Arguably the most important figure in British motoring history, and certainly the one with the most prolonged impact as the leader of his company for more than 40 years was Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons. This year marks the 120th birthday of “Mr Jaguar”, along with a number of other significant milestones including the 70th anniversary of the C-Type and the much-publicised 60th anniversary of the E-Type, often considered the most beautiful car ever built. In honour of these achievements, the Organisers of Auto Royale have announced the second of this year’s exciting headline classes in the British International Concours d’Elegance.
The William Lyons / Jaguar XK class will celebrate the great and the good of Jaguar’s design, technical and competitive achievements with a focus on the XK engine, a motor that remarkably powered the marque for more than 40 years, and surely one of the most successful engines of all time. Designed by chief engineer, William Heynes, the XK engine debuted at the 1948 London Motor Show, powering the new Lyons-designed XK120. Named for its top speed of 120 mph, it was the fastest production car of the time, and was just the beginning of one of Britain’s greatest motorsports legacies.
A dozen legendary XK-engined Jaguars will grace the lawns at Waddesdon Manor in July, every car a standout, including a number which return to our shores after many years away. Heading up the competition cars are the XK120 Competition (LXF 731) raced successfully by Duncan Hamilton throughout 1951, and the 1951 Works Le Mans entry (AEN 546), the XK120’s highest-placed Le Mans entry, achieving 11th overall. The competition cars continue with the 1952 Mille Miglia C-Type (XKC 005), in which Stirling Moss later drove to victory at Reims, D-Type OKV1, famously driven to second at Le Mans by Hamilton and Rolt in 1954, and the curious 1953 XK120 “Hansgen Special”, designed and built by American racer, Walt Hansgen, to take on the C-Types.
Not to be outdone, the simple beauty of Jaguar’s road cars will also be showcased, in a display that includes the very first E-Type unveiled to the media and public at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, returning to Britain for the first time in 60 years. Accompanying what is arguably the most important E-Type in the world are a pair of sensational, Italian- coachbuilt XKs – the XK120 Pininfarina and XK150 Bertone, along with world speed record holder Donald Campbell’s personal XK150 Coupe in Bluebird blue. Rounding out the class are the rare and very-desirable XKSS and Sir William’s own, fastidiously-restored Mark X with unique CEO extras.
“Twelve months ago I don’t think we ever could have anticipated that such a display of important Jaguars might grace our concours, but thanks to a sensational bunch of entrants, here they are, from some of the most private collections, for everyone to enjoy”, said Chief Curator, Jarrah Venables. “Some very careful curation has gone into this group to ensure we get exactly the right cars to honour the multiple anniversaries, so I will be interested to see the reaction from visitors when they see it”.
Joining the event on Saturday are 14 specially-curated cars from the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club as part of the annual Club Invitational. Held over three days, the Club Invitational enables one club to show the pride of its fleet each day, whilst enjoying its own Club House hospitality on the Parterre Lawns of Waddesdon Manor.
Event Director, Paul Mathers, couldn’t be more pleased with the line-up in what is Auto Royale’s inaugural year. “As a Jaguar owner, it has long been a dream of mine to bring together a showstopping display of genuinely important Jaguars, and it really is a privilege to do so for the 120th birthday of Sir William Lyons.” said Mathers. “I don’t think the world has seen such an impressive and diverse showcase of the marque since the famous XKSS display at Pebble Beach a decade ago. To me, this alone is worth the price of a ticket”.
The inaugural Auto Royale will take place at Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th July 2021. More than 100 rare and collectable cars will grace the lawns of the former Rothschild pile, complemented by a motoring expo with more than 70 exhibitors, award-winning street food concessions, three bars, live entertainment and VIP hospitality.