1952 Jaguar C-Type
RM | SOTHEBY'S - NEW YORK - ICONS 2017 - Offered on: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
- One of only 53 examples built
- The first example to be imported to, and to win a race in, the United States
- Raced by the legendary Phil Hill for first owner Charles Hornburg
- Authentically restored and maintained by well-known marque experts
- Extensive in-period racing history on California SCCA circuits
- Exhibited at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Meadowbrook, and numerous JCNA events
- Remarkably original and pure example of a Coventry legend
Following Leslie Johnson’s competitive outing at the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Jaguar XK 120 S, Coventry brass approved the development of a new XK-based racing model, initially dubbed the XK 120 C and later known as the C-Type. Starting with an all-new lightweight tubular space frame, Jaguar’s experimental department redesigned the XK’s rear suspension with additional positioning links.
The 3.4-liter engine was upgraded with a new cylinder head, high-lift camshafts, racing pistons, and an un-muffled dual exhaust system, combining to develop a formidable 200 hp. The robust engineering was clothed with beautiful aerodynamic coachwork penned by stylist Malcolm Sayers that combined sensuous curves with traditional marque cues such as the classic elliptical grille.
Three factory C-Types were initially built for team use, making their debut at Sarthe in June 1951. Two of the three cars were forced to retire early, but the car piloted by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead held on to finish victorious, in the process becoming the first British car to win Le Mans in almost 20 years. The C-Type reprised the win with a second Le Mans victory two years later, and in the interim approximately 43 customer cars were built. Claiming rarity, racing pedigree, historically significant design, and one of the most emotionally arresting body styles ever conceived, the C-Type has evolved into a true legend, as the cornerstone of Coventry’s celebrated evolution of racing sports cars.
This stunning C-Type is just the seventh example of 53 cars in the chassis number sequence and wears the ninth body constructed. Chassis number XKC 007 also claims important SCCA racing history in the hands of the legendary Phil Hill.
After completing assembly in late June 1952, this Jaguar was dispatched in early August to Charles Hornburg’s seminal West Coast distributorship, and the car is believed to be the very first C-Type to reach the United States. As such an early example of Coventry’s marquis sports racer, the C-Type was retained by Hornburg for competition and promotional purposes, and he entrusted XKC 007 to the great Phil Hill for several races over the next few months.
The Jaguar debuted as #41 at Elkhart Lake in early September 1952. As his son Derek recalls, Phil Hill actually drove the Jaguar himself from California to Wisconsin for the race. There, Hill won the Sheldon Cup race outright, and finished 4th in the main event. The Sheldon Cup victory was the first win by a C-Type in the United States. Having driven the car to the race, Hill then drove it back to LA!
After the Watkins Glen Grand Prix was cancelled mid-contest due to an unrelated collision, Hill drove XKC 007 at the Madera Airport in early November, finishing in 2nd place. He then took the checkered flag in mid-December at Torrey Pines when the C-Type roared to a 1st-place finish.
By late 1955 the Jaguar was sold to Carlyle Blackwell Jr., of Hollywood, California, the son of a famed silent film actor who starred in some 180 different pre-“talkie” movies. Blackwell Jr. entered the car in 18 different races in California over the next two years at circuits such as Palm Springs, Paramount, and Pomona, generally finishing between 7th and 10th, though once placing as high as 2nd at Santa Barbara in early September 1957.
By the end of 1957, the C-Type was sold to marque enthusiast Robert Lane, a longtime Hollywood gunsmith who worked on the Paramount Pictures studio lot, and later owned one of the rare E-Type Lightweights. Lane refitted the engine block with a D-Type cylinder head with larger carburetors and ran the car at the Bonneville Salt Flats, where he was reportedly timed hitting 157 mph. After passing through an interim owner, XKC 007 was sold to Jack Ratteree of Arizona, a clarinet player in the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
The C-Type was repainted in British Racing Green around this time (having been finished in red at a prior juncture), and passed to Walt Osborne and then Richmond Johnson in 1972. Johnson retained possession of the special C-Type for 16 years, eventually selling it to Jaguar specialist Terry Larson of Mesa, Arizona. Larson arranged a sale to Jeffrey Pattinson of the United Kingdom, and then conducted a full concours-quality restoration on the new owner’s behalf. A letter from Larson in the documentation notes the car’s remarkably unrestored condition at the time, extolling the originality of the wiring harness, body panels, and hidden sections of original paint.
In early 1993, the C-Type was acquired by JCNA member Gerald Nell of Palm Desert, California, and he immediately retained Larson to conduct a full freshening, as the car was largely unused during Pattinson’s half-decade as custodian. Nell proceeded to present the important Jaguar at numerous JCNA events, where it routinely drew awards. Exhibition highlights over the next few years included a JCNA national class win, a JCNA Challenge Cup win, the Best Sportscar Award at the 1997 Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, and a class award at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Following Mr. Nell’s passing, XKC 007 was purchased by collector Gary Bartlett of Muncie, Indiana. As reflected by numerous invoices, Mr. Bartlett invested in a significant freshening of the Jaguar, retaining the respected Chris Keith-Lucas to prepare the car for niche events and rallies. Certified with a FIVA card and an MSA Historic Technical Passport, the C-Type then participated in the 2010 Mille Miglia Storico and was presented at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Mr. Bartlett also sourced a correct tool kit to complement the factory-authentic restoration work.
More recently acquired by the consignor, a respected collector of fine vintage sports cars, XKC 007 has continued to enjoy a life of pampered care and consistent maintenance as needed. It is notably documented with a copy of an original factory test report for this exact chassis number, as well as prior bills of sale, C-Type registry histories, and restoration invoices.
Piloted by the illustrious Phil Hill to the first-ever win by a C-Type in the United States, this important Coventry sports-racer is undoubtedly one of the most historically significant privateer examples of the celebrated model. As Hill later recalled, “I was just in awe of the C-Type when I first stepped into it. When I look back on it now, it makes me smile. The steering was light – almost scary light. It was the first car I ever drove that had a really precise feel about it – it really felt like a racing car.”
XKC 007 additionally benefits from extended care and restoration by two of the niche’s most respected experts, and a well-documented history. Such a striking example of Jaguar’s revered Le Mans winner should provide instantaneous entry to vintage motoring events worldwide, and it would make a peerless addition to even the most accomplished collections.
|September 6, 1952||41||SCCA National, Sheldon Cup, Elkhart Lake||Phil Hill||1st OA|
|September 7, 1952||41||SCCA National, Main Race, Elkhart Lake||Phil Hill||1st IC, 4th OA|
|September 19, 1952||2||Watkins Glen Grand Prix||Phil Hill||DNF (race stopped)|
|November 9, 1952||2||Madera Airport||Phil Hill||2nd OA|
|December 14, 1952||2||Torrey Pines||Phil Hill||1st OA|
|October 22, 1955||18||Six Hours of Torrey Pines||Carlyle Blackwell||DNF|
|December 3, 1955||18||Palm Springs||Carlyle Blackwell||10th OA|
|December 4, 1955||18||Palm Springs||Carlyle Blackwell||11th OA|
|January 15, 1956||18||One Hour Race, Torrey Pines||Carlyle Blackwell||9th OA|
|March 17, 1956||18||Preliminary Race, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||10th OA|
|March 18, 1956||18||Final Race, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||DNF|
|May 19, 1956||18||Preliminary, Bakersfield||Carlyle Blackwell||7th OA|
|May 20, 1956||18||Final, Bakersfield||Carlyle Blackwell||9th OA|
|September 1, 1956||18||Race 7, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||14th OA|
|September 2, 1956||18||Race 12, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||12th OA|
|October 20, 1956||18||Preliminary Race, Pomona||Carlyle Blackwell||10th OA|
|October 21, 1956||18||Final Race, Pomona||Carlyle Blackwell||11th OA|
|March 9, 1957||18||Preliminary Race, Paramount Ranch Raceway||Carlyle Blackwell||11th OA|
|March 10, 1957||18||Final Race, Paramount Ranch Raceway||Carlyle Blackwell||7th OA|
|May 18, 1957||18||Race 9, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||8th OA|
|May 19, 1957||18||Race 15, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||9th OA|
|September 1, 1957||18||Race 12, Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||2nd OA|
|September 1, 1957||18||Santa Barbara||Carlyle Blackwell||13th OA|