A best of British throwback: Jaguar making 25 'new' D-Types
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The 1950s Jaguar D-Type is the British marque's greatest race car of all time. And in 2018, it's coming back.
The manufacturer's specialist vintage car restoring division - Jaguar Classic Works - is re-starting production of the iconic race car in Coventry, some 62 years after the last of the original models came off the assembly line.
Jaguar is promising that each of the 25 continuation cars will be 'period correct', meticulously hand built and cost 'in excess of £1 million' (NZ$1.9 million). And while that sounds expensive, it's still some £15 million (NZ$28 million) less than one of the original examples that won the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans in the mid 1950s.
The first of the reproduced legends will be shown at the Salon Retromobile classic car show in Paris this week, though Jaguar says it's only an 'engineering prototype' it will use as a starting point to create the other exotic road racers.
The specialist Warwickshire division has already masterminded the reproduction of nine £1 million Jaguar XKSS models (based on the D-Type racer) that were originally lost in a Coventry factory fire in 1957, six missing Lightweight E-Types and a variety of vintage Land Rover projects.
It says it will commence the D-Type build process this year.
The aim is the complete the manufacturer's intended consignment of 100 D-Types more than 60 years ago, which fell 25 models short when the production of the vehicles was abruptly ended in 1957 when the British marque decided to temporarily retire from racing.
In the hands of the factory Jaguar Cars race team, the D-Type - which was built from 1954 - first took victory at the ill-fated 1955 instalment of the French 24 hour endurance race, which saw 83 spectators and driver Pierre Bouillin lose their lives at Le Mans when racer's Mercedes-Benz careered off the track and into onlooking fans.
D-Type went on to win the next two 24 Hours of Le Mans, though under the privateer entry of Scottish outfit Ecurie Ecosse based in Edinburgh.
Just like the three cars that took the chequered flag at Le Mans' Circuit de la Sarthe, the continuation cars will feature the six-cylinder XK engine and be created to 'authentic, original specification' - though each one will be finished to the exacting request of the customer.
Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director, said: 'The Jaguar D-Type is one of the most iconic and beautiful competition cars of all time, with an outstanding record in the world's toughest motor races. And it's just as spectacular today.
'The opportunity to continue the D-Type's success story, by completing its planned production run in Coventry, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime projects that our world-class experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic are proud to fulfill.'
A Jaguar spokesman told This is Money that 'pricing is dependent on specification and is confidential between Jaguar Classic Works and its clients' but said the typical cost for each built would be 'in excess of £1 million'.
While that's a staggering fee, it's some way short of the price enthusiasts are willing to pay for the original models today.
For instance, a 1954 works D-Type raced by Stirling Moss that year was due to be sold by RM Sotheby's in Arizona last month for between $12 million (£8.6 million) and $15 million (£10.75 million), though like another D-Type available in a Gooding sale at the same event it failed to meet its reserve.
If you thought that was a hefty asking price, the 1956 Le Mans winning car became the then most expensive British car of all time when it went under the hammer for $21.78 million (£16.64 million) in 2016.
Despite the gulf in value, Jaguar Classic is said to be going to 'painstaking' lengths to reproduce the cars in the most bona fide fashion.
Mechanics will have exclusive access to original Jaguar engineering drawings and records to ensures each new D-type will be built to the precise specifications laid down by competitions manager Lofty England and his engineers in the 1950s.
D-type clients will also be able to decide if they want the 1954 to 1955 Shortnose specification or the 1956-onward Longnose bodywork.
The engineering prototype set to be displayed later this week is based on the 1956 Longnose spec (the same as the car we took a high-speed passenger ride in at Silverstone in 2016), identifiable by its extended bonnet, enormous tail fin, wide-angle cylinder head and quick-change brake calipers.
Commenting on the continuation project, Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic engineering manager, added: 'Recreating the nine D-type-derived XKSSs was hugely satisfying, and an even bigger technical challenge than the six missing Lightweight E-types, but lessons learned from the XKSS project have given us a head start on the final 25 D-types.
'Each one will be absolutely correct, down to the very last detail, just as Jaguar's Competitions Department intended.'
- Daily Mail
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