RM sell America's first C-Type in New York sale

America’s first Jaguar C-Type went under the hammer at RM Sothebys ICONS New York sale on December 6th, with the gavel falling at a staggering USD$5,285,000, or £3,941,000.

Chassis number XKC-007, only the 7th of 53 C-Type’s built, was delivered new to the famous West Coast Jaguar distributor Charles Hornburg in early August, 1952. It then found itself at the heart of the burgeoning California sports car racing scene, and competed extensively in club races around the country.

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To put its profile into perspective, a C-Type in 1952 would have had a similar impact as a C-X75 today, which explains why Hornburg retained it for competition and promotional purposes. Its first race was the Sheldon Cup at Elkhart Lake with the legendary Phil Hill behind the wheel. Phil actually drove the C-Type across the country from California to Wisconsin, took the first win for a C-Type in the United States, and then turned around and drove it back to LA the following day!

Phil Hill drove XKC 007 a further two times that year, finishing 2nd at Madera Airport in early November, and winning at Torrey Pines in December. The C-Type was then sold to Carlyle Blackwell, the son of a famed silent movie actor, who from 1955 actively campaigned it in club racing all over California, retiring the car two years later. Carlyle raced XKC 007 during the golden age of the Californian sports car scene, and raced it at famous circuits such as Palm Springs, Paramount, Bakersfield, Pomona and Santa Barbara.

In 1957 the C-Type was sold again, and was fitted with a D-Type cylinder head and larger carburettors which helped it clock 157mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. By this point XKC 007 was becoming an old and uncompetitive race car, and it passed through the hands of several enthusiasts who maintained it as part of their collections and enjoyed it sparingly as the C-Type became increasingly collectable. It was restored to concours standard in the late eighties.

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XKC 007 spent most of the nineties as a little-used display piece in various collections, until it was purchased by collector Gary Bartlett. He commissioned noted expert Chris Keith-Lucas to prepare the car for light competition, and Bartlett drove it in the 2010 Mille Miglia Storico event. It was also shown at Amelia Island that year.

XKC 007 continued a life of relaxed luxury, and has spent the past several years in a respected collection. Not only is XKC 007 an important part of Jaguar’s competition heritage, but it's an important part of the whole company's heritage too. XKC 007 took the C-Type’s first North American win, which helped to lay the foundations for the mammoth success that the brand would subsequently have in that market. 

This car is also an important part of California’s strong motorsport heritage. Post-war sports car racing evolved in this part of the world like nowhere else, and it was cars like XKC 007 that set the foundations of a legacy that continues today. 

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