By Dean Larson

Photos courtesy of St. Louis Car Museum and Sales


XKC 051, a 1953 British racing green Jaguar C-Type, was to be driven in the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt. The #18 was disqualified in a practice session when it took the field displaying the same number as another car, so Hamilton and Rolt did the only logical thing and headed to the local pub. Unknowingly, the Jaguar team manager was able to get the car back on the grid, and the pair started the 24 Hours of Le Mans heavily under the influence. Remarkably, Hamilton and Rolt not only survived the race, they took the checkered flag and achieved a record-breaking 105.85 mph average speed.

From a pair of storied British World War II veterans like Hamilton and Rolt, the story is more than believable, but since then, all parties have denied that the drivers were intoxicated. Whether this quintessential British tale was fact or fiction, the #18 C-Type earned a place in British racing history.

Designated C for competition, the C-type Jaguar is loosely based on the mechanicals of the XK120 road car. A lightweight tubular frame, higher-strung 3.4-liter straight six and a lack of road equipment gave the C-Type exceptional performance on the track. Just 53 C-Types were manufactured from 1951-53, making them rare and very desirable. Buyers of reasonable condition C-Types should expect to spend between $4 to $5 million, and upwards of $8 to $9 million for cars with track provenance. With prices like these, it’s doubtful anyone will be tossing you the keys to their C-Type anytime soon, so why not get your own?

The builders of this 1953 C-Type replica haven’t cut any corners. It was built in Buenos Aires, Argentina by Automoviles Especiales, and while the company’s website leaves something to be desired, this C-Type does not. Its handmade aluminum bodywork was constructed using specifications from an authentic C-Type racecar, and is reported to be 100-percent correct in panel dimensions and thickness. Underneath its skin, the C-Type body rests on a tubular chassis of E-Type design with Dunlop disk brakes up front and Girling drum brakes in the rear. Borrowing again from the E-Type, the #18 has a 220 hp 4.2-liter straight six coupled to a four-speed manual transmission.

The #18 C-Type leaves few boxes unchecked in the detail section. A full set of vintage Smiths gauges and a Moto-Lita steering wheel finish off the interior accurately with a perfect worn-in feel. A true Brooklands windscreen and leather hood straps are nice touches on the exterior. 

There’s not much worth changing on this legendary British racer. The wire spoke wheels could be repainted, as original photos of Hamilton and Rolt’s racecar show the wire spoke wheels in gray. The replica could also be made a little more authentic with the addition of period-correct tires such as Englebert or Stahl Sport Radials.

With an asking price of $124,900, this C-Type replica is on the money for an aluminum-bodied example. While it’s possible to find a more accurate C-Type replica, it will most likely be priced in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, making this a great value for a high-quality C-Type that can actually be driven. Check it out at St. Louis Car Museum and Sales, and be sure to bring your leather aviator goggles!