Built between 1955
Jaguar D-Type was a racing success and, as it had done
with the previous "C-Type",
Jaguar were to release a very limited number of "Production
D-types" - although nearly all were used for racing
rather than as street vehicles.
The D-Type's engine incorporated an asymmetric head,
larger valves and a newly designed "long-nose" body.
The designers were rewarded with an immediate race
track victory at Le Mans, however this was unfortunately
overshadowed by the worst accident in motorsports history.
Some three hours into the race, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
collided with a Austin Healey, plunging the hapless Austin
into the grandstands. The crash and ensuing fire killed
the Austins driver and over 80 of the spectators.
Mercedes-Benz immediately withdrew the remainder of its
team, even as Sterling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were
leading the top D-Type by more than two laps. Mike Hawthorn
and Ivor Bueb, who were piloting the Jag, went on to a
rather hollow victory.
In fact, Mercedes were to withdraw from motor racing altogther
until 1988, when they joined forces with the Swiss Sauber
team in the Sports Prototype Championship, then lining
up on the grid with its partner AMG in the German Touring
Car Championship (DTM).
The following year (1956) Jaguar were to suffer mechanical
failures, however the marque was somewhat rescued by
the privateer team "Ecurie Ecosse". One of
their two D-Types, driven by Ron Flockhart and Ninian
Sanderson, were to again bring a D-Type to the Le Mans
victory podium - for the second year in a row.
Although Jaguar were to leave racing at the end of 1956
private teams would continue to enjoy success driving
the D-Type. At the 1957 Le Mans
, D-Types were to finish
first, second, third, fourth and sixth! A great success,
but without the arch rival Mercedes Benz perhaps not terribly
In all, some 42 production D-Types were built, and the 1957 Le Mans
remains as its greatest moment.