models of Jaguar, Daimler and Aston Martin. We expect this side of the business to be up and running by the end of August 2017.
We look forward to continue servicing new and existing customer vehicles in a dedicated fashion.
Our address and telephone numbers remain unchanged. If you would like to be notified of the official launch and receive more details on KWE’s service offerings, please sign up to our newsletter below.
A legendary Jaguar designed by Malcolm Sayers is the third most expensive car ever sold at auction – fetching an eye-watering £16,772,619 ($21,780,000).
MoneySuperMarket has published a list of 17 of the world’s most valuable classic car sales of all time, already the prestigious Jaguar D-Type sold almost a year ago has increased in value. According to the insurance comparison website it is now estimated to be worth £16,835,433, meaning its value has risen by £62,814 in less than 12 months.
A camera is strapped to the back of a D-Type and a microphone fitted to Mike Hawthorn so he can commentate his way around the circuit in 1956 – the result is a rare and revealing treat. Hawthorn delivers his verdict on the track, and on the driving standards.
250 bhp, 3,442 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine with three Weber 45 DCO3 carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle trailing links and transverse torsion bar, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.
28 JULY 1956-The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s most prestigious and legendary endurance race, starts at four o’clock in the afternoon and it’s raining—an inauspicious start to an already exceptionally dangerous motor race. With 60 years of competition history, the starting grid at La Sarthe is utterly jaw-dropping—legends like de Portago, Trintignant, Gendebien, von Trips, Hill, Maglioli, Behra, Fangio, and Castelloti are piloting prototype and production machinery with names like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Talbot, Porsche, Lotus, and Gordini. This is the golden age of motor-racing—the era of an unbroken Mulsanne Straight, mind-bending speeds, and supreme, life-risking danger in pursuit of eternal glory. This won’t be an easy race, and the men on the starting grid, about to sprint across the front stretch and jump into their cars, know it. After all, 49 cars will start the race and only 14 will finish. One man will lose his life.
One of the most stunningly beautiful cars on the grid was the formidable Jaguar D-Type, swathed in traditional Scottish blue with a white cross, the traditional colors of the Ecurie Ecosse outfit. Standing across the track is Ron Flockhart, one of its two drivers, an Edinburgh-born driver who might not have known it, but he was on his way to consecutive Le Mans wins. Quite the adventurer, several years, later, he would make two attempts at breaking the flight record from Sydney, Australia, to London, England, in a war-era P51 Mustang. The Glasgow-born Ninian Sanderson was also on hand, Flockhart’s teammate, and by all accounts his polar opposite. A practical joker with a biting sense of humor, but with the same spirit for adventure . . . a yachtsman, he raced regattas on the Clyde Coast of Scotland.
There they stand, two privateer entries in the competitive field, about to begin a 24-hour battle in conditions that Motor Sport Magazine described in September 1956 as “terrible, with rain and mist, and driving at all, let alone racing, was a nightmare . . . . How drivers can take a quick two or three hours’ sleep and then go on again defies explanation!”
Following their win at Le Mans in 1953, where Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt led a veritable parade of C-Types to three of the top four finishes, Jaguar faced a problem. It was evident that the limits of the XK 120-based race car had been reached, and that to remain competitive at Le Mans, a new car would be required.
While the C-Type had been one of the first cars of its era to employ a steel-tube space-frame, its successor was perhaps the first to claim unitary monocoque construction, with the body and frame combining for structural integrity. The successful and proven 3.4-liter XK engine was retained, but now fitted with triple Weber carburetors good for 245 horsepower. A dry-sump lubrication system was also adapted that reduced height, allowing the engine to be mounted lower, and correspondingly reducing the overall profile and coefficient of drag. It was clear that the design was effective when one of the new cars hit 169 mph on the Mulsanne Straight at the Le Mans trials in April 1954. As the previous Jaguar had been called the C-Type for “competition,” the new Jaguar was dubbed the D-Type.
The D-Type made its debut at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Rolt and Hamilton were tasked with repeating their victory of the prior year. However, all three of Jaguar’s team entries were plagued with firing problems, and two of the D-Types retired before the #14 car of Hamilton and Rolt was adequately sorted to contend. As 4:00 p.m. approached on Sunday afternoon, the D-Type and the powerful 4.9-liter Ferrari 375 Plus driven by Froilan Gonzales and Maurice Trintignant were far ahead of two Cunninghams, a Gordini, and the Garage Francorchamps’ C-Type. After all was said and done, the Ferrari had only a narrow lead over the D-Type, besting the Jaguar in one of the closest Le Mans finishes ever.
Six team cars were constructed for 1954, with chassis numbers in the range of XKD 401 through 406. In 1955, Jaguar began selling team and customer cars with 3.4-liter carbureted engines as the company gradually established the production minimum necessary to satisfy FIA homologation requirements. Fifty-four such cars were eventually built, with chassis numbers starting at XKD 501 (the first privateer team car). The factory simultaneously developed a version of the car for its competition purposes, most immediately recognizable by a longer nose.
Chassis number XKD 501 was the first D-Type production for a private team, sold to the Scottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse, and dispatched on 5 May 1955. A principal factory customer, Ecurie Ecosse was founded in 1951 and successfully ran C-Types through the early 1950s before eventually purchasing several D-Types. XKD 501 was liveried in the team’s signature colors with the St. Andrews Cross emblazoned on the front fenders. It was initially entrusted to driver Jimmy Stewart, brother of the legendary Jackie Stewart. Jimmy unfortunately crashed the D-Type twice during practice in May 1955. Each time, the car was returned to the factory for repairs.
XKD 501 was therefore sidelined during June 1955, when Jaguar entered three longnose D-Types at Le Mans and played an unwitting role in one of motorsports’ most tragic disasters. Three laps into the race, team driver Mike Hawthorn, who had just lapped a much slower Austin-Healey, suddenly turned into the pits. The surprised Healey veered left to avoid hitting Hawthorn, pulling directly into the path of Pierre Levegh, who was driving one of Mercedes-Benzes new 300 SLRs. The SLR careened into the crowd, forever changing motorsports—yet the race continued.
The following morning, while holding 1st and 3rd place, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from the race, and Hawthorn was left alone at the head of the pack, a full five laps ahead of the 2nd place finisher, the Aston Martin DB3S driven by Paul Frere and Peter Collins. The D-Type had won its first Le Mans, but at no small cost to the state of racing.
Meanwhile, XKD 501 appeared at the Leinster Trophy on 9 July, where Desmond Titterington took the car to 9th overall, and 1st in class. Ecosse driver Ninian Sanderson assumed driving duties at the British GP on 17 July, claiming 6th place.
Titterington returned to action in early August, finishing 1st and 2nd at the races at Charterhall, and then enjoyed two 1st place finishes at Snetterton a week later. Sanderson rotated in for a 1st and 2nd place at Crimond, and the two drivers teamed up for a 2nd place finish during the nine-hour race at Goodwood on 20 August. Another 2nd place by Titterington at Aintree on 3 September completed the 1955 season.
During 1956, rule changes mandated the implementation of full-width windscreens, and XKD 501 was so equipped while later receiving the engine from XKD 561 (engine number 2036-9), which the Ecurie Ecosse had acquired in the interim. The car continued to turn in solid performances during the first part of the season, with 3rd place finishes at Aintree and Charterhall, and a 1st and 2nd place at Goodwood on 21 May, while piloted by Ron Flockhart. Flockhart and Sanderson teamed for the 12 Hours of Reims on 30 June, where the D-Type model put on a clinical display. The two Ecosse drivers finished 4th, behind the three factory D-Types at 1-2-3, notably defeating the latest Ferrari TR Spider, and an F1-derived Gordini.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans was held in late July, delayed from its usual June date due to modifications to the circuit intended to make the track safer for both drivers and spectators. The Jaguar factory again entered three D-Types with longnose bodywork, though in the face of the latest rule restrictions, the cars were equipped with fuel injection intended to improve mileage (a new consideration in the wake of reduced fuel allowances). Two carbureted 1955 privateer D-Types were also entered, fielded by the Garage Francorchamps and Ecurie Ecosse. The Scottish entry, this car, was again guided by the team of Sanderson and Flockhart. It was here that XKD 501 turned in its greatest performance, but as Motor Sport related two months later, “everyone had to do 34 laps on 120 liters of fuel, which worked out at approximately 11 mpg, with nothing to spare for emergencies. Naturally, the small cars were sitting pretty while the Jaguars and Aston Martins, Ferraris, and Talbots were doing plenty of worrying.”
Certainly everyone was expecting a repeat of Reims, but it was not quite that simple.
Although Hawthorn in the factory D-Type took an early lead, on the second lap of the race, everything changed with an early accident and two possible winners were eliminated, followed by Hawthorn, who came in after only four hours with a misfire. With 23 hours, 30 minutes still to go, the complete Jaguar team was in trouble, two cars eliminated, and one struggling with a bad fuel line. From a Works standpoint, the race appeared lost and Aston Martin and Ferrari were poised to outrun the older D-Types.
The race report continued: “this left the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar to uphold Coventry honors, and right nobly it did this, for by 5 p.m., it was in the lead and for the rest of the race, it was a game of cat and mouse between Flockhart/Sanderson and Moss/Collins. While Flockhart was driving, he was able to keep ahead of Moss and after 34 laps, when Collins took over the Aston Martin, he made up ground on Sanderson, who took over the Jaguar. Then, the next 34 laps saw the position reversed and the result was that the Scottish Jaguar had the race under its kilt, providing they played their cards wisely. With David Murray in charge of the time-keeping and Wilkie Wilkinson in charge of the pit stops, they could hardly go wrong.”
Certainly, the Aston Martin didn’t quite stand a chance. The D-Type was so exceptionally fast that “Jaguar lapped regularly with nearly 1,000 rpm in hand” without significant fuel concerns, while the Aston had to be red-lined, gear by gear, entering the pits on fumes, simply to keep up. On occasion, Moss and Collins would even slip into neutral well before the end of the Mulsanne Straight and dart behind the Porsches’ slipstreams, all in an effort to save fuel.
By the race’s final lap, however, with just 14 cars remaining in the field, the D-Type had a seven-lap lead on Trintignant and Olivier Gendebien’s Ferrari 625 LM spider, and a narrow lead over Stirling Moss in the Aston. Swaters’ D-Type held at 4th place, and this is the order in which the cars finished, with XKD 501 claiming its definitive victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
XKD 501 completed 2,507.19 miles at an average speed of 104.47 mph, and a maximum speed of 156.868 mph on the Mulsanne Straight, good enough for 9th in the Index of Performance rankings. In doing so, XKD 501 upheld the D-Type’s dominance despite the adversity faced by the factory cars (to his credit the skilled driver Hawthorn managed to roar his way back to 6th overall). Following the amazing finish at La Sarthe, XKD 501 returned to action in Britain, with a 2nd place at Aintree and 3rd at the Goodwood Trophy Race, but these triumphs paled after its perfect performance in France.
In 1957, Jaguar retired from factory racing altogether and sold its latest longnose D-Types, with several cars acquired by the Ecurie Ecosse. As these 3.8-liter D-Types became the team’s focus, XKD 501 was only occasionally entered in various races, beginning with the Mille Miglia on 12 May, where the car retired early with Flockhart driving. Ecurie again experienced great success at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking 1st and 2nd place, while other D-Type privateers finished 3rd, 4th, and 6th. Even with the Jaguar factory officially retired, the D-Type was still proving to be a dominant force on the world’s biggest stage.
XKD 501’s time in the spotlight faded with these developments, however, and the car elapsed 1957 with a handful of DNFs, as well as 3rd, 6th, and 7th place finishes, punctuated by a final checkered flag at the Goodwood Whitsun Meeting in June. The car was essentially retired after June 1957, and it soon passed to Ecurie Ecosse financier Major Thomson of Peebles, Scotland. In May 1967, the car was demonstrated and presented at the Griffiths Formula 1 race at Oulton Park, driven by Alistair Birrell (a photo of which appears in Andrew Whyte’s 1983 book, D-Type and XKSS: Super Profile).
In October 1970, XKD 501 was sold to Sir Michael Nairn, a fellow Scot, and over the following few years was sympathetically restored with emphasis on retaining its purity and originality to its 1956 Le Mans specifications by Raymond Fielding, as detailed in the September/October 1996 issue of Jaguar World magazine. The engine head and block were returned to Jaguar to be rebuilt, while the suspension and brakes were restored with proper components. Parts were sourced from John Pearson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the D-Type, and a boyhood associate of the factory C-Type teams of the early 1950s. Most of the work was actually performed by ex-HRG/Cooper/Vanwall employee Dick Watson. Sir Nairn then used the car rather frequently, including presentation at the 1996 Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Silverstone Classic.
In 1999, XKD 501 was purchased by the consignor, one of America’s most respected collectors of exceptional sports and racing cars. The new owner retained John Pearson to evaluate and freshen the car as needed for vintage racing applications, where it was presented at the 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning the Jaguar Competition class and the Road & Track Award.
In May 2002, Jaguar World Monthly magazine ran a feature on the car by marque expert Paul Skilleter, where he described his spirited ride:
“With a 0–100 mph time of probably around the 12-second mark, the acceleration combined with the blast of the exhaust and the rush of air over the cockpit made it an exhilarating experience . . . The other aspect of a D-Type [that I noticed] is its solidity of build: sitting comfortably deep within those enfolding curves, you feel nothing vibrate, nothing rattle, nothing flex. Just sit in a D-Type and you know why it won Le Mans.”
Now offered from only its third private owner, XKD 501 checks all the proverbial boxes. It has won the most grueling contest in sports car racing, the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and is a centrifugal component of Jaguar’s three consecutive wins at La Sarthe. The Jaguar has been fastidiously maintained and serviced by just four caretakers, including a restoration by some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts. Almost unique among a run of automobiles that inevitably led hard lives, its history is refreshingly clean, concise, and incredibly well-known.
Chronicled in many books as a permanent part of Le Mans lore, this extremely important Ecurie Ecosse D-Type would crown the finest collections, notable for its history, rarity, and beautifully authentic presentation. Not merely a significant and markedly well-preserved D-Type, nor a star in the forefront of important racing Jaguars, XKD 501 can inarguably be held among the most historic British sports cars ever made. It is a legend among legends.