#0043 - Jaguar D-Type Short Nose, XKD 530, 1956
Photographed: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, 2009. Owner: Gary W. Bartlett
Hyperbole and Such: Well I am a devotee of the British classic car magazine, Octane, and in those editions (that appear with astonishing frequency) in which it is appropriate to sing the praises of Jaguar, the D-Type appears ever so regal. But who's to complain? In the midst of all the heritage talk of late, there's been mention of Aston Martin as the quintessential British sports car, or even of Morgan as the oldest and truest British sports car. And it's all codswallop. Jaguar, (or Jag'you'are, thank you very much), are the three words that spell sports car for Great Britain, and though they cannot give proper justice to the name of the animal—family: Panthera onca—the mechanical form of the same is a true masterpiece.
Simple, light, and reliable, the D-Type was down on power and funding and still managed to win Le Mans three years running, from 1955 to 1957. Perhaps it was a nice blend of luck and longevity, but certainly the car was built to victory's specification. In the end, however, a car so absolutely beautiful in line can't be shunned. Shapes like the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa by Scaglietti or the Aston Martin DBR-1, particularly in early 1957 form, show a classical affinity for line and flow. But the dynamism alive in the D-Type is defined by how curves of a similar nature are first exaggerated and then carried around the flanks so that the whole body wraps itself up in a nice, stout package. This is no doubt a measure of the monocoque chassis underneath, excepting the space frame out in front to hold the motor and the wide bonnet.
And the disc brakes, yes, and every stogy comment about il Commendatore and his disposition against the things. But at this point we can diverge, and return to the point that the car itself is just so beautiful. We can compare it to the Italians in this way: Hitherto the post-War era, Italian design was sporting. German design was sporting, too, and even once upon a time the French had the knack for sporting design. But the British had Bentley, an incongruous abomination of the mainstay sporting concept regardless of the era—effective and magnificent, yes, but sporting in their own way and nobody else's were Bentley.
But here in the mid 1950s arose a sense of British sporting design. It was also seen in Austin Healey, Lister, and Lotus, but if you wish to personify this aesthetic, the full stretch is that a British sporting design is like a D-Type. When the XK-120 appeared in 1949, it showed the way forward for British sports cars, and to no small extent sports cars in general. Yet, as was alluded to in the piece on the BMW 328, William Lyons had clear guidance for the XK-120 design. The D-Type, on the other hand, is where all of that inspiration was headed, and by the time it arrived, the ideas that once came from other products in other countries had either been perfected or replaced by a particular flavor of engineering. At last, Great Britain had a winning aesthetic—seductive, desirable, and conceived in-house.
The D-Type made the world take racing green seriously. I much prefer the short nose because it truncates the front quarters, preserving their cat-like spring to the fore. The long nose versions smooth the lines a bit, which is a more classical form and not as specific to the D-Type aesthetic. That sort of undulation is better executed by Lister, whereas in the D-Type we can liken the purposeful design approach to the British warplanes of the previous decade—these of stout performance with a discreet beauty underneath. Moreso than most period cars, the D-Type recaptures that fine blend of subtle aggression.
The Long Tale of Short Nose XKD 530: Let's start off this way: With two different cars using chassis #530 as their own, I am not going to make a pitch as to which is the rightful claimant. The car pictured here is titled PAS 645 and has a simple headrest fairing, whereas the other is titled XSV 979 and has a fin attached to the headrest fairing. While this car, PAS 645, has been shown at Pebble Beach and Villa d'Este as XKD 530, the other example was reported by Christie's to be the true, original XKD 530 by the FIA Eligibility Working Group of Geneva. According to Christie's, in spite of the findings of the Group that XSV 979 is really chassis #530, owners of both cars were issued official FIA documentation for the same chassis number, only that these conflicting documents were offered by different arms of the FIA, presumably without adequate communication between them. My caveat to this bit of information is that I might have further confused the issue by assuming XSV 979 and PAS 645 are not one in the same themselves, and that since 2004 the present owner did not remove the fin from the fairing and re-title the car. In that case, some other version out there is the less credible XKD 530.
Head spinning yet? This numbers game is just as bad as the Maserati A6 GCS Pininfarina Berlinetta. In any case, I do believe XSV 979 is still under European ownership.
Now, let's talk about where this controversy comes from. We have to go back to 1966. At the time, one whole car known as XKD 530 had been run very hard and very successfully in Finland by Kurt Lincoln (sometimes spelled 'Curt') and later by his own Scuderia Askolin. While Lincoln had two wins himself on the national sports car stage, the most noteworthy driver to use the car was a very young Timo Makkinen, later to become a well known ralley driver. Anyhow, the boys in Finland weren't shy about modifying the car themselves, and did so around 1958, changing the windscreen and, though it seems only on occasion, the headrest fairing. In 1959, the car received a proper overhaul at the factory, where the base 3.4 litre motor was bored to 3.8 litres. It was painted white for the Askolin team and sent back to Finland, (and how the fairing looked at that point is anyone's guess). By the time the car came to a racing Jaguar specialist, Nigel Moores, in 1966, the car was disfigured and battle-tired, having seen the worst of racing fiercely through typically Finnish weather conditions.
Some photos are floating around the internet of the car with a bob-tail and square roll cage, looking like a cobbled together special rather than a lithe D-Type. However, the monocoque had also suffered. During the 1966 overhaul, the chassis was split in two as Moores decided which bits they were going to keep and which bits would be put away in storage. Apparently, the front subframe, including the portion that extends back underneath the monocoque, was retained. From the monocoque itself, the name plate and lower portions were cut apart and retained. Most of the body was set aside, being badly damaged, as was the original motor. A new monocoque was formed by William & Prichard, incorporating those portions retained from 530, along with a long nose style body. To this car, a factory built 3.8 litre motor was fitted, one with the wide-angle head as it was originally intended for XKD 605 which, so many years earlier, went to race at Sebring. Jaguar apparently opted for a 3.8 litre fuelie in that race, and so had this block on hand.
The car we've just described, with the 3.8 litre wide-angle motor and original name plate from 530, is the Christie's car, XSV 979. Sometime after 1989, the body was converted back to short nose specification, so it appears very similar to that which we have here. As to this example, PAS 645...
...Well the tossed aside bits from the Nigel Moores project were sold upon his death. Using as much of the salvaged body that was remaining, which mostly comprised the tail section, and doing the same for the original monocoque, a new Lynx Engineering sub-frame was fitted to complete a new Franken-Jag not so disimilar from the William & Prichard car described above. The former of course carries the original subframe, half the monocoque, and the original number plate, mated to a Works motor. The second car, however, has the other half of the original monocoque, some few parts of the original body, and had dropped into it the original up-rated 3.8 litre motor along with the original gearbox. So it's arguable that, minus the damned chassis number plate, the second car contains as much of the original stuff of XKD 530 as does the first car. At least, that's the way it seems at a glance, and it sure wasn't in Christie's favor to say so when the first car was up for sale in 2004.
Such is the convoluted world of collector cars—when people decide all of this really makes the value of an automobile, and not the corporeal substance itself. As it was, at auction in 2004 the car realized a sales price at the very low end of its estimate, so apparently the market took Christie's full disclosure to heart. And here I'm not quite so drawn to deciding one way or another about these two cars. In fact, I like it much better to think that both are XKD 530, or that XKD 530 ended in 1966, and two offspring came henceforth.
Perhaps it's fitting for a car that started its life under devious circumstances. In order to get around Finnish tax law for new cars, XKD 530 was shipped new to Kurt Lincoln with worn pedals, an old steering wheel, old seat covers, and something more than 5,000 kilometers artificially logged on the odometer. So maybe it's just karma that XKD 530 drifted into obscurity, losing its true identity to history, but for serving its brutish purpose on the frozen tundra of Scandinavia.
Christie's: Explaining the varied history of these cars from the standpoint of the first of the two.
Coventry Racers: Their information on XKD 530, including photos of the same car we have here.
Racing Sports Cars: Please note they provide some information about Kurt (Curt) Lincoln and Scuderia Askolin, but much of it does not match the Christie's account. For example, Lincoln is said to have won at Djurgard Olympic Park in Helsinki on XKD 530's first time out back in 1956, having beaten both a Ferrari 375 MM in second, and a Mercedes-Benz 300-SL in third. Racing Sports Cars has this win listed as Elaintarhanajo, which does not seem to be the case. From their records, however, we can see that in that same victory a C-Type placed fourth, two XK-120s placed fifth and sixth, and an Austin-Healey 3000 placed seventh—a very strong outing for English makes.
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