D-type snippets

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Production Numbers

Contemporary records indicate that there were 76 ‘short nose’ Ds. Five had XKC chassis numbers, respectively XKC 401 (the prototype) followed by 402-405 (this last car was never completed), while the sixth was the first to be stamped XKD (406). The Production versions started at 509. There was also apparently a glass-fibre experimental vehicle (544) that was supposedly scrapped. Many years later it reappeared with a conventional monocoque.

Sixteen of these cars became XKSS variants, actually unsold renumbered production D-types, and three more were destroyed in the Brown’s Lane fire of February 1957 (565, 571 and 574). One car (543), used for display purposes at dealerships, was also destroyed in the fire but its remains sold on. Two more XKSSs were created by the factory in 1958 — out of 533 for Pierre Chemin and out of 540 for hillclimb specialist Phil Scragg.

The ‘long nose’ cars numbered 11 in total: five in 1955 (504 to 508) and six in ’56 (601 to 606). 604 was written off and scrapped after an accident at Silverstone in ’56, while 602 was also written off, at Le Mans, but its remains were rebuilt into a new 603, which had also been crashed at Le Mans.

Four of these cars used Lucas injection: 601 at Sebring, 602 at Le Mans and 605 at Reims and Le Mans, all in 1956; the other was 606 at Le Mans in ’57. (Early experiments were carried out by 504.)

Rear axles

Criticism of the D-type’s inability to cope with bumpy, windy roads and tracks because of its live rear axle led to experiments with de Dion rear suspension designs. This principle was tried on the original prototype XKC 401 in 1955 and two ‘long nose’ cars, XKD 505 and 604. Despite suffering driveshaft coupling failures, 604 was raced at Silverstone in this form: it crashed and the de Dion unit was subsequently abandoned somewhere at the factory.

Another technical departure was the testing of a five-speed gearbox at Lindley in August 1956. This too suffered a design fault, causing it to jump out of third gear. But in any case, Jaguar had by then decided to pull out of racing, handing the flag to private teams, particularly Ecurie Ecosse.

Oval experiments

The flat-out blind of the 1957 Monzanapolis race on the banked Italian circuit suited the D-type admirably, the Ecurie Ecosse cars of Jack Fairman, Jock Lawrence and Ninian Sanderson finishing fourth, fifth and sixth. As a direct result of this, it is reported that a D-type was tested at Indianapolis oval by roadster ace Pat O’Connor. He lapped at 131.965mph, only 7mph slower than the 1957 qualifying times, and stated that limited chassis changes, bigger tyres and a longer (!) stroke could give the car “a real good chance” in the 500.

In 1958, Ecurie Ecosse returned to Monza with its own hastily created offset Lister-Jaguar and D-type, but neither car fared well.

Engine variants

The destroked XK unit in all its forms was never a success. The 2.5-litre engine at Dundrod in 1954 was the basis for the 2.4 Mkl and developed 190bhp but was never used again in competition.

When the 3-litre limit came into being in 1958, Ecurie Ecosse had already built its own version based on an old MkVII block that gave 234bhp from 2954cc. The factory 2987cc engines gave 254bhp but were plagued by piston failures.

Jaguar tried again in 1959 with a different bore and stroke (85x88mm) based on the BSA Goldstar ‘bike unit designed by Bill Nichols. This 2997cc engine developed between 258 and 294bhp in alloy-block form and with petrol injection for the one-off E2A at Le Mans in 1960. They, too, were fragile and tended to snap their titanium conrods.

One more version, developed by Ecosse’s ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, was based on the 2.4-litre block but used a special Laystall crank. The engine’s dimensions were square (86x86mm) and it gave 270bhp — but only on a very high compression ratio that caused it to blow out its water under load; it ran at Le Mans 1959 in the Tojeiro and failed.

The first 3.8 was developed by Cunningham’s Alfred Momo and fitted to 605 at Sebring in 1957.

Maximum speeds

The top speed of the D-type has always been a matter of conjecture. Quoted figures on the Mulsanne were always slightly suspect as various drivers and pundits have suggested that the cars were still accelerating at the measuring point. Masten Gregory recorded 178.8mph in Duncan Hamilton’s 3.8 car at Le Mans in 1957, but Norman Dewis reckons his narrow-screen car reached 192mph in ’55. Given that the full-width screen probably cost over 10mph, this might just be possible.

The highest officially recorded speed for a D-type was achieved by Thomas Rutherford of Massachusetts. His specially prepared ‘short nose’ had a narrow screen, wheel discs and tailpipes. Fitted with a 3.8-litre engine, it was clocked at 185.47mph at Bonneville in 1960.

Elsewhere, Pat Coundley, wife of D-type and Lister racer John, recorded an FTD of 161.278mph at the Antwerp Speed Trials in May 1964, despite heavy rain, to become Europe’s fastest woman.

Related articles

Related products