Jaguar goes back to the future to continue C-type story
ONE of the most intriguing niches in recent years has been the emergence of 'continuation' cars, writes William Scholes.
This is where a manufacturer builds a brand new version of an old, much-loved and by-now hugely valuable model from its back catalogue.
This seems to me to be a philosophical dead-end, like trying to make a better phone system out of two tin cans and a piece of string when everyone has a smartphone.
Nonetheless, there is something fascinating about these projects, though that is probably as much to do with the cars so far given this highly exclusive treatment.
Aston Martin and Jaguar are the leading exponents of the factory-built continuation car. That gives the end product unrivalled authenticity. Bentley is another - its 1930s 'Blower' continuation featured in these pages recently.
And while the cars themselves may be classic designs from a bygone era, cutting-edge engineering is central to their creation, with well preserved originals painstakingly - and expensively - 3D scanned and blueprinted to give the contemporary craftsmen plans of such accuracy that their predecessors wouldn't believe it.
Trawling the company's archives has also yielded information from the 1950s which is helping to guide the 2021 building process.
The stunning Jaguar C-type is the latest to get the continuation treatment. The original was built between 1951 and 1953 and was highly advanced for its time, pioneering disc brakes.
It was a highly successful racing car, too, with two outright victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours, in 1951 and 1953, granting the C-type legend status among aficionados.
Stirling Moss drove a C-type to victory in the 1951 RAC Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod outside Lisburn.
By then, he was driving for the factory 'works' team, having firmly caught the attention of Jaguar boss William Lyons at the previous year's event, which he won in a privately-entered Jaguar XK120 (the C-type, also known as the XK120-C, is essentially an XK120 shorn of road car accoutrements, with a tubular steel frame draped in a lightweight aluminium body).
The company says the continuation programme will "allow historic motor racing enthusiasts to purchase a new factory-built example of the ultimate 1953 disc-braked 'works' C-type direct from Jaguar for the first time".
Just 53 C-types were built in-period. Jaguar plans to build eight 'new' examples, each in 1953 Le Mans-winning specification, with a 220bhp 3.4-litre straight-six engine fed by triple Weber carburettors.
Whatever the merits of continuation cars, there is no doubt that the C-type remains a truly beautiful car and, 70 years on, evokes a golden period of sports car racing.