Jaguar’s D-Type reason-for-being was to win Le Mans. It fulfilled that role admirably, winning in 1955, ’56, and ’57. The D-Type was not nearly as successful at the rougher surface circuits in the motorsport calendar, such as the Targa Florio or Nurburgring, …..though interestingly a D-Type did win the 1955 Sebring 12 Hours, a notoriously bumpy track.
With the C-Type (1951-53) and D-Type (1954-57) racers, Jaguar called on upgraded versions of its OverHead Cam inline-six production engine, as used in its sold-to-the-public sports cars and sedans.
In contrast, the D-type chassis employed innovative aluminum monocoque construction with aluminum-tube subframes. The narrow elliptical body cross-section displayed an aeronautical approach to aerodynamic efficiency. The D-Type’s structural design, by Jaguar’s William Heynes Chief Engineer, and body design by Malcolm Sayer, were revolutionary at the time.
An illustration of the aerodynamic efficiency are the top speeds achieved on the Mulsanne Straight by the 3.4L 1954 D-type at 173 mph, versus 160 mph for the far more powerful 4.9L V12 Ferrari.
Other cutting edge D-Type features were Dunlop disc wheels, an aviation-style collapsable fuel bag, and disc brakes. The D-Types I6 engine was both dry-sump lubrication and canted engine mounting, all to reduce frontal area. Jaguar was developing fuel injection and independent rear suspension for the D-Type, but few cars were so-equipped. D-Types weighed 1930 pounds.
The 1955 debut Le Mans cars featured a longer nose, and upgraded valve-trains, good for 250 hp. The 1956 wide-windshield cars were the last factory entries with two DNF and a sixth place finish. Fortunately, Edinburgh-based privateer team Ecurie Ecosse in their Flag Blue livery won the 1956 race. As a further French Connection, Ecurie Ecosse translates as “Team Scotland”.
Jaguar itself did not return to Le Mans in 1957, though a 3.8L D-type from Ecurie Ecosse again won the race, this time recording 179 mph on the Mulsanne. The Jag I6 engine did not adapt well to the 3.0L limit instituted for the 1958 Le Mans.
After Jaguar temporarily retired from racing as a factory team, the company offered the remaining unfinished D-Types as XKSS versions whose extra road-going equipment made them eligible for production sports car races in America. In 1957 25 of these cars were in various stages of completion when a factory fire destroyed nine of them. Total completed D-Type production is thought to have included 18 factory team race cars, 53 customer race cars, and 16 completed XKSS road-intended versions.
As of July 1957 Jaguar had four Le Mans victories, and Ferrari only two. Le Mans fortunes would thereafter diverge in Ferrari’s favour. Porsche would later trump both brands combined, as would Audi.
Three colours vie for featuring on the D-Type — British Racing Green (BRG) as used by the Factory team, and Flag Blue as used by Ecurie Ecosse are obvious candidates. BRG has a great natural stone analog in Guatemala Verde Marble. Flag Blue has the same in Blue Onyx. White with blue stripes, the American racing colours, also hold allure.
Guatemala Verde can range to the eye from mid-green through near-black-green. Overlaying the base color is subtle black, white, and grey veining. Occasional small fossil-like structures appear within the stone pattern. The finish is uniform, and the lustre is high.
With its aeronautical design influence, svelte body lines, and spaceship-evoking persona Troispétition was a natural for my flying pod style of sculpture and display. This style includes no wheels, nor tires, and no (or limited) wheel-well detail. With this flying pod style the sculptures are best viewed mounted on a stand. My stone sculpture version has a unique 1956 LeMans track-map inspired three-post aluminum stand.
Aluminum cast versions of Troispétition created by the lost-wax method harken back to when I did more metal art than stone art. Combining the two techniques, by pulling the mold for the lost wax pour off the stone sculpture, has broadened the scope of my art, and allowed lower cost versions to be offered. The aluminum cast D-Types are of the same size as the stone original, but are typically mounted on a simpler one-post aluminum stand.