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.
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.