1953 Jaguar C-type NDU 289 (Chassis XKC045) Bought for the 1953 Mille Miglia

Mario Tadini

This C-type – chassis XKC045, registered as NDU 289 when built in 1953, is one of the later production cars, and unlike the 1953 Works cars which had the new disc brakes, it was still fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes.

It was sold as a Personal Export Delivery to the Italian driver Mario Tadini who entered it in the 1953 Mille Miglia.  Tadini had been racing in the Mille Miglia since 1930 with his highest previous finish as a 2nd place.  Sadly he and his co-driver Pietro Cagnana did not finish.

Mario Tadini who was one of the major investors in the most famous team in motor racing history – Scuderia Ferrari.  This was conceived by chance over dinner on November 16 1929.  The idea was to form an organisation to run wealthy enthusiasts under the stewardship of sometime racer Enzo Ferrari.  Textile heirs Augusto and Alfredo Caniato backed the scheme along with Tadini whose money came from a chain of clothes shops he owned in Bologna.

In mid 1954 NDU 289 was sold to Ivo Badaracco in Switzerland and he drove it in the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix (he had driven an XK120 in the same race in 1953) where he finished 3rd.  It was sold on a couple of times, first to Silvio Moser and then to Hans Haag in 1960 and used mainly for hill climbs and some club level races.

Sir Anthony Bamford bought it and brought it back to the UK who then sold it on again.  It was advertised in Motor Sport from July to September 1970, by David Mulvaney of Brian’s Classics in Didsbury, Manchester, described as rebuilt to concours condition.  It was bought by Mike Bob Roberts the former owner of the Midland Motor Museum at bridgnorth and was raced for Roberts by Mike Barker.

Sometime in the 1980s it was fitted a new reproduction bonnet after the original was damaged racing.  The car was bought for the JDHT in 1983 and the original bonnet was acquired in 2000.  The car is normally on display in the Jaguar racing section in the main building of the British Motor Museum at Gaydon  and the (lightly damaged) bonnet is mounted on the ‘mesh wall’ in the Collection Centre building.

The C-type brought Jaguar its first victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race.  The XK120 had demonstrated its abilities in racing, by finishing twelfth in the 1950 Le Mans race driven by Leslie Johnson.  It was clear that the company had the makings of a world-beater, so chief engineer William Heynes set to work to create a competition version – the XK120C, or C-type, primarily to race at Le Mans.

Using the XK120’s proven engine, transmission and front suspension, Heynes devised a more rigid, lightweight tubular chassis.  This was fitted with a handsome wind-cheating aluminium body, designed by Malcolm Sayer, the ex-Bristol aerodynamicist.  The engine was tuned to 260 bhp, the brakes were improved, and the rear suspension now used transverse torsion bars.  The first cars were ready in the spring of 1951.

Almost immediately, three cars were entered at Le Mans.  During the race two cars retired but the third, driven by Peter Whitehead and Peter Walker, won at an average speed of 93 mph (150 km/h).  The C-type body was modified for the 1952 race, but all the team cars retired with cooling problems.  For the 1953 race Jaguar reverted to the original body design, albeit made of lighter gauge aluminium, and fitted the cars with the revolutionary Dunlop disc brakes.  The three cars entered finished first, second and fourth.  The winners, Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton, averaged a speed of over 100 mph (161 km/h) for the first time in the history of the Le Mans race.

Although the C-type was a hand-built machine, it was listed in Jaguar’s sales catalogue (at a price of £2,327), and of the 53 cars built, 43 were sold to private owners.

Race Results

Year

Date

Race Result Car / Co-driver

Entrant / Team
(if not himself)

1953 26 April Mille Miglia, Italy DNF Mario Tadini /
Pietro Cagnana
Mario Tadini
1954 21 August Preis von Bremgarten, Bern, Switzerland
3rd Ivo Badaracco Ivo Badaracco

Registration Mark: NDU 289 (9 April 1953)

Chassis Number: XKC045

Owner: The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust

Inventory Number: 046/J.13

Price when new: £2,327

Price: 302 Weeks Average Wage