Jaguar D-Type, the car that was a decade ahead
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Jaguar D-Type, the car that was a decade ahead

The Jaguar D-Type is a passenger car produced in the 1950s by the British company Jaguar Cars. It is often referred to as the car that was ahead of the decade. Here is its glorious history

Jaguar – what is the brand?

Jaguar is a British brand specializing in the production of passenger and sports cars. The activity of the company began in 1922. Currently, Jaguar belongs to the automotive conglomerate Tata Motors, while since 2013 it has co-founded the Jaguar Land Rover alliance

Jaguar is ranked among the top when it comes to the number of wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In the 1950s, the British company won the first place as many as 5 times, while in the 1980s – 2 times

Jaguar D-Type – the successor to the iconic C-Type

In 1953, the famous Jaguar D-Type, a replacement for the C-Type, jumped onto the race tracks. The new model from the British manufacturer was irreplaceable during many competitions. The D-Type had no equals. It handled the track with remarkable ease, beating the cars of Aston Martin or Ferrari. The Jaguar D-Type reigned supreme at Le Mans for three seasons from 1955 to 1957. Each time the cars were driven by British drivers. One of them was a certain Mike Hawthorn, who would go on to win the Formula One World Championship title in later years

Withdrawal from the racing world

The undoubted success of the Jaguar D-Type during the Le Mans races was huge. Unfortunately, there came a time when cars from the British manufacturer had to withdraw from the world of sport. This was due to a significant weakening of support from Jaguar. Competing vehicles were therefore given a wide berth. They did not fail to take advantage of such an opportunity and thus the D-Type lost the popularity it had developed over the years.

After Jaguar withdrew from racing, the unfinished D-Type cars were offered as XKSS versions with additional equipment. These were retrofitted to include a passenger seat, passenger side door, side windows, full width windshield with wipers, finished interior, folding hood and bumpers, and much more.

Unfortunately, in 1957, a fire broke out at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory, leaving nothing left of the 25 cars. All the tooling was also destroyed, making it impossible to resume production after the fire was brought under control. Eventually, the XKSS version was taken out of production.

In 2016, Jaguar announced that it would complete the original order, building them by hand to the original specifications and assigning them the chassis numbers of the destroyed cars.

What was the Jaguar D-Type like?

When trying to express what the Jaguar D-Type was like, the first thing that comes to mind is – modern. This word perfectly describes the car offered by the British manufacturer. As for those times, it stood out with many innovative solutions. Not without reason it was called a vehicle that was ahead of the decade

The D-Type was based on an extremely lightweight construction, which undoubtedly gave it a huge advantage during races. Powering the D-Type was the classic XK family dry-sump 6-cylinder engine, which at the time was about 3.44 liters in displacement. The power unit generated around 250 hp, which was transmitted to the rear of the car via a 4-speed transmission

Technical data


  • R6 3.4 l (3442 cm³), 2 valves per cylinder, DOHC;
  • Power system: three Weber carburetors;
  • Cylinder diameter × piston stroke: 83.00 mm × 106.00 mm;
  • Maximum power: 254 hp at 6000 rpm;
  • Maximum torque: 328 Nm at 4000 rpm.


  • 0-80 km/h acceleration: 3,9 s;
  • Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 4,7 s;
  • Acceleration 0-160 km/h: 12,1 s;
  • Time taken to cover the first 400 metres: 13.7 seconds;
  • Top speed: 261 km/h.

Jaguar D-Type – an interesting design that gave it a huge advantage

During the construction of the D-Type, a revolutionary, for the time, aerospace technology was used. The so-called tub, or cockpit section, was characterized by a shell structure, that is one in which the main elements were sheets of aluminum alloy. Its shape and small cross-section guaranteed the car’s torsional rigidity and significantly reduced drag.

The D-Type’s well thought out design, mainly from an aerodynamic point of view, was due to Malcolm Sawyer, who joined the Jaguar team while working for the Bristol Airplane Company during World War II.

When it comes to mechanical solutions in the Jaguar D-Type many things were taken from its predecessor, the C-Type. The front and rear suspension and the innovative disc brakes were retained, as was the XK engine.


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