1952 Jaguar C-Type
Chassis Number : XKC 010 Horsepower : 205 Displacement : 6-cylinder, 3.42 L Wheelbase : 96"
After the war, Jaguar retained its reputation as an outstanding sports car. In Britain, however, the focus of the motor industry included a global outreach and satisfaction of the government’s export policy. President William Lyons and Manager Bill Heynes needed to increase production to make a desirable car for worldwide use. Nevertheless, still spurred by their sporting interests so successfully effected before the war, Jaguar unveiled the first XK120 model at the London Motor Show in 1948. The car was in great demand and soon entered large scale production.
An encouraging finish in the 1950 Le Mans with the modified XK120 cars lead to the development in 1951of the “C” type (competition) which was introduced one week before the 24 hour Le Mans race, after a development interval of only eight months. Designer Malcolm Sayer produced a beautiful aerodynamic body whose design has stood the test of time. The special aluminum car was powered by a modified XK 120 twin-cam straight-six engine but the horsepower was increased from the standard of 160 to 205 utilizing dual carburetors and a variety of other enhancements. It was about 1000 pounds lighter than the passenger version.
Driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead in the 1951 Le Mans one set a new average speed and distance record, leading the race for 16 of the 24 hours and in another C-type Stirling Moss set a new record for the fastest lap. They did not compete in many other races but they did win the 1951 Tourist Trophy race and the 1953 24-hour race at Le Mans.
After a failure in 1952, a C-type again won the 1953 Le Mans race after some improvements such as the installation of triple Weber carburetors, high lift cams and the very first use of disc brakes. In fact, the C-type was the first car to race with disc brakes. For the first time in Le Mans history a car averaged more than 100 miles per hour, a 10 percent improvement over the previous record. Because of the rapid evolution of sports racing cars– the C-type was soon outmoded but the way was made for a more potent evolution, the D-type to be discussed later.
This car was imported in 1952 by Midwest Jaguar dealer Art Feuerbacher. It ran in a series of smaller races but its greatest performance was in the 1953 Sebring where it came in 3rd overall driven by Sherwood Johnston who that year won the drivers’ championship. It had a brief racing history thereafter until 1959 when it was purchased by Ohioan Art Seyler. He rebuilt the original engine and he raced it between 1961 and 1965 in regional SCCA events bragging that he had 30 straight finishes before he was forced to retire because of a broken axle. He raced it at Mid-Ohio against Ken Miles in a Cobra, Jim Hall in a Chaparral, all with the same engine. He drove to the VSCCA race at Watkins Glen in 1975, raced, and drove back (one of his favorite practices).
In 1976 he installed an E-type engine and preserved the original C-type engine which was still in excellent condition. He continued to participate in VSCCA races. Although he made some modifications, such as installation of a fuel cell, he retained all the original equipment. He finished his career in a SVRA race at Watkins Glen in 1986.
When we purchased the car from Art it was towed down by Bill Wonder who always had a great eye for “wonderful” cars and to this day remains extraordinarily alert and active. We installed the original engine and had the original gas filled shock absorbers recommissioned and installed. The gas tank was also put back in place. Fortunately Art had kept all of these things nicely preserved. We did remove his roll bar. With all the bits together a complete restoration was done by Ralph Buckley and Kevin Kelly. Harry Tidmarsh did a beautiful job in restoring the body.
So few of these C-types had an original body that I asked him to remove as little of the material as possible and to save whatever he did trim off. For instance, the thin aluminum around the headlight shells and grille had torn through at the screw holes necessitating replacement; similarly the rear wheel arches had to be redone. This work was completed over a long period of time but quite painstakingly so that the end result was a perfect restoration. It was painted the original Jaguar silver and reupholstered in black, as factory records indicate.
We have enjoyed her since. As is typical of Ralph Buckley restorations, it has performed flawlessly. A remarkable car, quite different from the D-type to drive, but nevertheless charming in its own manner and one can readily reckon why it was so successful during the early 1950’s.