While race teams and fans are looking forward to this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jaguar is looking back.
Just days before the 85th running of the legendary race gets underway, Jaguar is unveiling its new Classic Works in Coventry, England, which will restore and maintain classic cars from both Jag and its sibling brand, Land Rover. The facility’s June 14 grand opening coincided with the anniversary of Jaguar’s 1953 Le Mans win, the second of its seven victories in the French race.
To mark the occasion, Jaguar rolled out three of its winningest race cars: a C-Type, a D-Type, and an XJR-9. The C-Type gave Jaguar its first two Le Mans wins, in 1951 and 1953. D-Types won the race three times (1955, 1956, 1957) and served as the basis for the legendary XKSS road car. The XJR-9 scored a win in 1988; Jaguar last won the race in 1990.
The new Classic Works facility will focus on servicing and restoring Jaguar and Land Rover models that have been out of production for more than a decade. It will also handle the XKSS “continuation” program, which will see nine new cars built to the same specifications as the 1957 originals. Classic Works will also house Jaguar Land Rover’s corporate collection of 500 vintage cars.
Jaguar Land Rover wants to make classic cars and the experiences that surround them a bigger part of its business. It will sell fully restored cars (dubbed “Legends”), and even hired 1988 Le Mans winner Andy Wallace as the official test driver for these cars. The company also plans to continue offering driving events that let people get behind the wheel of the vintage machinery, as well as public tours of Classic Works, which are set to begin in September.
While Jaguar is rightfully proud of its past Le Mans glory, don’t expect it to return to the 24-hour race anytime soon. Right now, Jaguar’s only major motor sport commitment is Formula E, a race series for electric cars. Jag’s relatively new team hasn’t won any races yet.
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