The fate of D-Type| GT Colour Lab™️ #4

The fate of D-Type | GT Colour Lab™️ #4

Previously.GT Colour Lab™️ #3 is here

What happened at Le Mans 1955

K: Oh yes. Like Ferrari, I have a strong impression of Brix Cunningham using the Jaguar D-Type and the "Lister Jaguar".

S: Lister Jaguar? That is an unfamiliar name.

K: Around 1957, when Jaguar withdrew from racing, a company called Lister replaced Jaguar with the D-Type.using the D-Type's engine, gearbox, and other components.D-Type engines, gearboxes, and other components.

S: Jaguar, you mean,a time when they were away from racing as a works team.Jaguar had a period of time when it was a works team that was away from racing.

The moment when you run up to the car at the start of a Le Mans-style race.At this time, it was still
There was not even a pit wall separating the main track from the pits at that time.
(1955) ©️Alamy

K: ________ Oh, one cannot avoid the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans to talk about it. That year, there was a tragic accident at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France that would go down in international racing history. Two and a half hours into the race,British racer Mike Hawthorne, ridingJaguar D-TypeWhen the Jaguar D-Type of British racer Mike Hawthorne slowed to enter the pits, Austin Healey, who was driving right behind him, made a sudden change of direction to avoid hitting it, and the Jaguar D-Type was hit by Team Daimler-Benz Mercedes-Benz300SLRcollided with it and lifted into the air. The Mercedes lost control in mid-air and entered the grandstands packed with spectators, resulting in a catastrophic accident that killed many spectators and officials.Many spectators and officials were killed.

S: I have heard a little bit about that. I heard that it was a truly horrific situation....

K: The cause and truth of the accident is a matter of opinion, with different opinions from various teams, countries, spectators, experts, etc., so it is impossible to draw any conclusions, but the fact is that the race went on as is. It is reported that the organizers had no choice but to continue the race due to the time of the accident and the surrounding conditions.

S: Oh, so the race was still going on under those circumstances!

We will get closer to Jaguar D-Type No. 6/ Mike Hawthorne,
300SLR No.19/ Stirling Moss(1955) ©️Alamy

K: In fact, Team Daimler-Benz also included the famous Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, who were still racing in first place after the accident. However, when the German headquarters learned of the situation, the team was ordered to stop the race and retired on lap 134. Daimler-Benz also recommended that Jaguar Cars, which may have contributed to the accident, retire from the race, but Jaguar ignored the request and continued racing. As a result, the Jaguar D-Type of Mike Hawthorne, who was involved in the accident, took the checkered flag in first place.

S: I guess Jaguar was in a situation where they couldn't back down, and even though they finished first, it was a very bad result.

K: At that time, the concept of safety was completely different from today. Racing was considered to be a dangerous sport, and spectators were expected to be aware of the risks involved. Circuit facilities were not designed with safety in mind. However, the accident led to a temporary ban on motorsports in major European countries such as France, Spain, Switzerland, and West Germany. Public opinion that racing safety and spectator safety should be reviewed blew up across Europe. Most of the provisions were lifted in a short period of time, about a year or so, until the circuits were made safe, but this is precisely why most motorsports are still banned in Switzerland.

S: So this year marked the beginning of a major change in attitudes.

K: And after 1955, Daimler-Benz decided to withdraw completely from motorsports. The impact of the Le Mans accident was that great. For the next 30 years, Benz did not race. And public opinion reacted very strongly against Jaguar Cars, which was forced to continue racing. After this one race, Jaguar was given a dirty image. The popularity of the famous D-Type car, which had achieved excellent results in racing for the past several years, also became unfavorable, and Jaguar, like Mercedes Benz, withdrew from international racing the following year. 

S: Even though you won, was the cost of Le Mans in '55 too great?

K: Following the withdrawal from racing, production of the D-Type, a popular racing car, was discontinued, leaving Jaguar's Browns Lane factory with a surplus of cars in stock. Jaguar Cars therefore began production of a road car version, using the D-Type chassis and modifying it for public road use. That is the Jaguar XKSS. Incidentally, this vehicle was developed primarily for the North American market. In fact, actor Steve McQueen is listed as one of the owners of this XKSS.

Steve McQueen and his wife Nellie standing with the Jaguar XKSS.
©️Pictorial Press Ltd | Alamy 

S: Compared to the D-Type, the XKSS has a short nose and a light design. The logo design on the hood is also beautiful. The curvy silhouette of the body is very attractive.
K: But in February 1957. Tragedy strikes Jaguar Cars again. A fire broke out at night at the Browns Lane factory in Coventry. The factory building and several cars were reduced to ashes.



S: Wow, this is a terrible fire... The Jaguar MkVIII is in shambles.

K: Fortunately, no one was injured in this fire, but one of the buildings here at the Browns Lane Factory was destroyed. After the fire was extinguished, the staff gathered up bolts, washers, spare parts, and other barely usable parts and attempted a quick recovery, but as many as 200 vehicles were lost in the fire. However, as many as 200 cars were lost in the fire. All of the D-Types in storage and 9 of the 25 XKSS that were being manufactured were also lost.

S: I am kind of speechless. It's as if something has been said about the cars.

K: After that fire, Jaguar withdrew completely from the racing world, but decided to disclose the components, engines, and remnants of parts of the D-Type and other racing cars to trusted coachbuilders and racing car constructors. By offering Jaguar engines and gearboxes externally, so-called "variants" of Jaguars with the builder's individuality to the D-Type entered the racing world.

A Period of Change for Coachbuilders

Paris, cobbled saddle coachbuilders (1762)
by Bernard after Lucotte 
©️Wellcome Images

S: I see, it looks like the tide is starting to turn a little bit. By the way, what do you mean by "coachbuilder"?

K: The term "coachbuilder" has changed so much over the years that it is difficult to refer to a specific profession, but it mainly refers to a company that builds car bodies. The word "coach" was originally used to refer to a carriagecoach part of a coachThe word "builder" means "a person who builds coach cabins or a company with such skills. In the early 1900s, when the manufacture of automobiles began in earnest, the role of coachbuilders shifted from carriage building to car building.

Advertisement for Berkshire coachbuilder W. Vincent & Co.
A 1920s book by Charles G. Harper
From "Midland County Motors"

S: Okay, so as civilization grew, the technology of the horse-drawn carriage was converted to the technology of the automobile.

K: Yes. In the past, the mountings of carriages for the aristocracy were often very elaborate. Rich owners competed with each other to show off their luxurious carriages, partly as a show of power, with special modifications and aesthetic decorations. This culture of love for car fixtures is, of course, also connected to automobiles, and the culture of competing for speed, so to speak, has shifted from horse racing to motorsports. The culture of competing for visual beauty was inherited from horse racing to motor sports, and the culture of competing for appearance was inherited to Concours d'Elegance. The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, held at Lake Como in Italy, is said to be the oldest Concours d'Elegance existing in Europe, having started in 1929.

The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in recent years.
It takes place on the shores of Lake Como in Cernobbio, Italy.
A venerable competition.
©️REDA&CO srl | Alamy


S: I wonder if the scheme in which businesses are born around people's competitive spirit and insatiable desire for recognition has not changed much over the years. And although the shape may have changed, coachbuilders have flexibly refined their skills while changing their corporate structure.

K: Throughout the progress and history of civilization, the best coachbuilders have been racing car builders, and some have turned into car manufacturers.
In fact, Jaguar is one of the coachbuilders that originally started out manufacturing sidecars. The superior build techniques later led to aesthetics and designs for speed, and Jaguar gained a great reputation and achieved great success both as a car manufacturer and as a works team in racing. However, just five years after moving to Browns Lane to expand the factory's production scale, an accident and a major fire at Le Mans coincided with an unexpected brake.

S: Jaguar used to be a coachbuilder too. A big fire shortly after moving the factory must have been tremendously damaging.

K: After the fire, Jaguar had completely withdrawn from racing, but decided to disclose to the outside world the D-Type manufacturing information it had developed in racing, including engines, gearboxes, and components. A small racing car builder, still unknown at the time, joined the production of Jaguar cars. They are said to have achieved the greatest success in their project with Jaguar.
S: I see, so "Lister" was his name.


He carried on the spirit of the Jaguar D-Type,
Brian Lister and Archie Scott Brown.
They were unknown to the public, but they became part of Jaguar's history.
legendary in the history of Jaguar.
Lister Bristol with
Archie Scott Brown and Brian Lister
1954 Via National Motor Museum

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Cover Photo: Gado Images / ©️Alamy