The First Time Jaguar Won LeMans

People buy cars that win big races. This fact has played a major part in the automotive business from, well, the beginning of automobiles themselves. And winning the world famous “Vinqt-quatre Heures du Mans” was especially important because it was not simply winning a big race -it was winning The Race. It was tantamount to achieving super star status and winning it justified everything that went into the effort.  And, it also sold a lot of cars for the company producing the winning car. Winning at Lemans was big.

1951 Lemans

Accordingly, in 1950, Jaguar set its eyes on LeMans. Of course, the usual suspects, Aston Martin, Cunningham, Ferrari, Nash-Healey, Talbot and many others were building race cars to compete. Jaguar, who had never won Le Mans, had their work cut out for them. The vehicle they chose to compete was the brand new Jaguar C-Type sports car. According to our source at Warren Henry Automotive, a Miami-based Jaguar dealer, the engine in the C-Type car was a high performance version of Jaguar’s  inline-six, dual-cam motor engine, an engine that was supplied in their standard factory cars.

Stirling Moss

Winning races requires great drivers.  For this task Jaguar called upon Stirling Moss, who was one of the finest racecar drivers in the world. Two less experienced drivers, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead rounded out the race staff.  It paid off with both men and machine. Sterling Moss’s Jaguar came from a mid-field start to take the lead on the third lap and eventually broke the lap record by six seconds at 105.2 mph. The two other C-types in the race were doing well also and by the fifth hour, Jaguar was in positions one, two and three.

A first and second finish

Unfortunately some mechanical problems took Moss’s car out of the race but Walker and Whitehead’s cars were the first and second to cross the finish line at an average speed of 93.40 mph.  It was Jaguar’ first win at Lemans and set the stage for an incredible lineup of Jaguar sports cars for decades to come. 

About Lee

view all posts

Travel lover. Internet guru. Friendly troublemaker. Certified pop culture buff.