- The auction was held yesterday by RM Sotheby’s in Monterey, California
- Three people bid for the car before it was eventually sold for £8.4million
- The stunning car managed to win fourth place at Le Mans back in 1953
The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice.
In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and 3-times Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker/Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th.
In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the car vulnerable to overheating. All three retired from the race. The Peter Whitehead/Ian Stewart and Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton cars blew head gaskets, and the Stirling Moss/Peter Walker car, the only one not overheating having had a full-sized radiator hurriedly fitted, lost oil pressure after a mechanical breakage. Later testing by Norman Dewis at MIRA after the race proved that it was not the body shape that caused the overheating but mainly the water pump pulley that was undersize, spun too fast, caused cavitation and thus the overheating. In addition the header tank was in front of the passenger-side bulkhead, far from the radiator, and the tubing used was 7/8 inch. When the tubing diameter was increased to 1 1/4 inch and the water pump pulley increased in diameter, the car ran without problem. What the body shape did do though was to create enormous tail lift, which caused the cars to squirrel their way down the Mulsanne (properly called the Hunaudières) straight at speeds over 120 mph (193 km/h). The chassis numbers of the cars were XKC 001, 002 and 011, the last existing today as a normal C-type, the others being dismantled at the factory.
In 1953 C-Type’s won again – placing 1, 2, and 4.  This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp (164 kW). Philip Porter mentions additional changes:
Further weight was saved by using a rubber bag fuel tank … lighter electrical equipment and thinner gauge steel for some of the chassis tubes … [T]he most significant change to the cars was the [switch to] disc brakes.
Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph (170.35 km/h) – the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h).
Disc brakes were novel in 1953, and Jaguar’s win, partly due to their superiority, set off a scramble to include discs in production cars.
1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters.