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For Auction: 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

Submitted by on July 16, 2015

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

Images by Patrick Ernzen, thanks to RM Sotheby’s

One of three cars prepared for the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans, the only lightweight C-Types built by the factory and the first cars ever to tackle Le Mans with disc brakes, this 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight is very special indeed.

It’s heading to auction at RM Sotheby’s’ Monterey sale during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this August, so let’s take a look at it before it does!

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

The car, XKC 052, is the second of the three lightweight Works cars prepared for that 1953 running of Le Mans. These three cars represent the pinnacle of C-Type development, enjoying upgrades like thin-gauge aluminum coachwork, uprated Weber carbies, fully synchronized box and triple-plate clutch, an additional upper link to the rear axle, rubber aircraft fuel bladder and a bevvy of trick light components. They were also the first cars to contest Le Mans with disc brakes, and the only cars rocking them in the 1953 race.

XKC 052 was driven during the 1953 Le Mans weekend by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart. Along with the Jags, three Ferraris and three Alfas set off at race-winning pace. By Sunday morning two of the Ferraris and all three Alfas had retired and the two other lightweight C-Types were holding down 1st and 2nd, with our car in fourth just behind.

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

And that’s how it was after 24 hours, with the Briggs Cunningham C5-R driven by Phil Walters and John Fitch taking third place and Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart putting in 297 laps at an average speed just under 167 kilometers an hour to take fourth outright in this car.

The car would go from there to compete at Silverstone and Goodwood, unfortunately retiring both times with mechanicals. In November of 1953 it was rebuilt to Le Mans specifications and sold to Ecurie Ecosse as Jaguar was moving on to develop their D-Type.

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

Ecurie Ecosse painted the car Flag Metallic Blue and gave it to Jackie Stewart’s older brother Jimmy to race. He took three wins at Goodwood and another at National Ibsley. Roy Salvadori would then take over driving duties, winning two races at Snetterton before handing it back to Stewart for another win at Goodwood

Ninian Sanderson was next in the driver’s seat and he would win at National Charterhall and follow up with a second at the Penya-Rhin Grand Prix. Over the course of that season XKC 052 and Ecurie Ecosse took eight wins and a further six podiums.

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

At the end of 1954 Ecurie Ecosse sold the car to Peter Bond, who repainted it green and successfully ran it in club races until 1956. He sold it to Maurice Charles in 1956.

Charles continued to race the car before selling it to Jim Robinson, who in turn sold it to Alan Ensoll. Ensoll was quick in the car, giving it somewhat of a racing renaissance at various hillclimbs and sprints. Its chain of owners, and impressive competition lineage, continued in 1958 when Ensoll sold it to Tom Chandlish, who picked up wins in the Rest-and-Be-Thankful hillclimb championship and in an unlimited GT race at Charterhall in 1959.

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

It was around this time that the car was involved in a crash and, after some seven seasons, began to wind down its competition career. Ian Denney bought it in 1959 and completely restored it with a new lightweight body. It would then pass through Brian Classic’s hands to Paul Grist who restored it to its Ecurie Ecosse livery.

In 1971, XKC 052 was bought by Martin Morris and it remained with the family for three decades. It ran in the 1973 Le Mans 50th Anniversary event, where it finished in 11th, but this time was a quieter period of its life.

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

Morris began a two-year restoration of the car in 1986, upon completion of which it participated in the Jaguar factory Cavalcades to Le Mans in ’91 and ’93. The year 2000 would see the car move into the care of Morris’ son, who sold it to its current owner.

At this point it was renewed to its 1953 Le Mans specifications, given a complete mechanical refresh and new lightweight thin-gauge aluminium coachwork accurate to factory specifications. This new body was finished in the Ecurie Ecosse livery, and the original replacement body was retained for completeness.

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

The car then began its modern career, including the factory C-Type Cavalcade to Le Mans in 2001, an appearance in Classic Jaguar World Magazine and exhibition at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It would also participate in the California Mille and the Quail Rally.

This rare and beautiful car is in magnificent, collection-worthy condition and with its storied history will be welcome at historic events of all kinds around the world. It will head to auction at RM Sotheby’s’ upcoming Monterey sale during the Pebble Beach weekend over the 13-15 of August, 2015. Head to their site here for more information.

RM Sotheby’s specialist David Swig took this very special Jaguar C-Type for a spin during their preparations, and you can enjoy his thoughts in the video below!

Images by Patrick Ernzen, thanks to RM Sotheby’s

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

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