XK120 No. 21

XK120 No. 21

Picture 5 of 5

2011 was a year for sorting out Number 21, which has been submitted for the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio in 2012.

In 1951, Jaguar launched a major attack on Le Mans with three of the new C types. Moss and Fairman set fastest time but the race was wet and wild and twenty four hours later, only the C type of Walker and Whitehead, Number 20, was left. Number 20, however, finished first, beginning the Jaguar legend.

The only other Jaguar to finish was Number 21, an XK120 driven by Bob Lawrie and Ivan Waller, averaging an astonishing 132.8kmh, a speed which would have won the race in 1949.

Lawrie and Waller were the last of the successful gentlemen amateurs, better known as serious mountain climbers.

This was still the day when you could buy an XK120, drive it to the track, race it, win and drive it home.

The start photos show the C types screaming into the distance, followed by assorted French and Italian marques and … Number 21, competitive from the start.

Number 21 is instantly recognizable by the three holes in the bonnet.

The drivers were amateurs, although they were smart enough to get Lyons to sell them a works car with a C type engine.

Being gentlemen mountaineers, they had no qualms about improving the product. The holes enable the mechanics to check vital fluids without opening the hood, which was a pain and because it was so long, it could easily be damaged.

’53 was a very wet Le Mans so the holes likely did save time and mechanic discomfort.

The old girl was the second Jag home, after the winning C type. I don’t know if Le Mans had classes in ’53 although with a C type engine, she was probably in the unlimited class anyway.