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Jaguar to make 25 new D-Type roadsters that will look like 1957's original

Tim Hannig, the director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, characterised the car as a 'once-in-a-lifetime' project.

Hannah Elliott | Bloomberg 

A Jaguar symbol is seen outside the Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood assembly plant in Liverpool
A Jaguar symbol is seen outside the Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood assembly plant in Liverpool

has revealed its third-ever continuation car, the D-Type.

The six-cylinder roadster joins the Lightweight E-Type and the XKSS continuation cars in the program the company developed in 2014 to reissue modernized versions of its most iconic models. This latest car, although made this year, will look exactly like the original D-type, which won the Le Mans 24 Hours race three times from 1955 to 1957.

In an email, Tim Hannig, the director of Land Rover Classic, characterised the car as a “once-in-a-lifetime” project.

He is biased. But it’s true that this recreation—which, judging from previous continuations, is likely to cost more than 1 million pounds ($1.4 million)—is a special car. One that was once owned by Bernie Ecclestone, the eccentric former head of Formula 1, was offered for sale for $12 million last month at a Gooding & Co. auction in Arizona. While that one didn’t sell, Sotheby’s sold a 1955 D-Type in 2016 for almost $22 million. Against those prices, this new one, for what will likely cost less than $2 million, is practically a steal.

The D-Type is so special because of its rarity, racing wins, and body styling. Its shape was heavily influenced by the most advanced aeronautical technology of the time, with a monocoque cockpit fashioned from sheets of aluminum alloy. At the time, designers followed a practice that originated in the field of aviation: stashing the fuel in the vehicle’s tail.

Every aspect of the new version will follow authentic, original specifications, including the sleek hood, wide-angle cylinder heads, quick-change brake calipers, and unmistakable tail fin. The interior will have the same round speedometer dial, thin wooden and metal-perforated steering wheel (right-hand drive, of course), and four-speed manual shifter. The steel on the exterior will also be the alloy. At the time of its original debut, the car had 250 horsepower and could hit a top speed of 167 miles per hour.

Clients can even choose to buy either a 1955-spec shortnose or a 1956-spec longnose version. (Yes, there are still some available to buy.) Deliveries will start later this year.

Twenty-five will be made—considerably more than the six Lightweight E-Types built in 2014 and the nine XKSS’s it built in 2017.

A spokesman for Jaguar, owned by Tata Motors Ltd., said the increase reflects that only 75 were completed of an original production run that had been intended in 1955 to reach 100, though it’s safe to say the company will make a tidy profit producing these modern historic vehicles. Tata’s Land Rover Ltd. has done similar work on a far less-expensive and rarefied scale to much success with its Land Rover Classic and Range Rover Rebuild programs. The Range Rover Rebuild program, for instance, reissues small batches (fewer than a dozen) of 1970s-era Range Rovers to capitalize on the explosion of interest in them on the vintage market.

The new D-Type will make its first public appearance at the Salon Retromobile on Wednesday, Feb. 7 in Paris.

First Published: Wed, February 07 2018. 08:40 IST