Midland luxury car maker Jaguar, are celebrating the 60thanniversary of the launch of the D-type. The car was produced by Jaguar between 1954 and 1957.It made motoring history when it won the Le Mans 24 hour race reaching a top speed of 172.8 mph on the Mulsanne Straight, on three consecutive occasions, in 1955, 1956, and again in 1957.
The total production of the D-type is thought to be eighteen factory team cars, fifty four customer cars, and sixteen of the XKSS versions. The extra road equipment made them eligible for production as sports cars in America. In 1957 twenty seven of these cars were in various stages of completion when a factory fire destroyed nine of them.
The Jaguar D-Type is basically a straight six engine design that was initially a 3.4 litre engine but upgraded to 3.8 litres in the late fifties. Jaguar's innovative monocoque construction which comprised largely of sheets of aluminum alloy, is largely due to the work of Malcom Sayer, who joined Jaguar after working at the Bristol Airplane Company. His expertise brought aviation technology together with the aeronautical understanding of aerodynamic efficiency, to competition design.
The D-type's star began to wane in the late fifties, as support from Jaguar decreased after they withdrew from racing, and as cars from rival manufactures became more competitive. Although it continued to be one of the cars to beat in club racing and national events, the D-Type never again achieved a podium finish at Le Mans. By the early 1960's it was obsolete, as at this time the E-Type was making its appearance on the roads.
To mark the sixty years since its launch, Jaguar have brought a touch of vintage style to the Paris motor show. The car makers have launched the Heritage 57 collection, a range of goods linked to the D-type sports model. These include a Jaguar Heritage leather jacket made from the world renowned Pittard leather. The Jaguar design team created the range to commemorate its most successful period at Le Mans, using the victorious No 3 Ecurie Ecosse team car from 1957 as inspiration.
Director of design Ian Callum said "Occasionally it's great fun to celebrate the past, especially something as momentous as winning with the Ecuria Ecosse D-Type. "The collection is distinguished by the blue flag, and draws on signature clues from the winning No 3 car. The key pieces from the collection include a Heritage 57 men's brown leather jacket, made in the U.K by Pittards. Other goods include a 24Heures T-Shirt, and a 57 paddock shirt offering a contemporary interpretation of Jaguar's racing history.
A classic D-Type was recently sold at auction for a record 3.7m euro (approximately 4million pounds) by RM Auctions in Paris. It was the seventh of just 54 customer D-Types produced and was once owned by the Le Mans winner Richard Attwood.