With a convincing win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951, Jaguar announced its presence to the sports-car racing world. Watch the birth of a legend in this original newsreel report.
Historians like to say that 1951 marks the beginning of the modern era at Le Mans, with the introduction of the Jaguar C-Type (official designation XK-120C) and the first appearance of Porsche at the 24-hour classic. Jaguar brought three factory C-Types to the historic Sarthe circuit with a stellar lineup of drivers, including a promising youngster named Stirling Moss. Hundreds of pounds lighter than an XK-120 production car and developed specifically for racing at Le Mans, the C-Types—C stood for Competition—were capable of 160 mph.
Two of the C-Types stumbled with mechanical difficulties, but the no. 20 car of Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead climbed into the lead by around midnight, then extended its lead to six, seven, and finally nine laps at the finish, crushing the field. Jaguar would win at Le Mans five times in all in the 1950s, with a second win for the C-Type in 1953 and three wins in a row for its successor, the D-Type, in 1955 through 1957. This original 1951 newsreel feature does a wonderful job of capturing the classic flavor of Le Mans in these years. Please enjoy.