Classic Jags set for racing return
Jaguar steps back into the 50s to race C and D types, including a return to the Mille Miglia…
There are probably many in the 2.5 billion people located across India and China who have no idea that 90 years ago, Sir William Lyons started the Swallow Car Company, which later became Jaguar.
And there are probably many of the 2.5 billion who don't know that Jaguar were pretty handy in the 1950s at something called ‘racing'. Which is why yesterday, in London's gentile RAC Club and flanked by Sir Stirling Moss, the company announced it is to revive its classic heritage fleet and indulge in historic motorsport.
It's called the ‘Jaguar Heritage Racing programme', and it will see classic Jaguar C and D-types run by JD Classics - an independent outfit based in Essex - get full Jaguar works support; it will also mean said cars will see competitive action for the first time since 1956. Says Frank Klaas from Jaguar: "We need to show new countries what this brand stands for".
Te new countries are, of course, the ever-expanding and voracious appetites of India and China, and Jaguar has struck a deal with CNN to film and broadcast these classic racing cars across the globe.
The first event for the classic Jag racers will be the legendary Mille Miglia in May this year, marking 60 years since Sir Stirling Moss and then Jaguar development-driver Norman Dewis piloted a C-type. At the time, Sir Stirling and Dewis, in typically gung-ho form, merely wanted to find a suitable venue to test the C-type's new braking system and thought the Mille would be worth a shot.
"We didn't think too much about racing in the Mille," said Sir Stirling at the launch today. "We just wanted to check the brakes".
In August the Jaguar Heritage Racing team will compete at the AVD Nürburgring Oldtimer GP, and will then head to the Goodwood Revival in September.
Jaguar's Mike O'Driscoll said: "My dream was to have a heritage racing team, and typically, it takes a German (Frank Klaas) to come over and start it up for us".
Ian Callum, design director for Jaguar, noted it was a good time to launch the heritage motorsport programme now that Jaguar had carved out a new design identity that didn't rely too heavily on the past. "Now we're in a strong place, we should be confident shouting about our heritage", he said.
What's your take, Internet? Can't wait to see classic Jags in action - reliving the glory days of Mille, Le Mans and the daredevil days of Sir Stirling and co?