• Jaguar C-Type  in the colors of the Ecurie Ecosse
  • Jaguar C-Type Lowdrag, modified for Le Mans 1952 - Copyright by Sicnag

Jaguar XK120C (C-Type)

XK = engine (X-experimental/K-type series)
120 = maximum speed
C = competition

Construction period May 1951 to August 1953
basis price £ 2327

3 factory vehicles build for motorsport
53 vehicles build for private sale

chassis numbers: XKC001 to XKC054



Based on the XK120, Jaguar developed a race car called XK120C or simply C-Type, for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The letter 'C' stands for the English expression "Competition". Seven months, the engineers and technicians have time to complete three vehicles get out of ideas, plans and models, prepare for the race circuit. This happens in addition to the normal daily business, a separate department only for the business of racing did not exists at that time. The streamlined aluminum body is designed by Malcolm Sayer, based on the Italian Barchetta style. In difference to the XK120, the body consists not out of a front and rear sections, but out of a complete part. The front offers no gaps where air turbulences can occur. Sayer knows a lot about aerodynamics, through its past activities and the first thing he built on the premises of the Jaguar Car Ltd. is a wind tunnel. Later he is also responsible for the design of the Jaguar D-Type and E-Type.
The old XK120 body completely replaced by a tubular frame to reduce weight. This is developed under the direction of William Heynes, by Bob Knight and Derrick White. The combination of body and chassis makes the Jaguar streamlined and lightweight. Through the experience gained, in the following years, the vehicle is continuously developed and improved. While drum brakes and two H8 SU carburetors still used in the first races, at the end front and rear disc brakes, a thinner and thereby lighter aluminum body, as well as three Weber twin carburettors and larger cylinder heads are installed in the vehicles. Later these engines are build into the SE versions of series-production vehicles.

Racing Success

The active racing time of the Jaguar C-Type begins with his development in 1951 and ends in 1965. In these 15 years, he gains about 120 wins and takes part in over 550 races. He has its period of prosperity in the years 51 to 54. The racing history of the C-Type would probably never have become so long and spectacular, if the arguably greatest success would not adjust at the beginning, it all starts in a small town in France ...

With the drivers Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead in the C-Type start number 20 (XKC003) Jaguar wins after 267 laps, 2243 miles and an average speed of 92.58 mph, on the 22/23 June 1951 the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The three company Jaguar lead the field for four hours, in position 1, the start number 22 (XKC002) under Stirling Moss / Jack Fairman, in position 2 Peter Walker / Peter Whitehead and in position 3, the start number 23 (XKC001) Leslie Johnson / Clemente Biondetti. Johnson and Biondetti have to give up in the 50th lap due to oil pressure problems. The Regulations requires that problems can be solved only with the tool, which can be transported in the vehicle. The race is over for the team. After eight hours in the race Moss and Faimann suffer the same problem, but not without having to break the lap speed record. The engineers can find the cause and give their information to the last remaining team. Finally the resulting driving behavior leads to success.
Also at the RAC Tourist Trophy (start number 7) on the Dundrod circuit in Ireland and Goodwood (start number 11), the C-Type secures himself the first place in September. The driver in both races and previously at Le Mans has already gained race experiences on the Jaguar XK120. He will be once a legendary racing driver, Stirling Moss.
The year 1952 first begins modestly. After a fourth place at Goodwood in April and the retirement in the Mille Miglia on 4 May, in the same month Jaguar wins with the C-Type at Silverstone. Again, Jaguar owe the victory Stirling Moss with the start number 40 on C-Type XKC002.
In 1952 during the Mille Miglia, for the first time Jaguar insert disc brakes in a C-Type. Driver of the C-Type with the start number 619 are Stirling Moss and the former Jaguar chief development engineer Norman Dewis. The disc brakes pays off in the same year. In May, Stirling Moss wins the Grand Prix of Reims in France with the Jaguar C-Type XKC005, start number 50. In June the same year this car attends at the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo, in August wins in Boreham and Turnberry and in September gets the second prize in Goodwood. Finally there will be the C-Type XKC006 with a victory in Charterhall in October, but for the team Ecurie Ecosse in the national colors of Scotland, Stirling Moss went with his C-Type XKC005 as second through the goal.
However the 24 Hours of Le Mans bring Jaguar no luck in this year 1952. The 300SL, brought into the race from Mercedes, after 22 years absence, which already takes part in the Mille Migra is surprisingly fast despite the smaller engine performance. Inspired by Stirling Moss, who knows the Mercedes 300SL from the competition, the Jaguar engineers let Mezedhes to design changes (see photo above right), the intension - more speed. Through the late changes, shortly before the competition starts, the three company C-Types (XKC001, XKC002, XKC011) go at the start without test runs, also lack the much needed disc brakes, supposedly not been sufficiently checked yet, it will be a disaster. Soon they have two problems. The aerodynamic modifications cause the C-Type rather to fly than to drive. However the second problem, will finally cost Jaguar the victory. An inefficient water flow in the new cooling system that is developed to fit under the long nose of the new design, ensures that two of the C-Type failed due overheating after an hour. Later the third car with the drivers Moss and Walker have to give up due to oil pressure problems. Mercedes runs a one-two victory. The irony, the Mercedes were not so fast as initially predicted.
The following year, on 14 June 1953, Jaguar also countered with a one-two victory. Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton get the first place with its C-Type XKC051. Although the two are disqualified from the race management, as there are provided two C-Types with the start number 18  and they drowning their salvation in alcohol. Just before the race starts, William Lyons settle the matter for the better.
Two years after the first Le Mans victory in average  the C-Type is 13mph faster  and  thereby cover 37 additional laps. Moss and Walker come in second with the C-Type XKC053 and the start number 17. Whitehead and Stewart to finish as fourth with the C-Type XKC052.

This time the cars fitted with disc brakes and in old tried and tested design. In July the same year Stirling Moss to finish in second at Monsanto with start number 26. Also overseas the Jaguar is active in competition. 1953 and 1954 a C-Type (XKC029) takes part at the Carrera Panamericana, a race 1900 miles across Mexico, both times without success.
1954, the last year of its production, the Jaguar C-Type XKC012, with the start number 16, driven by the Belgian team Ecurie Francorchamps, complete once again with a fourth place in the front position at Le Mans.  Although this year many victories can be taken, especially from team Ecurie Ecosse, but the replacement has already been announced on the great tracks of racing history. At Le Mans the Jaguar company team is already in second place - with the successor, the Jaguar D-Type.



inline 6 cylinder 4 stroke


two overhead camshafts (DOHC), which are driven via chain


valve angle 70o, overhead valves


2 x H6 carburettor later 2 x H8 carburettor
3 x 40 DCO3 Weber double carburettor (after 1953)

bore x stroke

83 x 106 mm


3442 cc


193 bhp at 5800 rpm
217 bhp at 5200 rpm (after 1953)

maximum torque

220 lb ft at 3900 rpm

compression ratio





front: drum brakes
disc brakes (after 1953)
rear: drum brakes
disc brakes (after 1953)


4 speed manual, as off second speed synchronized, transfer over prop shaft to the rear axle

wheel suspension

front: wishbone with torsion bar springs and hydraulic shock absorbers
rear: rigid axle with pressure- and tension pipes connected with strut brace and hydraulic shock absorbers


aluminum body


7 ft 11 in


13 ft 1 in


5 ft 4 in


3 ft 6 in

maximum speed

144 mph

acceleration 0–60 mph

8.2 sec

kerb weight

18,46 cwt. l.
17,48 cwt. l. (after 1953)