Jaguar has established itself as a premiere car manufacturer because of the combination of engineering and performance. In addition to road vehicles, the company produced some quality race cars as well. A perfect example is the Jaguar C-Type that was built with the engine of the XK120. This made it extremely successful on the track and we’re looking into the car’s history.
The C-Type was built in 1951, with the C being short for ‘competition.’ This demonstrated Jaguar were keen to design a winning car from the beginning. William Heynes, Bob Knight and Malcolm Sayer designed a lightweight aluminium body and tubular frame. The body was developed in the barchetta style, which meant it had an open roof. The car didn’t have any carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles. The aerodynamic shape made it perfect for a race track.
In order to make the C-Type powerful, it was fitted with the XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam straight-6 engine. The engine was tuned to produce 205 bhp. Early versions of the car were fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes, while the later version had triple twin-choke Weber carburettors.
In 1951, the C-Type won the first race it participated in. The success continued in 1953, with C-types placing second and fourth on the Mulsanne Straight. The C-Type’s biggest accomplishment came at the Le Mans 24 hours race as it won twice. On one occasion, the car was being driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt, with the team winning the race at 105.85 mph. This was the first time Le Mans had been won at an average speed of over 100 mph. The C-Type’s final appearance at Le Mans occurred in 1954, with it coming in fourth place.
Jaguar accomplished their goal of creating a triumphant racing vehicle. The C-Type will be remembered as one of the greatest racing cars in history.