Jaguar D-Type #4 – Spark

1956 Jaguar D-Type 
Pilots: N. Sanderson, R. Flockhart 
Team: Ecurie Ecosse 
Race: 1st overall (S 5.0 class) at Le Mans in 1956 
Spark - 43LM56 (resin) 

Published 06/06/18

The D-Type was the car Jaguar Cars created to substitute the highly successful C-Type (XK120C) of 1951. Though it shared basically the same XK6 engine of its predecessor, the body and chassis were very different. The cockpit section was of monocoque construction, basically composed of sheets of an aluminum alloy. With its elliptical shape and comparatively small cross-section it provided torsional rigidity, with the benefit of reduced drag. For better weight distribution, the fuel tank was in the rear. But instead of a conventional tank, Jaguar used a deformable Marston Aviation Division bag.

At the time, the D-Type was the cream of motor sports.

The engine was the tested & true XK6, a DOHC inline 6-cylinder with 12 valves and 3442 cm³. First introduced by Jaguar in 1949, it was fed through two SU-H6 carburetors producing around 220 hp in race tune. To reduce the engine’s height, Jaguar used two stratagems. First, they developed a dry sump lubrication system, and second, the engine was canted at about 8º from the vertical. The D-Types first appeared at La Sarthe in 1954. The following year, despite the tragic accident, Mike Hawthorn & Ivor Bueb came in first with their D-Type #6. For 1956 the race was postponed until July, because the whole circuit was renovated for safety reasons, and the new pit area was only ready at the end of June.

D-Type #4
The dark blue of the D-Type #4 looks terrific on the car.

For the race on the improved circuit the Jaguar works team had three D-Types in the fray, however all but Hawthorn’s & Bueb’s car managed to finish the race, coming in 6th place. But there were also two more Ds in the race, one from the Equipe Nationale Belge, that managed a 4th place, and Ecurie Ecosse’s lone #4. The D-Type of Sanderson and Flockhart was up against fierce competition from Aston Martin’s and Ferrari’s works cars, but managed valiantly to cross the finish line in first, just one lap ahead of Peter Collins’ and Stirling Moss’ Aston DB3 S.

D-Type #4
Note the glass canopy that covers the passenger seat.

I’ll be blunt: I’m a bit prejudiced against the D-Type (and specially Hawthorn, and also Jaguar) because of the 1955 accident. I recognize that the D-Type was a groundbreaking car, with some really elegant solutions that appeal to the gearhead in me, but the tragedy of 1955 kind of takes the luster away. All right, the car is not to blame, but well… Yes, it is an idiosyncrasy of mine and maybe (maybe!) professional help would be in order. But that’s how I feel.

In 143rd, this is Spark at its finest.

However, my feelings did warm up towards the car after this D-Type #4. Without a doubt it’s the nicest pre-1960 race car in my collection, both detail and livery-wise. The Ecurie Ecosse blue (more like a dark blue in my eyes) is absolutely beautiful, and the car REALLY stands out. Spark did a fantabulous job on the model, and it looks nothing short of terrific.

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