Cohort Outtake: Jaguar D-Type – On The Go, But Not On The Mulsanne Straight

Jaguar D type rq

CC Cohort nifticus posted this shot of a Jaguar D-Type on the go. Now that’s something I would have liked to seen, never mind heard. The D-Type was one of the most successful sports-racing cars of the post-war era, winning 24 hours at Le Mans in 1955, 1956, and 1957; an unprecedented streak. And in terms of its advanced monocoque construction, it paved the way for the legendary E-Type sports car. 

Jaguar D type Le Mans

The overwhelming success of the D-Type was due to its light weight and aerodynamic efficiency, thanks to the very small and low body made possible by employing aeronautical technology. The main body tub was made of sheets of aluminum alloy, and an alloy tubular subframe was attached to the front bulkhead, that carried the engine and front suspension. Malcolm sayer, who had recently left Bristol Aviation, gets the prime credit.

The 3.4 (and later 3.8) XK engine was fed by triple Weber twin choke carbs, and required a new dry sump oiling system in order to lower the big six’s height. It hit 172 mph on the Mulsanne Straight.

Double Le Mans-Winning Racing Team At Bonhams

One of the teams, the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse, transported its D-Types in this custom Commer transport van. The Jags have rudimentary tops in case of inclement weather.

Jaguar XKSS Steve McQueen

Jaguar temporally withdrew from racing at the 1956 season, but had a number of chassis still in the shops. Called the XK-SS, they were modified to be road-going sports cars, and 25 were to be sold. Being street legal allowed them to qualify for the many US sports car races then popular. Actor Steve McQueen bought one for his personal use.

A fire broke out at Browns Lane on the night of February 12, 1957, destroying nine of the XK-SS almost completed. Only sixteen were sold and delivered, but more reproductions have been built since.

Jaguar D type side

Speaking of reproductions, it is of course quite possible (even more than likely) that this car is a reproduction, or tribute. Since all the mechanical parts are fairly easy to come by, it’s mostly a matter of building the body and putting it all together. One outfit (Jaguar Replicas) offers a complete aluminum D-Type for £80,000 ($123,440). I’ll let you be the judge. or just enjoy it for what it is.