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Little Classics News: 2 August 2014

Salon Privé: Recognising 60 Years of the D-Type

1954 Jaguar D-type Short nose

The streamlined structure and breath-taking looks of the D-Type make it one of the most beautiful competition cars ever produced and Salon Privé are thrilled to be celebrating the 60th anniversary of this spectacular car with a specially dedicated class within the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance.

All of the cars entered are steeped in history and provenance but one stands out for its particularly colourful early life and that is XKD523 which makes its international Concours debut after 40 years!

One third of all Jaguar D-Types were sold to buyers in the USA – including XKD523. First purchased in New York, it was sold by its first owner to drag racer Joe Grimaldi after a disgruntled individual at a race in Nassau put sand into the dry sump tank! Grimaldi raced it successfully at circuits like Bridgehampton, Watkins Glen and Lime Rock. However, an ill-fated speed record attempt at Daytona damaged the engine beyond repair, leading Grimaldi to install a Chevy V8, citing it as ‘the worst mistake of my life’.

The next owner decided to discard the original chassis frame for a new factory version, with the newly rebuilt car retaining the ‘523’ identity. Meanwhile, the discarded frame and many other components were sold separately to the UK, creating another ‘523’ – effectively a dual identity car. Quite wonderfully, the UK owner acquired the US ‘523’ in 2008 and set about having the original components reunited, allowing the car to stand complete again after a 40 year wait!

XKD 535 at Spa, 13th May 1956, driver Palacios

The colossal D-Type succeeded Jaguar’s C-Type with a marvellous debut at the 1954 Le Mans, where it thundered to a 2nd overall finish. Even though it featured the C-Type’s successful 3.4-litre XK competition engine, the D-Type varied from its forerunner completely as it had a very different construction, featuring two chassis sub-frames bolted to a monocoque. The coachwork was an attractive study of aerodynamics and when you looked closely, suggestions of the forthcoming E-Type with its iconic oval-mouth grille became clear to see.

Few cars could match the D-Type on the endurance circuits of the period, with many dominating performances at Nürburgring, Reims, Sebring and three consecutive victories at Le Mans (1955 – 1957). The D-Type is a visual tour de force that rubber-stamped Jaguar’s position in post-war racing folklore, and it will always be considered one of the era’s most important and captivating racing cars. Little wonder that D-Types can be worth millions today!

Tony O’Keeffe, Heritage Communications Officer at Jaguar UK said: “D-Types are very rare; there were only 71 originally made and a large number of these were lost in the factory fire of ’57 so to see a class of them at Salon Privé is a real treat and their recognition of the ‘D’ in its 60th year bears testament to Jaguar and the designers of this iconic car.

We were very keen to have our development car, #401, feature as we are always proud for it to be seen, especially at an event like Salon Privé where it will be alongside a selection of other fantastic and equally rare examples.”

Salon Privé is a boutique event which opens on Wednesday 3rd September with the crème de la crème of classic cars from around the world competing in the internationally-renowned Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance.


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