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Which D-type was this?


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#1 Mal9444

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:41

Most of us will be familiar with this old-favourite YouTube clip, recently re-posted on another (I think American) video-sharing site and sent to me by a friend.



My question is: which D-type was Hawthorn driving - and why?

And what was it doing at Le Mans in 1956?

I have looked in Andrew Whyte's book but cannot see the occasion recorded.

It seems to be a 1954 or ’55 ‘private-entrant’ short-nose (no fin on the head-fairing and ’54-style windscreen: the ’55 works cars had the new Malcolm Sayer long-nose body with head fairing and fin all-in-one and high, full-wrap, windscreen).

Could it have been taken there in 1956 for use as a practice hack? It is clearly (should that be 'surely'?) not a race entrant because for 1956 the rules were changed (after the ’55 crash) to require, among other things, full-width windscreens, full-width cockpits and proper passenger doors, none of which this car has. Also there is no race number or race number roundel. The camera mount obscures the rear registration number (which might have told us something) and there is some sort of peculiar badging or marking on the nose of the car that I do not recognise.

I am assuming that the movie was shot on a practice day some time shortly before the 1956 race - but that may not be the case at all. On the other hand Mike (this must be one of the longest continuous clips where we can hear what Mike sounded like when speaking) refers to Desmond Titterington going off in practice 'last night'.

Apologies if all this has been discussed before and I have both missed it and failed to find it through Search.

Edited by Mal9444, 02 April 2013 - 11:50.


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#2 Alan Cox

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 13:10

Sorry, Malcolm, I can't answer your queries but I would like to commend the camera technicians for the clarity of the film and what was, clearly, a superb camera mount used to produce such excellent footage.

#3 Bloggsworth

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 13:24

Seconded. Very good quality film, pity no-one went to Halfords and bought a suppressor kit!

#4 Mal9444

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 13:24

Sorry, Malcolm, I can't answer your queries but I would like to commend the camera technicians for the clarity of the film and what was, clearly, a superb camera mount used to produce such excellent footage.


They must have done several runs. If you notice that in most of the shots Mike's goggles are up on his helmet, above the peak. But in the close-up cutaways the goggles are down. Great camera work; p*ss-poor continuity...


#5 Tim Murray

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 13:54

The filming must have been carried out between official practice sessions for the race. Both Mike Hawthorn (in Challenge Me The Race) and Paul Frère (in Starting Grid to Chequered Flag) mention Titterington's accident as having taken place early on in the official practice sessions.

#6 hamsterace

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 14:08

I'm afraid I have no concrete evidence for this, but the specification of the car would seem to tally with the works demonstrator/ press car XKC 401 (Reg. No. OVC 501), would it not? Certainly that would be a logical candidate for such a use, I would have thought.

Regrettably the bootlid modifications mean that the rear number plate isn't visible, and there seems to be some sort of trade plate taped onto the bonnet which obscures where the registration number would normally appear.



#7 kayemod

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 14:15

Lovely engine noise, we don't often hear a racing straight six these days.

#8 Mal9444

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 15:06

I'm afraid I have no concrete evidence for this, but the specification of the car would seem to tally with the works demonstrator/ press car XKC 401 (Reg. No. OVC 501), would it not? Certainly that would be a logical candidate for such a use, I would have thought.

Regrettably the bootlid modifications mean that the rear number plate isn't visible, and there seems to be some sort of trade plate taped onto the bonnet which obscures where the registration number would normally appear.


That sounds the most likely explanation but the only fly in the ointment is that the car in the movie has a flat dash with dials under the steering wheel and the cockpit shot of the car in Andrew Whyte's book shows that this was one of those D-types with the instruments on an angled dash beside the driver, with no dials behind the steering wheel. The Whyte picture was taken in the '80s when the car was being, in his phrase, 'spring-cleaned'. In a fairly comprehensive note on the uses to which 401 was put AW does not mention this particular outing but that does not rule it out.

There is a peculiar dial under the steering wheel in the movie: it looks like a speedometer that is reading backwards (or at least upside down): very odd. Presumably your average racing D-type doesn't have a speedo, just a rev counter etc, but a car intended for demos and for the press to play with would have had one fitted as an extra. (Edit: in fact looking again at the start of the movie, the car has a full-width flat dash with full instrumentation and no angled panel.)

As to the Titterington accident, according to Whyte this happened on his first practice lap on the first day of practice. Damage to the car (XKD606) was 'superficial' but nonetheless led to the retriement of that car from racing and its replacement for the race with XKD603.

Edited by Mal9444, 02 April 2013 - 15:09.


#9 arttidesco

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:29

The filming must have been carried out between official practice sessions for the race. Both Mike Hawthorn (in Challenge Me The Race) and Paul Frère (in Starting Grid to Chequered Flag) mention Titterington's accident as having taken place early on in the official practice sessions.


Given that Mike has "got to be a little careful today because there is quite a lot of traffic on the road" "typical French" I would venture to suggest the film was shot on the Friday before the race when there is no practice, the empty Grandstands might also be a clue  ;)

Edited by arttidesco, 03 April 2013 - 02:30.


#10 Dipster

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:10

They must have done several runs. If you notice that in most of the shots Mike's goggles are up on his helmet, above the peak. But in the close-up cutaways the goggles are down. Great camera work; p*ss-poor continuity...



And it seems to me that at 4m13 he apparently manages to change gear with no hands whilst taking a right.... no?

But a brilliant piece of film. My French wife heard his comments about the French! "Typical Brit" was her reply......

#11 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 23:36

I like the way he constantly comments on "this bit has been improved" and how and why. Clearly a great deal of serious civil engineering work had been done post-55 apart from the obvious work to the pit area and sigalling pits at Mulsanne
Interesting to see what looks like a concrete wall on the outside of the kink before Indianapolis and another on the run through White House. I assume this must in fact be straw bales with tarpaulins over them? It gives those sections a surprisingly modern look.
Didn't realize that the Mulsanne Kink was flat-out even then! In a D Type at nearly 180mph...blimey that must have grabbed your attention !
My final thought was how the character of the run down from the Dunlop Bridge to the Esses, so rich in charm and history, has been comprehensively destroyed in the past decade. :|

#12 arttidesco

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 00:53

My final thought was how the character of the run down from the Dunlop Bridge to the Esses, so rich in charm and history, has been comprehensively destroyed in the past decade. :|


If I ever go back to Le Mans that new stretch is going to take some getting used to, though that character has been under threat ever since the Esses were put in before the Dunlop Bridge in the 1990's :(

Edited by arttidesco, 04 April 2013 - 00:53.


#13 Mal9444

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 06:53

Didn't realize that the Mulsanne Kink was flat-out even then! In a D Type at nearly 180mph...blimey that must have grabbed your attention !


In the final edition of Touch Wood Duncan Hamilton says:
"The long-nose D-type pulled 197mph in 1955 and Mike and I were the only two who could take the Mulsanne kink flat-out in the wet. In discussing this it became a case of 'Are you kidding me or not?'

"And I confided in Mike that "I go into flat and about three-quarters of the way through the head takes over and I ease my foot about half-an-inch off the throttle'. And Mike said "Put it there! That's exactly what I do!"


#14 kayemod

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:50

Didn't realize that the Mulsanne Kink was flat-out even then! In a D Type at nearly 180mph...blimey that must have grabbed your attention !


I've driven along that stretch a couple of times in road cars, but it's only when seen from a racer's point of view, that the elevation changes along the Mulsanne become apparent. With the road ahead almost hidden at times, it's remarkable that there haven't been even more crashes over the years. In Mike's commentary, he tells us that humps have been flattened at other points along the course, but it would have been a major civil engineering feat to do much to 'improve' the Mulsanne.


#15 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:54

If I ever go back to Le Mans that new stretch is going to take some getting used to, though that character has been under threat ever since the Esses were put in before the Dunlop Bridge in the 1990's :(


True. All the really famous, recognisable sections of the track, which we knew in an instant could be nowhere else, have been wiped out since the end of the 80s - the original Mulsanne corner(new alignment, no signalling pits, flattening of the last crest on the approach) , Start and finish straight (new pits and grandstands), Dunlop Bridge to the esses (THE most familiar backdrop on the whole circuit), even the Ford Chicane now looks like it could feature on any Tilke track when you see it in photos. Such is progress. :cry:

#16 kayemod

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 09:16

Maybe I should point out that the last time I drove along the Mulsanne was at least 30 years ago, as Simon says, it's changed a lot since then.

#17 Alfie

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 09:35

As my first visit to Le Mans was "only" 1972 I find the film absolutely stunning.

A little latitude on continuity is a small price to pay for an absolutely fantastic archive piece.

I laughed at the chap on the bicycle at the exit of Tertre Rouge deciding he might not take the gamble to cross the road in front of Hawthorn.

I love it!

#18 Odseybod

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 11:31

Just to confirm the Mulsanne undulations, here's a pic of the latest Turner family transport parked alongside it in 1958 (I believe after the race, rather than during it - things weren't THAT relaxed back in the day).

Posted Image



#19 kayemod

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 11:41

Just to confirm the Mulsanne undulations, here's a pic of the latest Turner family transport parked alongside it in 1958 (I believe after the race, rather than during it - things weren't THAT relaxed back in the day).


Thanks for that, it's exactly how I remember. I was astonished by the thought of P4s and GT40s going along there at around 200mph, 60ish in an Audi 80 seemed quite fast enough to me back then, though the cyclists and 2CVs I had to drive around wouldn't have been there for the racers. In the years before, I'd watched TV coverage of the race, and you get no impression of the ups & downs in footage shot from a helicopter. The other thing that impressed me at the time was how narrow much of it was, though that too has been greatly altered in more recent years.


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#20 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 16:19

And the year then is 1956 ?

#21 Odseybod

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 16:25

And the year then is 1956 ?


Bjorn - 1958 if you're asking about my pic but yes, 1956 for the Hawthorn ride.

#22 Mal9444

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 17:07

Bjorn - 1958 if you're asking about my pic but yes, 1956 for the Hawthorn ride.

And the D-type, we think, is a 1954 car.

Edited by Mal9444, 04 April 2013 - 17:08.


#23 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 17:20

Thanks , I must revise my files as my transporter rersearch has shown 1954 to be the last race where Jaguar used a support vehicle , a Bedford S heavily loaded. But the film link showes the same Bedford S twice.then in 1956. (The reason for not bringing support cars was that in 1954 it broke down to great annoyance for the Jag team). Thanks.

Edited by Bjorn Kjer, 04 April 2013 - 20:39.


#24 Mal9444

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 18:23

Thanks , I must revise my files as my transporter rersearch has shown 1954 to be the last race where Jaguar used a support vehicle , a Bedford S heavily loaded. But the film link showes the same Bedford S twice.then in 1956. (The reason for not bringing support cars was that in 1954 it broke down to great annoyance for the Jag team. Thanks.


Goodness me - what eagle eys you have, Bjorn. Extraordinary how when we all watch the same movie each of us latches on to different things as significant.


#25 D-Type

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 19:00

While we're still pondering about which D Type this is, can I ask if anyone knows which was the last year that Jaguar drove their cars out to Le Mans? I know that Lofty England felt the run out was a good shakedown. But then one of the mechanics / delivery drivers had an accident which, although neither he or the car were badly damaged, still meant a lot of work at the circuit to get it 100%. So, after that they used a transporter of some sort.

#26 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 20:38

Mal , thats why questions often turn out so much info of relevance. I wish there were more of this sort.

Duncan the last race was 1956 .

1951-52-53 (C types) driven (plus ferry) Support : Bedford M van
1954 (D types) driven (plus ferry) Support : Bedford S lorry
1955 & 56 (D types) flown (plus driven) Support : Bedford S lorry

Conclusion : Jaguar never had a racecar transporter and never used one. They did have support from their own work car (s) , and in 1954 needed help for that one.

#27 Tuboscocca

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 21:14

Just to confirm the Mulsanne undulations, here's a pic of the latest Turner family transport parked alongside it in 1958 (I believe after the race, rather than during it - things weren't THAT relaxed back in the day).

Posted Image

Tony great picture!

If you haven't said it's Mulsanne, I have thought it is after Arnage (with the forest on the right side) ??

Best regards Michael

#28 Odseybod

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 21:09

Tony great picture!

If you haven't said it's Mulsanne, I have thought it is after Arnage (with the forest on the right side) ??

Best regards Michael


Michael, I was relying on the index notes in the negative folder this was scanned from - but sometimes, they've proved to be not 100% accurate, so you could well be right. Apologies if we (father & son) have got it wrong!

#29 Paul Parker

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 15:28

That sounds the most likely explanation but the only fly in the ointment is that the car in the movie has a flat dash with dials under the steering wheel and the cockpit shot of the car in Andrew Whyte's book shows that this was one of those D-types with the instruments on an angled dash beside the driver, with no dials behind the steering wheel. The Whyte picture was taken in the '80s when the car was being, in his phrase, 'spring-cleaned'. In a fairly comprehensive note on the uses to which 401 was put AW does not mention this particular outing but that does not rule it out.

There is a peculiar dial under the steering wheel in the movie: it looks like a speedometer that is reading backwards (or at least upside down): very odd. Presumably your average racing D-type doesn't have a speedo, just a rev counter etc, but a car intended for demos and for the press to play with would have had one fitted as an extra. (Edit: in fact looking again at the start of the movie, the car has a full-width flat dash with full instrumentation and no angled panel.)

As to the Titterington accident, according to Whyte this happened on his first practice lap on the first day of practice. Damage to the car (XKD606) was 'superficial' but nonetheless led to the retriement of that car from racing and its replacement for the race with XKD603.


If nobody has already remarked upon this, the angled dashes were unique to the 1954 works D types whilst the flat dashes were used on the 'production' D types, that is the short-nose cars bought by customers, one of which MJH was driving here.

I'll try and find the chassis number of this vehicle.

#30 Tuboscocca

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 19:09

Michael, I was relying on the index notes in the negative folder this was scanned from - but sometimes, they've proved to be not 100% accurate, so you could well be right. Apologies if we (father & son) have got it wrong!



Oh no excuses, please!!!---Wonderful photo of a bygone era..And I'm not THE expert on the Le Mans track-- I was just wondering..

Thank you for sharing this photo.

Best regards Michael

#31 Sharman

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 08:54

Has anybody asked Norman Dewis? I am invited to hear him speak 26th May, if the question is not resolved by then I'll broach the subject.