The 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will honor the immortal Jaguar D-type on the 60th anniversary of its third consecutive and final victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race it was created to win.
Jaguar Chairman William Lyons considered the 24 Hours of Le Mans the most important race on the international calendar. From 1951 Jaguar won the 24 Hours five times in seven years. That competition record spurred Jaguar sales and invested the Coventry-based company with an international luster and a mystique it still enjoys.
Even after six decades the D-Type Jaguar remains one of the most alluring automotive shapes of all time. Its sculptured aerodynamic silhouette employs modern aircraft design theory and construction. In four years (1954 through 1957) the D-Type won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times. It is a record that stands with the fabled Bentley Boys of the 1920s, Britain’s first Le Mans heroes.
“The Jaguar D-Type was created to win Le Mans,” said Bill Warner,founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance. “Yet the D-Type raced and won practically everywhere, especially America.” Twenty percent of D-Type production had long lives in America. No surprise. “The D-Type raced at Sebring, Daytona — beach course and the Speedway — at Bonneville, even on drag strips and airport circuits. Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser raced a D-Type at Sebring: impressive such a specialized design,” said Warner.
The World Sports Car Championship was young in 1955 when Jaguar’s svelte D-Type became the first car to win the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year.
Jaguar’s D-type won Le Mans again in 1956, this time in the Scottish Blue livery of Edinburgh-based Ecurie Ecosse, making their Le Mans debut. It was the beginning of a heroic legend, the type that suits the legend and lore of the 24 Hours of Le Mans perfectly.
The 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans began like a Grand Prix sprint. The powerful Italians and their Formula 1 stars went at each other without quarter. The blue D-Types ran to a fast yet strict plan letting the red cars exhaust themselves. Before midnight the red cars had faded and Jaguars were well in the lead with three privately entered D-Types in their very rapid and regular wake. Jaguar D-Types finished first – second – third – fourth and sixth!
Across seven years Jaguar’s D-Type raced at the sharp end of the most famous, most romantic and very likely the most dangerous sports car race of all . . . the one race it was designed to win.
“The D-Type is a classic sports racing car that gets extra credit as the car that not only won Le Mans three times, but gave birth to two more Jaguar classics, the XKSS and the XKE,” said Warner. “We are honored to have both the 1956 and 1957 Le Mans winning D-Types anchor our 2017 Jaguar D-Type class.”
About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $3.0 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Shop with Cops, and other deserving charities. In 2013 and 2016 the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance won Octane Magazine’s EFG International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award.The 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 10-12, 2017. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org.