living Legend

Mendig, August 12, 2014

The past lives. And it is fit for the future. This can almost be taken absolutely literally at Jaguar. 60 years after the debut of the D-Type of the special F-Type Project 7 should remember the Le Mans winner of 1950. We could now see both up close. And in the middle Norman Dewis. The now 94-year-old laid back as chief tester over 400,000 km. And those are just the fast sections with over 160 km / h and more. No wonder he has much to tell: But his autobiography " Norman Dewis of Jaguar " is 575 pages thick.

C to D

For the space of course is not enough here, so I limit myself to the most important facts. Already in 1951 and 1953, Jaguar had won with the C-Type at the 24 - hour race in Le Mans. However, given the strong competition from Ferrari and Mercedes had to get a new car. Internally as " XK 120C Mark IV " is configured, the D-Type was built. The first six models had one welded to the aluminum monocoque chassis and also made ​​of aluminum front subframe. For all other models the frame is now made ​​of steel was bolted down for maintenance. Immediately after the completion in May 1954, went on its own axis to Le Mans, where Norman the lap record to smooth five seconds improved.

Triumph and Tragedy

Even today, Norman is of the form of the D-Type enthusiastic: " He is like a beautiful woman All curves are in the right places. ", It slips out of it. He's right, you can see on the tail fin, which is mounted to increase the directional stability for the first time in 1954 in Le Mans. There is only Jaguar Second, only a year later, the winning streak of the brand in Le Mans starts. A fateful race, not only for Norman, who becomes a factory rider by the failure of some pilots. At the Sarthe he is already with the new " Long - Nose" D-Type on the go, its about 19 ​​inches long hood not only anticipates the later E-Type, but also improves the aerodynamics significantly. With incredible 310 km / h, Norman sucked past the Mercedes of Karl Kling, but fails later. The terrible accident of Mercedes driver Levegh with 84 dead he looks out of the box. So falls to the victory of the Jaguar pilots Mike Hawthorn a darker shade, but Norman defends the triumph, finally, the race organizers have not canceled the race.

His qualities plays the D-Type until 1960, in the years 1956 and 1957 Jaguar wins again in Le Mans. The current Le Mans racer from Audi and Co. are likely to Norman probably seem like luxury cars. Unlike them, but anyone could buy a D-Type, which was not exactly a bargain, however: 3,663 pounds cost the street legal version, from today's perspective, about 107,000 euros. But the effort had been worth it, each of the 87 vehicles now generates up to five million euros.

Always nice thread

Where this is not quite right. One version is still worth a lot more, namely the factory prototype with the registration OVC 501 It is this D-Type in front of me. And I shall drive him. Well, he already has a fully synchronized four-speed gearbox and disc brakes. But it is worth at least ten million euro, what my resting heart rate is not necessarily lower. Finally my glasses no longer fits under the mandatory helmet. But with high myopia times just move such a treasure? Better not, so I squeeze myself into the passenger seat. I said seat? Hock hole it hits better. Even the entry requires agility: The 3.91 meter long car is only 79 inches high. Good thing, because I have a door not unlike the driver. So first set the right foot on the pad, then support it with the right arm. The but please only to a certain point, because the outer skin is pretty darn thin. Now the left leg tighten ( not touchieren the body as possible! ) And somehow accommodate the rest of the body. You see, that sounds complicated? The exit is even worse.

Experience of a lifetime

So I sit with her ​​legs pulled up in my hole, as the 3.4 - liter six-cylinder with 253 hp is well tempered. Incredibly loud gives the machine its signs of life as it is to me rather fabulously warm. No wonder, it is just below my back part the exhaust system. Go wild ride with OVC 501, first registration April 1 1954 Soon it becomes clear that this D-Type is at least as fit as his former lord and master Norman. Surprisingly fast curves of the car through the constructed slalom, on the straight line goes from the post. Despite helmet, the wind rages openly from me, at an estimated 120 km / h I must exert myself to keep your head straight. Rarely have I felt grateful about a visor. But finally I realize what Walter Röhrl said: Acceleration is when the tears of emotion run horizontally. Who wants to know: about seven seconds to 100 km / h. Through my skull wafts a hurricane of impressions: Unique unfiltered mechanics from a time when motorsport was still exciting and dangerous! Rational thinking cynic would say it would take no more coffin, finally sitting in there already. After two laps, I 'll got out ( the thin sheet ). Sweaty and with trembling hands.

moderate purism

All the more relaxing likely to be 7, the ride in the new Jaguar F-Type Project. Here I have to be passenger, because the available car is still a prototype rather than production vehicle. Does not matter, because the main optical differences to the normal F - type are already on board. Most striking is the roll bar, the panel drops on the driver's side in hump - shape back. This detail recalls the dorsal fin of the D-Type. What else is there? Some aerodynamic components made ​​of carbon fiber bucket seats inside and a sportier suspension tuning. Given the increased to 575 hp supercharged V8 fits with five liters. Long story short: The hitherto most powerful production Jaguar ( XJ 220 had " only " 542 hp ) not only sounds famously, he is also like a board in the curves. At an acceleration from zero to 100 km / h in 3.9 seconds each headgear except helmets should be held firmly, because the windshield is here eleven inches lower. Although the air at lowered side windows like a hurricane rages through the car, I suddenly warm your heart.

Paul's project

Paul Bridges, who is responsible for the Project 7 engineer, has prepared a few interesting facts. For him, the car is " the pure essence of the F-Type", even faster and tighter binding. The weight fell by 80 kg, in turn, there are 177 percent more downforce. And something makes clear Bridges: The Project 7 is not convertible for daily use. Makes sense, after all, only an emergency cover is provided, which can withstand up to 200 km / h. The number in the name is derived incidentally ago by the current seven Le Mans overall victories from Jaguar. On a completely different range of F-Type Project is to have 7 already set a fragrance brand. He was faster than the F-Type R Coupe on the Nordschleife, says Bridges. To undercutting time: 7:39 minutes. From mid-2015, the first Project 7 are delivered. Only 250 copies includes the small series, 20 of which are planned for Germany. The price will be 150,000 to 170,000 euros. How much a Project 7 in 60 years will be worth? It will be interesting . ( rh )