The technicians' view

D-type voices

Stan Sproat joined Ecurie Ecosse in 1952 and became its chief mechanic two years later. Thus he was there throughout the team’s glory years.

“I went to Jaguar to pick up our first D-type and drove it straight to Silverstone, where it ran a bearing; the second car had no oil filter and I had to use one off a Leyland lorry. The first car was actually owned by Major Thompson of the Ben Shipping Line and we took this car to Reims in 1956, where it broke a halfshaft on the last lap. Because of its limited-slip diff, it was able to crawl across the line to finish fourth.

“At Le Mans, we won, of course, but it was another near-run thing. I had already lowered the compression ratio because of the poor-quality fuel, but it was still too high and number five piston, together with the combustion chamber, was almost burnt out. The car only just made it.

‘We also took a car to the Mille Miglia in 1957 for Ron Flockhart to drive. In an attempt to fool the spectators we painted the nose red to kid them that it was a Ferrari corning — that way they would get out of the way. However, the organisers objected and we had to remove it. Ron went well, but the car’s rear body structure broke up.

“After Le Mans that year, we drove straight to Monza for the Race of Two Worlds — and did very well: Jack Fairman averaged over 150mph, I think, and actually led on lap one.

“Our drivers were a mixed bunch: Flockhart was reliable but very fussy, Jock Lawrence didn’t drive enough, Ninian Sanderson was erratic, Bueb was fast and Jimmy Stewart very fast. Masten Gregory was our quickest driver and, of course, Archie Scott-Brown, who drove for us in Sweden in 1957 and got the car up to third before problems dropped it back. Innes Ireland joined us in ’58, but he was no quicker than Flockhart then.”

Alan George built racing gearboxes for Jaguar and worked for the firm for 26 years.

“All the gearboxes were built up from components supplied from the machine shop; the D-type bottom- and second-gear synchromesh was based on a contemporary Rover ‘box. Most of the time just three of us built all the competition gearboxes, although I missed the first D-type as I was doing my national service. Eventually I left because Jaguar was very mean: our company pension was something like £69 per annum!”