Jaguar at Shelsley Walsh

At the weekend Shelsley Walsh reverberated to the throaty roar of 6-cylinder racing engines as the XK-powered Jaguar C, D & E Types paraded up and down the illustrious slopes of the Teme Valley. There will no doubt be lots written about the ‘birthday boys’ (the C-Types and E-types) in whose honour the celebration was run. For this reason I have decided to be a little off of the wall and concentrate mainly on the fabulous selection of D-Types at the event.

Brian Eccles' C-Type in the Shelsley Paddock

As a child, I was fortunate to grow up with more than the average interest in these world beating sports-prototypes. My Godfather Bryan Wills is one of the world authorities on building and running D-Types and I have had the pleasure of riding ‘shotgun’ in at least four of them.

The Editor in the passenger seat of XKD560, May 1989

It is appropriate to mention that the D-Type also had a slightly jinxed period history with Shelsley Walsh, and the MAC in particular. In 1954, OKV3 (which ran at Le Mans, and then won the Reims 12hrs that year) was used as a publicity vehicle, and Jaguar requested an entry for works driver Ken Wharton to drive at the August Shelsley. However, Competition Secretary for the MAC Leslie Wilson refused to allow it as ‘the MAC do not accept late entries’. Some things never change!

The D-type was a very special car as, although it started life as a prototype racecar, it was later put into production at Jaguar’s Browns Lane facility. As such, this makes it the worlds first production car with monocoque chassis and the first with all-round disc brakes.

'Whizzo' Williams warms up XKD561

There were three Ds on display at Shelsley in 2011 and they covered pretty much the full spectrum of the variants that were produced over the lifespan of the car. The cars on display were:

OVC 501 – Chassis XKC401
The initial prototype of the short-nose D-type. This car was built by the works for the 1954 Le Mans test day in the April of that year. After the test day it was used by the factory as a test hack, mainly responsible for brake, suspension and fuel injection testing over the next couple of years. The car has never been raced and as such is a perfect example of an early D, complete with the welded front engine frame which was a feature of the first 6 cars built.

MWS 303 – Chassis XKD561
This car, now owned by Dick Skipworth, was a 1955 production short-nose D-Type produced for Ecurie Ecosse and mainly used in club events by Ron Flockhart. It was then sold to current Shelsley commentator Max Trimble who used it on track and road until he suffered a nasty accident in it. The car changed hands a couple of times before turning up in the mid-80s looking quite sorry for itself. Skipworth acquired and restored the car to what it is now, a fine example of a production D.

393 RW – Chassis XKD605
1956 was the Jaguar works’ last assault on the Grand Prix d’Endurance at Le Mans. This car, a full works long-nose, was built specifically for the race and was driven by Hawthorn and Bueb. Unfortunately this popular driver combo weren’t to repeat their 1955 victory as the car suffered from fuel injection problems early in the race. XKD605 has spent most of its life since on static display in museums and demonstrates more than any other the ultimate evolution of the D-type in factory hands.

Comments

  1. Andy Barton says:

    Rivetting:

    The best Jaguar? The Lightweight E with all these wonderful rivets, and what a sound too. Call me a Philistine, but it seemed to be the real racer. No, I’m not saying the Le Mans victories were easy, and it was good to see them celebrated.

    • James says:

      The Lindner Nocker E-Type was stunning wasn’t it Andy? And with David Franklin driving it hard, it was especially impressive. A very loud and racous example of the E-Type line.

      It is a real racer, but was more of a sprint car than an endurance runner in it’s day.

      Check out our youtube channel (TeamRitalin) for videos of Franklin at Shelsley.

  2. “the worlds first production car with monocoque chassis” ?

    Try the 1919 Lancia Lambda. Pre-war the Citroen Traction Avant was a monocoque as was the Vauxhall Ten in the late 30′s and there are more.

    • James says:

      My apologies Mr Chuckle, and I bow to your greater knowledge. That’ll teach me not to only use one book for my research won’t it!?

      Thank you for the comment.

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