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One of the greatest Jaguar race cars of all time is making a comeback

These days, it seems Jaguar is as interested in bringing old cars back from the dead as it is in creating new ones. Following its revival of the Lightweight E-Type and XKSS as so-called “continuation” models, Jaguar is bringing another classic model back for a limited production run. This time, it’s the D-Type, the shark-finned speedster that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955, 1956, and 1957.

As with the Lightweight E-Type and XKSS, Jaguar would prefer that you not call this new D-Type a replica. The 25 cars Jag plans to build will be identical to the originals in every way, as if the factory workers had just come back from a six-decade lunch break. Jaguar said it planned to build 100 D-Types back in the day, but only 75 were completed in the original production run. Jaguar sees itself as finishing what it started in the 1950s.

The story of a production run cut short echoes that of the Lightweight E-Type and XKSS, and is Jag’s defense against anyone who would call the new cars replicas or re-creations. Like the last two class-car projects, the D-Type will be built to meticulous standards. Engineers will use original drawings to re-create the car at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works, the automaker’s in-house classic car shop.

As a three-time Le Mans winner, the D-Type helped establish Jaguar’s performance reputation. With its streamlined bodywork and signature fin behind the driver’s seat, the D-Type is also one of the best-looking cars to roll out of any factory, anywhere. It also recalls a time when race cars weren’t all that different from production models. When the D-Type became uncompetitive on the track, Jaguar converted the remaining inventory into XKSS road cars.

Re-creating the XKSS led Jag to revive the D-Type. Since the two models are so similar, a lot of the work for the D-Type had already been done in the process of bringing the XKSS back. Lessons learned from the XKSS gave engineers a “head start” on re-creating the D-Type, Kev Riches, engineering manager for Jaguar Classic, said in a statement.

An “engineering prototype” of the new D-Type will be unveiled at the Retromobile classic car show in Paris on February 7. Interested wannabe racers with deep pockets can contact Jaguar about reserving one of the 25 production models.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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