A closer look at the ‘time machine’ Jaguar headed for Monaco
Bonhams forthcoming Monaco Sale on May 13 will feature the world’s finest as-original, running, long-term preserved ‘time-machine’ Jaguar C-Type, UK road-registered ‘POV 114’.
On January 14, 1955, this outstanding example of Jaguar’s double-Le Mans-winning XK120C design was registered under chassis number ‘XKC 011’, and was sold ex-works to the Dunlop Rubber Company. It survives today in essentially identical specification.
The preceding history of Jaguar’s works team car ‘XKC 011’ embraces the 1952 Le Mans 24-Hours, the 1953 Mille Miglia and Targa Florio, plus a race win at Goodwood, when driven by such Jaguar stalwarts as Sir Stirling Moss, Major Tony Rolt and Peter Walker.
The Jaguar world at large has long accepted a contemporary works team anecdote that a subsequent body swap saw chassis ‘XKC 011’ fitted with the body from sister car ‘XKC 047’, which had itself been campaigned by the Belgian Ecurie Francorchamps team during the 1953 Sports Car World Championship season.
As works prepared, and tended by Jaguar factory team mechanics, ‘XKC 047’ competed in two 1953 24-Hour races – at Le Mans and at Spa-Francorchamps – plus the ADAC 1,000 Kilometres classic at the Nürburgring in Germany. ‘XKC 047’ finished 9th overall in the great French race, co-driven by its formal owner Roger Laurent / Baron Charles de Tornaco. At Spa Laurent shared it with future Ferrari personality Jacques Swaters and at the Nürburgring with Ferrari’s great future three-time Le Mans-winner Olivier Gendebien.
Bonhams’ comprehensive investigation of ‘XKC 011’ (aka ‘POV 114’) to be offered at Monaco, initially revealed evidence identifying its chassis as having been the works team car which substituted at the last moment as the Ecurie Francorchamps
entry in the 1954 Le Mans 24-Hour race. After our attention was drawn to other features of the car, further inspection now indicates that such participation is in fact debatable.
It is therefore probable that ‘XKC 011’ as now offered by Bonhams is not really a split-identity car at all. Present opinion is that it is likely the 1953 car, chassis ‘XKC 047’ – still bearing its original, complete ‘K 1047’ body – subsequently re-stamped ‘XKC 011’ at the factory before delivery to Dunlop in 1955.
‘POV 114’ continued to be maintained by the factory when it served as a test car for Dunlop, and during its club-racing days in the hands of owner-drivers Mike Salmon, Gordon Lee and Robin Sturgess into the 1960s.
It was acquired by the Griffiths family in 1963 and it is to be offered at Monaco direct from this self-same ownership, 53 long years later.
Most significantly, it has been preserved virtually untouched in wonderfully well-patinated ‘time machine’ condition to this day.
James Knight, Group Motoring Director of Bonhams, commented, “Bonhams has been assisted in its investigation regarding this famous Jaguar C-Type by a wealth of experts, and tremendous thanks are due to British Jaguar authority Den Carlow, motoring writer Marc Noordeloos, Jaguar enthusiast Jeremy McChesney, Chris Keith-Lucas of CKL Engineering Ltd, Gary Pearson of Pearsons Engineering, Australian Jaguar authorities Les Hughes and Terry McGrath, and Andrew Tart of Andrew Tart Motor Engineering.
“While officially sold by the Jaguar factory as ‘XKC 011′, the histories of ‘011′ and ‘047’ – which became intertwined during the preceding 1954 Le Mans race period – have baffled any number of Jaguar enthusiasts and historians over the years. These recent collective efforts – most notably with the total support of the long-term owner – are getting closer to unlocking this exciting mystery in this gloriously-preserved old war-horse’s very early life.”
Bonhams inaugural Monaco Sale will present an exclusive auction of just 40 hand-picked, exceptional motor cars. Timed to coincide with the Monaco Grand Prix Historique, the Sale will take place on 13 May 2016. The venue for this grandest of motoring auctions is the prestigious Fairmont Monte Carlo hotel, overlooking the Grand Prix circuit’s famous ‘Station’ hairpin, scene of so much motor sporting drama.