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Period Jaguar C-type images

The C-type Replica Scandal – An Update

By Philip Porter

with additional text by Paul Skilleter

As I have not written about this matter for many months, and I know there is a great deal of interest in the classic car world, I thought an update and further statements might be helpful.

To remind, and explain briefly to those who are new to the subject, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), having supported and even assisted companies and individuals for four decades to build replicas of Jaguar sports racers, such as the C-type and D-type, now object to this and decided to establish this in law by taking the Magnussons – a retired Swedish couple who have been lifetime Jaguar enthusiasts – to court in their country.

Giving incorrect answers in court and with JLR’s paid ‘expert’ witness asserting the C-type was a unique design, JLR won the case, with the result that the court ordered the Magnussons to destroy the C-type replica they had built and pay about £440,000 towards JLR’s costs. The Magnussons are appealing and that appeal is set to be heard in January next year.

Enthusiasts worldwide are appalled at JLR’s behaviour and I have yet to hear one word spoken in support of their actions which are considered, almost unanimously, to be ‘an own goal’.

It might be considered that mine is a lone voice in print on this subject. Nothing could be further from the truth. A number of articles have appeared in publications around the world written by various journalists who have a knowledge of the subject. One in particular stands out: Paul Skilleter has been writing Jaguar books even longer than me. He is, of course, acknowledged as one of the leading Jaguar historians in the world. At the end of this article you will find a statement from Paul himself on the subject. We are in total agreement on these matters.

I am told JLR has now invoked copyright protection in the UK for the C-type, referring to the judgement in Sweden. From this case we have learned that, according to the UK legislation, it is necessary for JLR to prove protection in Sweden to proceed in the UK. However, to succeed in the UK, JLR also must prove that the C-type is an Artistic Work/Work of Artistic Craftsmanship. From this point of view we have, for the benefit of the historic car industry, investigated the written proceedings documentation of the Swedish litigation. We are especially interested in the evidence of originality. I am surprised by what I have read and feel I have a responsibility in relation to the historic car industry in the UK where most of the C-type replicas are produced.

As I have written before, because JLR are claiming IP in all Jaguar designs, and have been sending ‘cease and desist’ communications to artists portraying Jaguar products, I wondered, as publishers, whether we would still be able to reproduce photographs of Jaguars in our books. As a test I asked if they would object to us selling prints of 9600 HP, my E-type. I had no intention of actually selling such prints but this was, as I say, merely a test to better understand the situation. They eventually replied that I would need permission and would need to furnish the Legal Team with various information such as price, quantity, size, how they would be marketed, etc. I responded saying this was extraordinary and did it mean that no-one could sell photos of their own car. They did not reply.

To be blunt, I am probably the world's leading authority on Malcolm Sayer. I justify that assertion by stating that I have researched his life over the last 20/30 years and have interviewed his daughters and many former contemporary colleagues. His family have shared their archive exclusively with me and I have written extensively about Sayer and Jaguar sports cars and sports racing cars in several of my books. I also interviewed, a number of times, FRW ‘Lofty’ England who was one of the prime movers in the decision to build the C-type, as well as being Jaguar’s race Team Manager. In the last c. 38 years, I have written about 35 motoring books of which at least a dozen are on Jaguars.

It has been claimed by JLR’s expert witness that the C-type body design was a completely new concept. It has also been stated that Sayer brought his artistic talents to bear on the car’s shape and thus the C-type is a work of art. Both statements are totally incorrect and indicate a lack of knowledge. In my research into historic racing Jaguars and Sayer, I have never come across any material or evidence of aims or instructions about any styling involvement when these racing cars were developed, other than that the C-type design should show some resemblance to the XK 120 road cars to indicate a lineal association.

In the vast majority of cases, it is not possible in the history of racing car development to attribute a design ‘first’ or the commencement of a functional design trend to one motor car or one leading engineer. Racing car engineers do not work in isolation and are influenced by fellow engineers around the world. It is the case today and always has been the case.

Motor racing being a competitive sport as to speed and endurance, often with vast commercial value, every engineering team of course tries to create a more effective design than their rivals.

Taking things back to basics, the racing car consists of many elements, most notably the engine, chassis, suspension, braking system and body design. Each plays a collective role. The body’s role is to clothe the mechanical components, in a manner that is within the ruling regulations, to accommodate a driver and, above all, be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. I am no aerodynamicist, but the basics are mere common sense.

The more efficient a body shape is, the faster the car will be. A body of superior aerodynamic design can compensate for a less powerful engine. The Le Mans race circuit is 14 kilometres in length with the Mulsanne Straight of six kilometres being a dominant part. Competing cars spend much of each lap at maximum speed. Therefore aerodynamic efficiency was considerably more important for such a circuit than for other race tracks that were dominated by slower, twisty sections of track.

Having studied the evolution of sports car and sports racing car design in some detail, one can see an engineering design trend developing for race cars before the Second World War. The earlier norm in sports car design was to have separate wings (or fenders as they are known in the USA) covering the wheels. The definition of a sports racing car, as opposed to a pure formula racing car, has always been that the wheels are covered. They are also two-seaters.

Gradually the rear wings and later the front wings were incorporated and integrated into the main fuselage, the main bodywork which covered the mechanical components. With a smoother, more slippery shape that penetrated the air better and caused less drag (that is, disturbed the air less as the car proceeded), a car would have a higher maximum speed.

This was realised as early as the ’20s (for example, the Type 32 Bugatti of 1923 and Land Speed Record cars) and certainly in the ’30s when various designers and manufacturers began to put such theories into practice. No doubt influenced by their own major race at Le Mans, the French led the way with such companies as Bugatti, Delahaye and Peugeot, but Italian manufacturers Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Fiat and Farina, and German BMW and Veritas also followed this trend in the late ’30s and the ’40s. British Allard and Aston Martin also illustrated these influences in the late ’40s.

All these examples of a style that is claimed erroneously to have been originated by Sayer are best proven by looking at illustrations of the C-type’s many predecessors.

The C-type followed this increasing trend and was basically a smoothed-out version of the Jaguar XK 120. Indeed the internal factory name was always XK 120C (the ‘C’ denoting competition) and it became unofficially known as the C-type.

There is one statement that cannot be argued with – the C-type was designed for one thing, and one thing alone: to win Le Mans. Aerodynamic efficiency was thus paramount.

In my first Jaguar book, published in the mid-1980s, I had a chapter comparing various Jaguar designs with those of Bugatti. (Page 184 from the book reproduced below.) I illustrated then, more than 35 years ago, that the C-type was basically a copy of the 1936 Bugatti Type 57G which won the Le Mans race in 1937 and 1939, proving the effectiveness of this body design which, having been so successful, was very much in the public domain..

Bugatti 57G side view



Image 1. This T57 45 Bugatti ‘tank’ car appeared for practice at Le Mans in 1937 but was not raced.

Image 2. The better known and successful ‘tank’ T57 Bugattis showed an early exercise in streamlining.

Image 3. That the later C-Type Jaguar should be developed with the aid of wind-tunnel testing says a lot for the earlier Bugatti design.

Image 4. The Bugatti Type 57G side view

The profile of the C-type front body design in plan view (that is, from above) has concave elements, which cars had pre-war. Post-war the plan profiles of many sports racing cars, pioneered by the Italians and adopted by Sayer for his later D-type design, were entirely convex for better, more effective penetration of the air and thus greater aerodynamic efficiency. The front vertical air intake or grille was also dropped by the Italians for a horizontally-oriented, ellipse-shaped intake, which became the norm in racing cars to follow – see illustrations, again noting the Bugatti Type 57G at the beginning of the timeline..

Sports race cars front body designs

View the above image as a pdf

It is completely wrong to state that the faired-in headlamps on the C-type are a unique feature. Other designs had already employed this feature, as shown by the illustrations.

Hence the form of the C-type bodywork was merely in line with earlier trends before 1951.

To say that the C-type was a work of art is also extremely misleading. It was, as stated, first and foremost a racing car designed to win Le Mans and gain enormous publicity for the young Jaguar company brand. Sayer was instructed that his more aerodynamic design should, ideally, have a family resemblance, but it is merely a happy coincidence that the car is, for many people today, very handsome, an expression never used until the 1970s when people started to appreciate and collect classic cars.

Sayer was employed and trained in the aircraft industry before joining Jaguar. He learned about aerodynamics from aircraft design and aircraft are obviously designed to be as efficient as possible, not to look pretty, especially military aircraft which were built by the company for which Sayer worked.

Jaguar Quarterly

View the above image as a pdf

Above: In an article that appeared in Jaguar Quarterly in 1991 ‘Lofty’ England wrote: ‘Meanwhile Bill Heynes had set out his plans for the design of the car and obtained the services of Malcolm Sayer who came from Bristol Aircraft and who would design an aerodynamically shaped body for the new car’.

Sayer used a primitive, by today’s standards, form of Computer Aided Design (CAD), calculating his shapes mathematically. One of his contemporary Jaguar colleagues, who later became Engineering Director (Bob Knight), described it to me as a form of ‘surface smoothing’. This proves Sayer's principal aim was aerodynamic efficiency, not style.

Indeed, in the book Jaguar Design – A Story of Style, which we published in 2015, the author, JLR’s very own expert witness, states on page 133, ‘Sayer worked closely with Bob Knight to develop the new tubular chassis and the lightweight aluminium body shell, intended above all to reduce wind resistance through having a smaller frontal area’. On the same book’s cover, JLR’s expert witness wrote, ‘Malcolm Sayer was an aerodynamicist brought in to create a competition version of the XK 120.’

It was a classic case of ‘form follows function’, in the sense that the XK 120 body design was refined to achieve the aerodynamic requirements to gain extra speed, which it did and won Le Mans. The C-type was not used in the company's marketing for styling purposes to market the production sports car, e.g. the XK 120. At that time Jaguar Cars Ltd competed and publicised the brand by making new race cars such as the D-type.

It should also be stated that Abbey Panels, a specialist Coventry body-building company, had a major hand in the creation of the C-type, as evidenced by their contemporary adverts, and thus were an integral part of the process. The founder, Ted Loades, and William Lyons enjoyed a close and long-term business relationship and indeed I was told that the panel beaters based at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory were actually employed by Abbey Panels, as a way of lessening the impact of the trade unions within Jaguar. So, it can be stated the C-type body was jointly created by Jaguar and Abbey Panels.

Abbey Panels XK120C
Abbey Panels D-type

A number of incorrect answers were given in court by Amanda Beaton, who heads up JLR’s inhouse legal team. For example, she stated that Jaguar only sold production cars and never sold racing cars. Incorrect. As I have pointed out, the aim of the C-type was purely success in racing. Approximately 40 extra examples were built and sold to be raced in various parts of the world, particularly the USA, Jaguar’s most important market, and to fulfil the requirements of the motor sport regulations for a minimum of 50 to be manufactured. With just 53 examples built, including the cars raced by the works, clearly they were not on general sale to the public.


Above: Revealing excerpt from the Jaguar Classic Driving Experiences official brochure: ‘Following the participation of the XK120 at Le Mans in 1950, Jaguar combined the drivetrain with a new aerodynamic shape to create the XK120C (otherwise known as the C-type), the first Jaguar designed solely with racing in mind.’

In my opinion, statements made to the court are plain untruthful and a disgrace as they have misled the court.

JLR has effectively consented to the production of replicas, proven by the following points that cannot be challenged:

In the approximately 40 years that replicas of C-types, D-types, E-types, XKSSs, XJ13s, SS Jaguar 100s and XK 120s have been manufactured by a wide variety of companies around the world, JLR has never, until recently, objected to their manufacture.

Norman Dewis Edition

Above: Jaguar’s legendary test driver, Norman Dewis, happy to endorse what were claimed to be ‘sanctioned’ replica D-types produced by US outfit Fine Sports Cars.

Below: 1986 Triple C Challenger – Fibreglass E-type replicas produced with Jaguar’s full knowledge.

Triple C Challenger E-type

In almost 50 years as a Jaguar historian and the author of 15+ Jaguar books, for which I interviewed many of the main people involved in the Jaguar story in the ’50s and ’60s, I have never ever heard of Jaguar objecting to replicas of their cars being built or sold commercially. Until the correspondence leading up to this court action, there have never ever been any statements from Jaguar about copyright.

Jaguar company executives have provided various firms, such as Lynx, with copies of original factory drawings. The founder of Lynx, Guy Black, has made a very clear statement to that effect, as quoted in a previous Porter Press blog article.

JLR has purchased and used replicas in their business in various ways, and unethically implied they were original cars not replicas.

JLR has used C-type and D-type replicas for their Driving Experience venture (I know because I was at the media launch and drove the cars) which they marketed to the public.

Driving Experiences
C-type Driving Experiences

Above: C-type replica as featured in the Driving Experiences launch publicity material.

JLR has used replicas, again leading people to assume they were genuine cars, for media and marketing events when launching new Jaguar models around the world. Photographic evidence exists.

Jaguar XJS

Senior Jaguar personnel have been photographed driving replicas and a number own or race replicas or are building their own replicas.

Lofty Proteus C-type replica

Above: ‘Lofty’ England driving a Proteus C-type replica

Everyone in the UK knows that JLR has objected in more recent times simply because they now, belatedly, have realised there is a market for Jaguar replicas and they, and they alone, should make commercial gain from manufacturing their own replicas.

To conclude: if JLR starts a similar action in the UK to that they have pursued in Sweden, I am prepared to contribute with information from my knowledge and experience.

Paul Skilleter writes:

JLR are challenging the use of the C-type shape because they contend it is a unique work of art. While I have no knowledge of the law in this area, what I can say is that the C-type shape was far from being wholly original, showing as it does a remarkable similarity to the ‘tank’ Bugattis of the 1930s – a fact I have pointed out in various magazine articles over the years (as indeed have others). Just as the XK 120 used general forms previewed by such as the Touring-bodied BMW ‘Mille Miglia’ 328, the C-type shape continued the usual practice of car designers in building on what came before. Lyons and Sayer just did it better than most.

As for being a work of art, many beautifully designed objects can be described colloquially in these terms, but I don't personally believe that Malcolm Sayer had any intention of producing an artwork as such. Guided by William Lyons’ brief for the C-type design to incorporate a family resemblance to the XK 120, he clearly arrived at a mathematically-defined shape which, influenced by some wind-tunnel testing of models, achieved this requirement while also incorporating aerodynamic attributes which were acceptable by the standards of the day. Sayer was an aerodynamicist who was one of the talented engineers behind Jaguar’s first racing car.

View other blog articles by Philip Porter

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Robert van Sluyters van Nimwegen - June 15, 2022

Dear Mr. Porter, Philip,

I fully agree with your stance on the disgraceful and hypocritical attitude that JLR has chosen to asssume, concerning their unjustified claims as to the uniqueness of Jaguar’s C-type design -even designating them as works of art. Ferrari, by the way, regrettably has also been showing a similar tendency for some time. For these overly profit-driven firms today it’s only money that makes the world go round; not genuine enthousiasm and shared pleasure in their own glorious past.

I especially appreciate the thorough and comprehensive homework you’ve done, sourcing relevant car design examples from the past to support your argument.

Ofcourse before the war it was difficult to find faired-in headlamps in any car design, but some came close. Such as, but not referred to in your line-up, various Mille Miglia BMW 328s (the open versions) clad by Carrozzeria Touring of Italy, almost ten years in advance of the BMW Veritas you did quote. The AAC (not: ACC, as you mistakenly called it -it’s Auto Avio Costruzioni: AAC) 815 was also by Touring (with, by the way, its quasi-faired-in headlights coming straight from the 1939 Opel Kapitän), but the fully extended wing (fender) line of these 328s in my view comes closer to that of the C-type -and would therefor be more representative of your argument than the AAC 815.
And as for the Ferrari Monza you quoted: probably Scaglietti’s 2nd series Mondial would also be a more likely candidate for the comparisons you’re making. Not to mention a multitude of Cisitalia, Maserati and many other designs (including the likes of Stanguellini and Bandini) that might also qualify. Noteworthy enough, they’re almost all Italian!

Nevertheless, you’re making a very compelling case, and it can be made stronger even. I’d gladly offer my help in doing so. Please keep up the good work!
For the good cause, the magnificent Magnussons of Sweden should be supported by crowdfunding anyway. That’s already on the way, hopefully?

Kind regards,
Robert van Sluyters van Nimwegen

Peter Crespin - June 15, 2022

The old adage ‘follow the money’ clearly applies here. What other motive could possibly explain a scenario where the decades-old benign support from the highest levels in Jaguar for a replica industry, is suddenly and totally reversed at EXACTLY the time when JLR have set up their own replica-building profit centre?

Leaving aside the incorrect claims of total accuracy and fidelity to the original cars, it is deeply disingenuous that JLR themselves are unavoidably dependent on outside contractors to replicate the large proportion of parts they do not and cannot make themselves. JLR would be totally lost without the many manufacturers of replica engines, transmissions, instruments and running.gear, etc. . Even the much-vaunted bodywork at issue comes, in large measure, from skilled external workforces who provide the replica body panels that JLR staff fettle and assemble for a price enormously higher than replicas as good or better from other builders.

JLR clearly have the right to supply replicas to those who want their version. I hope it will be found that they do not have the right to suddenly close down the other market suppliers who have hitherto been appreciated for keeping the flag of Jaguar’s racing heritage flying for successive generations.

Neil F. Murray - June 15, 2022

Can I just re iterate the comment I made on this site previously. Assuming that the first XK120C that appeared at Le Mans in 1951, which featured the 4 large louvres on each side and a one-piece lifting bonnet, was the manifestation of Mr Sayer’s design (later ‘cleaned up) then I could argue that he ’lifted’ those features from Frank Feeley’s 1949 Aston Martin DB2. It can be shown, as you have above, that the other ‘unique features’ were all manifested in earlier deigns by other automotive designers, such as the Daimler faired in headlights of an earlier time. NFM

Peter Humphreys - June 15, 2022

This extremely interesting and transparently accurate article should make JLR hang their heads in shame . Their bullying and false claims should be exposed to a broader market to bring some decency to this outrage .

Jonathan Andrew McKeggie - June 15, 2022

Having taken part in the Jaguar Classic Driving Experience three times, I have driven the ‘Tool Room Copies.’ of the C-type and D-type. As described in the, pre event, driver’s meeting. They are openly admitting that they are not using genuine cars, but modern replicas of the original cars. Are they prepared to destroy the cars that they have spent money to purchase and used in their own publicity material?
Going ahead with this form of litigation, Jaguar is seriously shooting itself in it’s own foot.

Roger B Phillips - June 15, 2022

In this ‘debate’, it should not be forgotten that race cars evolve; the XK120C (C-Type) was no exception and the (unsuccessful) 1952 team cars bore a striking resemblance (at least, side-on) to the Bugatti 57G (illustrated above), particularly in relation to the tail treatment. It is nonsense to pretend that any car built specifically for racing is first and foremost a ‘work of art’; it is constructed simply in the hope of winning. These days very many road-based cars are used within various racing formulae. In the 1951-3 era racing cars were racing cars – hence the XK120 and the XK120 C, the latter being the Competition derivative, designated by the Factory itself. Every manufacturer all over the world did and does the same – build competition cars (to sell to individual racers and to Teams) in order to develop the breed and promote their brand.

Adrian Knowles - June 15, 2022

The is a terrible example of corporate greed perpetrated by today’s JLR empire where there appears to be little understanding of motoring history or the lineage of great cars once produced by Jaguar. I couldn’t resist booking a place on one of the first Jaguar Driving Experience sessions in 2015 which was all that I hoped it would be – except that I was told an outright lie. It was obligatory to be accompanied by a JLR instructor when driving the C-type and D-type, and although I was not so naive to think I would be let loose in original cars, I decided to check. In both cases I asked the instructor point blank whether the cars were original, and both times I was assured that they were. Clearly not true, but why tell these outright lies? Perhaps this reflects an underlying culture in which sheer profits now appear to be more important than the support and loyalty of enthusiasts.

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