I just hope they realise its importance – it’s Jaguar’s Porsche 917’
Maybe it’s because I’m getting old. Maybe it’s because I caught the 24 Hours of Le Mans over the weekend, and few of the cars could be described as beautiful; certainly not the hypercars. Or maybe it’s just because I’m ignorant, and if you don’t know much you tend to go with the mainstream choice (like when you start drinking beer and think Fosters is fine). When it came to important old Jaguars, my thinking ran to the D-Type and E-Type and little further.
Whatever the reason when I saw Jaguar’s Classic’s first finished C-Type Continuation I wasn’t ready for it, and the effect was profound. A half-eaten bagel dropped to the floor, my heart rate soared and I lost the next hour on the configurator. (A toy made possible because the car’s been 3D modelled, the configurator’s inexplicably addictive given the extent of your options are paint colour, interior colour, roundels and badge or no badge – that’s it.) I sent a gushy text to a Jaguar-obsessed friend. His reply: ‘I just hope they realise its importance – it’s their Porsche 917.’ He’s right. Like the flat-12 German, the straight-six Brit was a beautiful, innovative and devastatingly fast race winner which set the company that created it on a path to super-stardom. Prior to the C-Type’s utter dominance of Le Mans in ’53 (the works cars finished first, second and fourth, and bumped the average speed north of 100mph for the first time), the Coventry marque had been an outlier. It would soon become the world’s most successful sports car maker.
The Continuation cars are to ’53 spec, and if there’s another car this month I’d like to drive more, it’s escaped my notice: handbuilt 220bhp straight-six; game-changing disc brakes; gloriously slinky skin of hand-rolled 16-gauge aluminium (thicker than the delicate original cars’); and a dainty cockpit comprising Smiths instruments, an optional harness (please – I’m not as good as I think I am) and the 15-inch steering wheel with which I daydream of gathering up endless delicious drifts. Does Jaguar realise how special the C-Type is? The time, expense and effort it has poured into these machines would suggest that it does.