Suffolk C-type

Development of the C-type Jaguar

In 1950 Herbert Johnson took a new Jaguar XK120 to race at Le Mans and finished a creditable 16th after 24 hours. William Lyons was inspired and gave the order to design a proper racing car using a lighter body, over a new chassis and a new engine.

The result was the C-type Jaguar. This was the first race car designed by Jaguar Cars, using the all new 3442cc XK engine, which had been used to power the big Jaguar MK VII Saloon.

The new C-type cars were sent to Le Mans for the 24 hour race and Peter Whitehead astonished the motoring world by finishing first overall. History was made. No other Jaguar victory in future years had as much impact as that first win, and with a car straight out of the box.

The Jaguar C-type had some later alterations, not all of which were a success! An attempt to streamline the bodywork for the 1952 Le Mans race deprived the engine of cooled air, which led to a fatal overheating. However in 1953 the C-type returned to Le Mans and beat the Ferraris and Maseratis again. The C-type now had a fully reliable Jaguar XK engine and was fitted with the all-new Dunlop Disc brakes. C-types finished 1st, 2nd, 4th and 9th at an average speed of 105mph. The sleek and beautiful lines of the C-type were not just for show, this was a real race car that commanded respect.

Only 53 Jaguar C-types were ever made. Some of the original cars have raced continuously for over 50 years. Some have had more gentle lives being cherished for their beauty and purpose. All the originals have stories to tell – all are now valued in millions of pounds by international car collectors.

Benefitting from years of experience and development in producing hand built British classic cars, Suffolk Sportscars have been producing C-type reproductions for over 10 years and have built over fifty of our Suffolk C-type cars, including a number of cars with an all aluminium body.

Suffolk XK120 – Suffolk C-type Development

Roger Williams, the founder of Suffolk Sportscars, started his career as a salesman with a Jaguar dealership in 1960. Highlights included training weeks at Jaguar Cars at Browns Lane and visits to the assembly lines and engine workshops.

In 1965 Roger left to run his own business. Always a keen historic racing enthusiast, in his free time Roger spent many hours on race tracks in the UK and Europe, in two Lister Jaguars and a Cooper Bristol.

When 30 years later he decided to create a superior reproduction Jaguar C-type he was keen to make a car that felt authentic and drove beautifully.

In order to keep the car as true to the concept of the original C-type as possible it was decided to use E-type torsion bar front suspension rather than the more modern and widely used coil-overs. He was very fortunate in being able to have access to a completely unraced an undamaged, original C-type 039 from which our body moulds were made.

The rear suspension uses lower trailing arms and top links, and a Panhard rod attached to an extensively modified Jaguar MKII live rear axle, narrowed to the correct C-type width.

To improve the dynamics, the rear is adjustable via rose joints for all 5-links, and adjustable easily for height and damping via coil over damper springing.

The car has Lockheed disc brakes all round and can be fitted with a servo. The steering is rack and pinion with a safety collapsible steering column.

All Jaguar XK engines can be fitted. 3.4, 3.8 and 4.2 variants are available. These can be modified for performance and fitted with Weber carburettors.

The Jaguar Short Compact gearbox with overdrive is usually fitted, but the car will also accept an automatic transmission.

Driving performance

Mechanically and dynamically the car is designed to perform and feel just as the original C-type cars did in the fifties. The subtle modifications made to the Suffolk C-type improve the car’s efficiency without compromising the traditions of the original.

Suffolk Sportscars have a reputation as producers of classic designs that have excellent driving and handling. Several well known car publications have written glowing reviews for the drivability of both the Suffolk C-type and the Suffolk SS100.

On the road and race track, the Suffolk C-type displays fine handling and can achieve speeds in excess of 150mph.

All parts to create a Suffolk C-type are available from our works, for you to build your own Suffolk C-type. Full technical and workshop back up are included.

Our Build Manual fully explains everything you need to know to help you decide if you would like to take on this fantastic project.

You are welcome to download the complete Customer Build Manual for free by filling in the form below. You can see all the stages and assembly procedures to complete one of our cars.

We ask for an email address only so we can keep track of who has downloaded the manual. However we will not add you to our mailing list, unless you specifically would like to receive our quarterly newsletter by clicking here <mailing list link>

Every finished car effectively becomes an ambassador for Suffolk Sportscars and represents our product, so it is always in our interests that owner constructed cars are as excellent as a works built car.

If you would like more information please email us at: or call us.

Download pdf
Download pdf

The business of Suffolk Sportscars exists to enable self build owners to build a beautiful Suffolk SS100 at home and over 350 cars have now been built by us and by satisfied owners all over the World. Our development of the Suffolk C-type Jaguar extends this facility to a second Jaguar model, the C-type, we which have now been reproducing for 8 years. Without doubt the C-type is hugely evocative of the 1950’s period and has been much ‘copied ‘ by others in recent years. We aim to make our recreation of this most famous Jaguar as straightforward to build as our well established SS100. Please note that our car is exactly accurate in all bodywork dimensions as per the original Jaguar car designed by Malcolm Sayer. We believe these dimensions are fundamentally critical on the C-type. With almost every other C-type being made wider or dimensionally inaccurate to the original, the whole visual perception of the car is compromised. A correct C-type body has to be 5 feet wide, exactly. Our chassis is a copy based on the original car also. We do not use square box sections our chassis is a tubular spaceframe, which is heavily copied and based on the original. Following your visit to our works at Woodbridge you can place an order with us for a £2500 deposit – this will be credited to the cost of Delivery 1. We will agree when the chassis will be ready to be delivered to you.
A PDF Build Manual is available free of charge – Please email us to order your copy. Alternatively, you can email us and request to order a bound copy in print, for a cost of £30 including UK delivery.

Delivery 1

Suffolk C-type space frame chassis, front suspension wishbones and polybushes, steering rack, rear axle and suspension components, panhard rod, fuel tank, wheels and tyres. Brake and clutch master cylinders and pedal assembly.

Delivery 2

Remanufactured and rebuilt Jaguar XK Engine, Jaguar Short Compact gearbox and Norman Laycock overdrive unit, SU carburettors and engine ancillaries. Exhaust manifolds and silencers, radiator and cooling system items. Aluminium Fuel tank, aluminium radiator and remaining engine bay components. Steering columns and steering wheel. Brake solid lines and fuel lines.

Delivery 3

GRP bodywork. The body will be first made up and assembled completely on our own chassis jig here at the works. This can then be disassembled into 3 principal parts and delivered to you.

The external formed skins, which are painted are made from thin but immensely strong GRP formed bodywork, made in our original moulds by experienced personnel. Upon arrival, these 3 principal ‘skin’ sections are quality checked and prepared before being fitted on our jig. They are they internally smoothed so that an aluminium finish paint can be applied to the underside surface, meaning it is almost impossible to differentiate from the aluminium.

Critical dimensions are set and then the individually handmade aluminium flanges are bonded onto the underside of these ‘skin’ panels. Onto these hand formed and profiled 90 degree aluminium flanges, the aluminium and brass-wired edge strengthers, bulkheads, firewalls, and ducting are riveted, all of which is copied in design and manufacturing method to that of the original. By the time the body is finished, it is around 45% aluminium – even on what we refer to as our GRP bodied C-type.

The doors are made as a 2 part GRP moulding which is bonded and joined whilst fitted into the door aperture that it will live in, to ensure that adhearance to our precise standards of panel alignment and shut lines are kept within tolerance.

Once complete, this entire assembly is so accurately prepared that it can be painted before it is supplied.

Delivery 4

Instrumentation, body fittings, including lexan windscreen and aluminium plinth, aeroscreens, handmade leather bucket seats, electrical items and light units, wiring loom, transmission tunnel and Hardura covers, bonnet straps and handles, number plates, headlamp covers, badges and mirrors. All deliveries can be collected from us by the customer or delivered to your home.

When we build a Suffolk C-type, we always build the car to a bespoke customer specification, meaning that when you order a car, you can choose from an infinite number of paint and trim combinations, as well as a wide range of optional equipment and special order items, to create a car that is truly one of a kind.

The Suffolk C-type Jaguar is an authentic reproduction, with only concessions made where most desirable to improve, reliablility, performance, driving experience and comfort. The technology used is all the same as the original car, but improved where sympathetic to the original design and features of the Jaguar originals.

The coachwork is completely accurate and 100% true to the original shape, having been copied exactly of undamaged bodywork of car XKC039, which clothes the meticulously jig manufactured and MIG welded seamless CDS tubular space frame chassis – this is a copy of the original with the exception of a few details and aforementioned adjustments, to make the car more effective and usable than in 1951. The chassis runs on all Jaguar mechanical parts.

The legendary and much developed XK engine, from the original 160BHP 3.4 engine, to a screaming 310BHP fast road 4.2, we can cater for any desire. Torsion bar front suspension and quick rack steering perfectly capture the feel of an original C-type, and a Jaguar 4 speed all-synchromesh gearbox with overdrive transmits power to the Jaguar Salisbury 4HA axle, mounted via trailing arms and top links, secured laterally by a panhard rod – all based on the original parts, but now adjustable via rose joints, and sprung by coil over adjustable damper suspension.

Alternatively, you may choose to create an exact replication of a particular original C-type, such as a 1953 Le Mans car, one of the Ecurie Ecosse vehicles, or an early car with their quirky details. If you do so, we have a wealth of books, information and stored material to help do so as accurately as possible, and can even track down registration numbers which are close in sequence to those worn in period.

A Suffolk C-type performs with all the excitement and pure driving performance that delivered the car to it’s numerous competition wins in the 50s, contributing to the legendary status the brand carries today.

We have improved the suspension performance and drivability under a variety of conditions, we have also improved the driver cabin space to accommodate drivers up to 6’ 4” – without altering the dimensions of the car, ensuring it is exactly the same dimension as the original, just as designed by Malcolm Sayer.

What A Suffolk C-type Owner Can Expect:

The car can be specified to order in LHD or RHD and can be ordered with manual or automatic transmissions. The engine can also be specified with different capacities and power outputs.

Three main variations of C-type were built by Jaguar Cars. The earliest cars from XKC001-003 which had the 4 large side louvres and both driver and passenger doors, then XKC004-050 which had numerous individual specifications but typically had 2 x SU carburettors, one door, and no bonnet air scoop.

The XKC050-053 was made with lighter gauge aluminium bodywork, a rubber bag fuel tank, suspended from a twin rib or spine along the rear bodywork, with an inspection plate 1953 car had 3 Weber 45DCO3 Carburettors and an air scoop, feeding into an air box mounted to the carburettors.

Engine sizes can be exactly as the original 3.4 litres. However the 3.8 and 4,2 litre variants can be specified – all in various stages of tune.

Gearbox is usually the Jaguar Short Compact 4-speed with overdrive but 5 speed and automatic transmissions are also available. We can also supply Moss gearboxes with or without overdrive.

Our car is dimensionally completely accurate having been especially moulded off C-type 039 with its undamaged original Jaguar works alloy body. Almost all the original Jaguar C-types have had replacement bonnets and other body parts in the past 50 years and we are fortunate to have totally correct body moulds to work from.

Bodywork is GRP with extensive alloy panelling, the GRP gives us an entirely consistent and accurate bodywork with the considerable advantage of great strength.

Every effort is made to make the Suffolk C-Type Jaguar as close to the original cars as possible. The devil is in the detail and we believe we have created an excellent reproduction.

Typically, commissioning your Suffolk C-type Jaguar would start with a works visit to Woodbridge to inspect our facilities, meet the team, see what we do and have a demonstration of one of our cars.

Body Type2 Seater Sports
Number of Doors1 or 2
DesignerMalcom Sayer
Dimensions & Weightsmminches
Track (front)135053.125
Track (rear)135053.125
Ground Clearance1405.5
Kerb Weight960 kg2112 lb
Weight Distribution54F 46R
Fuel Tank Capacity18 gallons
Engine ManufacturerJaguarJaguarJaguar
Engine CodeXKXKXK
CylindersStraight 6Straight 6Straight 6
Capacity3.4 litre / 3442cc3.8 litre / 3781cc4.2 litre / 4235cc
Bore X Stroke83x106mm / 3.27×4.17 inches87x106mm / 3.4×4.17 inches92.07x106mm / 3.6×4.17 inces
Valve GearDouble overhead camshaft (DOHC), 2 valves per cylinder, 12 valves in totalDouble overhead camshaft (DOHC), 2 valves per cylinder, 12 valves in totalDouble overhead camshaft (DOHC), 2 valves per cylinder, 12 valves in total
Maximum Power Output160 BHP @ 5500 RPM (fast road 3.4) – 310 BHP @ 5500 RPM (super fast road 4.2)160 BHP @ 5500 RPM (fast road 3.4) – 310 BHP @ 5500 RPM (super fast road 4.2)160 BHP @ 5500 RPM (fast road 3.4) – 310 BHP @ 5500 RPM (super fast road 4.2)
Specific Output46.5 – 73.2 bhp/litre46.5 – 73.2 bhp/litre46.5 – 73.2 bhp/litre
Maximum Torque180 at 3900 RPM – at 3900 RPM180 at 3900 RPM – at 3900 RPM180 at 3900 RPM – at 3900 RPM
Compression Ratio9:19:19:1
Fuel System2 SU HD8 carburettors or 3 Weber 45 DCOE carburettors Facet Electronic fuel pump and glass filter bowl2 SU HD8 carburettors or 3 Weber 45 DCOE carburettors Facet Electronic fuel pump and glass filter bowl2 SU HD8 carburettors or 3 Weber 45 DCOE carburettors Facet Electronic fuel pump and glass filter bowl
Exhaust SystemBespoke TIG welded stainless steel exhaust system to copy original C-type with side exit silencerBespoke TIG welded stainless steel exhaust system to copy original C-type with side exit silencerBespoke TIG welded stainless steel exhaust system to copy original C-type with side exit silencer
Maximum RPM550055005500
Acceleration 0-60mph6s (for 250 BHP 4.2 with 3.31:1 final drive)
Acceleration 0-160km/h (100mph)12.5s (for 250 BHP 4.2 with 3.31:1 final drive)
Standing Quarter-Mile13.6s (for 250 BHP 4.2 with 3.31:1 final drive)
Maximum Speed179 mph at 5500 RPM (overdrive Top with 3.31:1 final drive)
Power to Weight Ratio166.6 – 332.9 bhp/tonne (1000kg)
Length3999.5mm / 157.5
Width1638mm / 64.5
Height1080mm / 42.5
Ground Clearance140mm / 5.5
Kerb Weight960 kg / 2112 lb
Weight Distribution54F 46R
Fuel Tank Capacity
DesignC-type space frame chassis, based on 1951 Jaguar Cars designs. Material of CDS Seamless 16SWG mild steel tubing and folded mild steel
Engine PositionFront mid-engine
Engine LayoutLongitudinal
Drive WheelsReal wheel drive
SteeringBespoke rack and pinion steering like original C-type (LHD or RHD)
Turns Lock-to-lock2.5
Turning Cirlce9.40m
Front SuspensionJaguar dual unequal length wishbones with adjustable torsion bar and dampers
Rear SuspensionC-type lower trailing arms, top links and Panhard rod (5-link) fully adjustable by rose joints. Coil over adjustable damper with adjustable spring perches
Wheel Size Front5j x 16
Wheel Size Rear5j x 16
Tyres FrontBlockley high performance radial 185 VR 16
Tyres RearBlockley high performance radial 185 VR 16
Brakes F/RHydraulic – 3 piston callipers (F) and 2 piston callipers with cable mechanical handbrake (R)
Front Brake Diameter280mm solid disc
Rear Brake Diameter280mm solid disc
GearboxJaguar all syncromesh 4-speed manual with overdrive – 5-speed manual and automatic optional
Top Gear Ratio1:1
AxleJaguar Mk2 Salisbury 4HA modified to centralise input flange with shortened casing and bespoke half shifts correct C-type width and C-type mounting brackets
Final Drive Ratio3.31:1 – other ratios available. Open or Powerlock type
Bodyworks & Interior Fittings
Body FittingsChromed brass C-type grille, Lucas P700 lights, with Perspex headlamp covers, XK120 indicator fittings in front lights. Pair of chromed 90° turn handles and pair of leather straps to secure bonnet. Lexan visor windscreen with aluminium mounting plinth, Pair of Raydot mirrors in silver. Single door with C-type aluminium hinges and internal latch. Aluminium Le Mans flip up fuel filler cap, pair of single red rear lights mounted to rear body. Black painted brass Lucas number plate lamp, clear indicators mounted on aluminium bracket below rear wings. Spare wheel and tool storage in compartment, removable on 2 Dzus fasteners on rear of car.
Interior Fittings Pair of handmade C-type pattern bucket seats, with improved comfort and space, trimmed in finest leather, Transmission tunnel trimmed in bound Hardura with leather gearstick and handbrake gaiters, fitted with 3-point adjustable harnesses. Lockable side compartments trimmed in Hardura. Aluminium floorpans, side panels, rear panels and dashboard. Gauge pod trimmed in black vinyl and fitted with C-type 160MPH speedometer, counter-clockwise tachometer, dual oil pressure and water temperature gauge, ammeter and fuel gauge. Lucas ignition key, starter button and horn button, hidden 12V accessory socket. 3 aluminium pull switches for driving lights on aluminium panel, Chrome passenger grab handle mounted on passenger dashboard, with black brass Lucas Map light on passenger dashboard. Driver Side panel fitted with headlamp dip switch, fuel pump switch, auxiliary light switch, indicator switch and overdrive switch.