The Story of XKD 573

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On June 29th, 1956, the new, standard production, short-nose D-type, XKD 573, was handed over to Phil Weaver, head of Jaguar’s “Competitions shop”, for preparation for Le Mans on July 28th/29th. Painted in Belgian yellow, that car, shown here, was loaned by Jaguar to Equipe National Belge and was driven to fourth place overall by Jacques Swaters and Freddie Rouselle, covering 3,816.671 km. at an average speed of 159.028 k.p.h., 218.258 km. behind the winning Ecurie Ecosse D-type of Flockhart and Sanderson.

A total of 37 works D-type modifications were incorporated by the Competitions Shop including: a wide-angle cylinder head, a separate large capacity oil filter, the works “Full-Power” braking system, special single pad, quick-change front callipers, front and rear brake air scoops, a larger dynamo on a special nearside mounting bracket, an 11/16 in. front anti-roll bar instead of ⅝ in. and a ¾ in. rear anti-roll bar on the bottom pair of trailing links (production cars had no rear anti-roll bar). The optional tail fin was added and to comply with that year’s regulations a wide screen and wiper, plastic sloping tonneau cover, wide seats, a passenger side door and 28 ½ gallon instead of standard 37 gallon fuel tanks fitted. Dunlop Stabilia 6.5 x 16 in. tyres were used. In this trim XKD 573 had a start-line weight of 21 cwt.

After Le Mans, XKD 573 was returned to the factory where standard triple-pad callipers and standard cylinder head were replaced before the car was sold to Equipe National Belge.

In 1957, the car was again prepared by the Competitions Shop for Le Mans. A new 3.4-litre Weberised engine, with wide-angled head, was fitted, re-stamped with the original engine number, E-2079-9, which the car still carries. By this time Jaguar had withdrawn from direct racing participation and disposed of most special parts to Ecurie Ecosse, so standard front callipers had to be used, but a lightened type of propshaft was fitted. The 37 gallon tanks were replaced and the bodywork modified slightly again to meet regulations, including the fitting of a hood and tonneau. Once again the car finished fourth, this time driven by Paul Frere and Rouselle, through third place had been in the bag until contact breaker trouble delayed Rouselle out on the circuit. That year the car covered 4,169.237 km. at an average of 173.718 k.p.h.

XKD 573’s subsequent history is obscure until it was acquired by Swiss motoring journalist Gerard Crombac, who sold it in pretty good condition to its present owner, John Coombs, some 10 years ago. Coombs’ then formula 2 mechanic, now No. 1 Elf Team Tyrrell mechanic, Roland Law, rebuilt the car completely in the late ‘60s, since when it has remained unused. Mechanically it is much as raced at Le Mans in 1957, but in 1970 Coombs had Jaguar restore the body to “production”, or “1955” specification, with a wrap-around windscreen. XKD 573 now resides in the display hall at the Jaguar factory.

Specification of the car illustration

Six cylinders in line, 83 mm. x 106 mm. – 3,442 c.c. Two overhead camshafts driven by two-stage chain. Alloy “wide-angle” cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers, cast-iron cylinder block, alloy pistons, 9:1 compression ratio, steel connecting rods, dry-sump lubrication. Three Weber DCOA3, twin-choke, horizontal carburettors, twin SU electric fuel pumps, 37 gallon flexible fuel tanks. Engine output approx. 275 b.h.p. gross at 6,000 r.p.m. Four speed, all-synchromesh Jaguar gearbox, triple plate, Borg and Beck clutch, Salisbury live rear axle with limited-slip differential. Wishbone and torsion bar front suspension with anti-roll bar, rear axle located by top and bottom trailing links with anti-roll bar on bottom pair, A-bracket, transverse torsion bar. Rack and pinion steering. Dunlop disc brakes, three-pad front, two-pad rear plus mechanical handbrake, servo-assistance by propshaft-driven Plessey pump. Length 12 ft. 10 in., width 5 ft. 5 ⅜ in., wheelbase 7 ft. 6 ⅝ in., front track 4 ft. 2 in., rear track 4 ft. 0 in. Weight approx 1 ton. Dunlop alloy wheels, 6.50 x 16 in. Dunlop Racing tyres. Maximum speed up to 180 m.p.h. depending on axle ratio. – C.R.

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