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XKD 513, a short nose 3.4-liter version of the D-type without the rear dorsal fin, superbly finished in French blue, was supplied in 1955 to the Delecroix, importer in Paris, and sold via Henri Peignaux, a Jaguar concessionnaire in Lyon, to a friend of him, a manufacturer of industrial diamonds named Jean-Marie Brussin who started racing in the early 1950s as a privateer under pseudonym “Mary”. Henri Peignaux entered the car in the 1955 Le Mans 24-Hour race but failed to qualify. A second attempt two years later was successful and the Jaguar was on the official entry list for the 1957 Le Mans edition. To comply with new Le Mans regulations of the time, a full-width windscreen had been fitted to the car by the Jaguar factory, with a clear plexi tonneau cover on the passenger side, replacing the original wrap-round windscreen. Something that seems to be a particularity (although I’m not a D-type specialist) is that the two smaller rear lights had been recentered on the spare wheel bootlid instead of beeing on the rear fenders as other D-types.

For the Le Mans race,
“Mary” would share the car with Jean Lucas, an experienced driver (Ferrari, Gordini, Cooper, Maserati) who had spent two years as the Ecurie Gordini team manager. As Lucas was also the initiator of the French Ecurie Los Amigos, the car was entered under the Los Amigos banner. Just for interest, he will be in 1962 the co-founder with his friend Gérard Crombac of the French monthly magazine “Sport Auto”, fully dedicated to car racing, still very popular today.

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The 1957 Le Mans edition (June 22-23) was a promising one, with impressive contenders - two Maseratis 450S, four Aston Martins, six Ferraris (among which three 335 incredibly fast) driven by top drivers - and no less than five D-types, including XKD 513, all in hands of private teams. Reason is that at the end of the 1956 season and after two consecutive victories of a D-type at Le mans, Jaguar had announced its intention to withdraw from competition as a works team and tp disband its works team. A few ex-factory D-types were then sold to different private teams which were given the responsability to maintain the presence of D-types on circuits and defend the honour of Jaguar. But Le Mans is an endurance race and progressively the opposition suffered from mechanical problems or crashes and dropped out one by one, so that the D-types took the lead of the race and widened the gap. At the chequered flag, the D-types achieved altogether an outstanding and magnific result, the five cars ending in the six top places ! Difficult to do better ! Behind the two long nose Ecurie Ecosse cars, the venerable “French Jaguar” #17 finished in third position, at the average speed of 177,298 km/h, covering a distance of 4255,155 km, with 10 laps less than the winners Ron Flockart / Ivor Bueb (with a 3.8 liter engine). A really memorable day for Los Amigos ! A convincing demonstration of the reliability of the D-type ! The honour of Jaguar had been marvelously defended, but it will be the last victory of the Leaping Cat in the Le Mans 24-hour marathon (until 1988).

Photo : the car has just taken the chequered flag. “Mary” is pushing while Jean Lucas is seated on the car (beige polo).

Unfortunately, this story has a very sad end. After that more than encouraging success, Henri Peignaux will enter XKD 513 again in the following year Le Mans race. This time, in the hands of “Mary” and the rich Morocco born businessman driver André Guelfi (alias “Dédé la Sardine”) as co-driver. A few changes were made on the car, including a new 3.0-litre engine and the high dorsal tailfin. The car was given the racing number 11.

The 1958 Le Mans edition, held on June 20-21, was marred by torrential weather conditions, with a lot of rain flooding the track and poor visibility, causing an impressive series of accidents. Between 18:30 and 22:00, no less than 12 cars were involved in serious crashes. Several drivers were injured and quite sadly “Mary” was killed when in the 47th lap his Jaguar skidded off the track and crashed into the embankment. “Mary” was thrown out of the cockpit, just beyond the Dunlop bridge.

Epilog (made short) : the wreck was stored in Peignaux’ garage before being sold in 1960 to Carrozzeria Michelotti in Turin who rebuilt and rebodied it as totally different GT two-seater coupe, displayed at the 1963 Geneva motor show. Finally, after various peregrinations, Lynx restored.rebuilt it as a replica D-type using the original chassis and the rest of original components, again painted the French blue as it was at Le Mans. From then, the car has resided in the USA where it has been used regularly in historic races and tours.