Jaguars at the Mille Miglia
Jaguar celebrates its motorsport pedigree with a strong line-up at the celebration of the classic Italian road race.
Jaguar continues the celebration of its 75th anniversary with a strong entry at the Mille Miglia revival event taking place this week.
The company is represented by 27 cars, including a "works team" of classic XK120, C-type and D-type models rom the Jaguar Heritage Trust collection.
Jaguar fielded a four-strong team of XK120s in the great Italian road race in 1950, and the following year Stirling Moss drove a works entry in the event.
"The Mille Miglia is one of the world's premier driving events, and one where Jaguar has always felt very much at home," said Mike O'Driscoll, managing director of Jaguar Cars, who will be piloting one of the C-type racers in this year's recreation of the original 1,000-mile race, which took place on public roads starting and finishing in Brescia from 1927 to 1957.
Jaguar says that the current retrospective format offers an ideal opportunity to showcase some of its most famous cars where they belong: competing with other classic sports cars on the open road.
Three of the six Jaguar "works team" entrants are notable competition cars from the Jaguar Heritage Trust collection:
The 1950 XK120, registered NUB 120, was by far the most successful of the competition XK120s which, more than any other model, was the car that established Jaguar's motorsport credentials.
The vehicle was privately owned and campaigned by Ian Appleyard, with his wife Patricia (Sir William Lyons' daughter) acting as navigator. Appleyard went on to win the Alpine Rally in 1950 and 1951, the 1951 RAC Rally and the 1951 Tulip Rally.
There's also an example of the C-type (registered NDU 289), the car that brought Jaguar its first victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1951. Two years later, the factory cars finished first, second and fourth.
The winners, Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton, were the first to average more than 100mph. One of 43 C-types sold to private owners, NDU 289 was built in 1953 and competed in that year's Mille Miglia.
The third car is a 1956 D-type "long nose", registration 393 RW. It was was the penultimate D-type produced by Jaguar, built in March 1956 for the works team.
That year, it won the Reims 12-hour race, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Ivor Bueb, before finishing sixth in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (the winners were Flockhart and Sanderson in a D-type entered by Ecurie Ecosse).
Although Jaguar withdrew from racing later that year, the car was raced in America, finishing third in the 12-hour race at Sebring in 1957.
According to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, 393 RW is one of the most original D-types in existence – it still has the 1956 Le Mans windscreen, passenger seat and door.