JAGUAR’S MOTORSPORT SUCCESSES during the 1950s have been covered in great detail over the decades, in particular its five victories in the most famous race of them all – the Le Mans 24 Hours. Somewhat less heralded is the fact that such international glory was being backed up around the world by a loyal army of privateer racers in their own XK120s, C-Types and D-Types.
Often rarely heard of beyond their home country - or even their own particular region - they nonetheless did much to promote the Jaguar name on the local and national competition scene.
This was a very different era of competition, when amateur owner-drivers could order Le Mans-winning machinery direct from the manufacturer. To begin with, however, the D-Type was very much a works car. Only five were built during its maiden season in 1954 all for factory use.
Chassis number XKC402 (OKV1) nearly won that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton finishing a close second to the Ferrari of José Froilán González and Maurice Trintignant in terrible weather.
Ken Wharton and Peter Whitehead had more luck next time out when they took XKC404 (OKV3) to victory in the Reims 12 Hours - the first ‘feather in the cap’ for the D-Type in terms of top-level endurance racing.
In 1955, Jaguar built further D-Types for the factory team and the likes of Ecurie Ecosse, and also embarked on a run of ‘production cars’ for private individuals to buy and race.
Of these, the majority went to the USA or the UK, but a tiny handful - three, to be exact made their way to Australia. The first of those was XKD526, a car with a unique history.
Not only is it the only D-Type to have competed with a hardtop, it is also the only one raced new by a female driver.
Remembered by those who knew her as a modest and unassuming character, Doris Geordie Anderson was emphatically not one to brag about her achievements, but they were considerable - especially when you consider â€‹that she took up motor racing when she was already into her 40s and the mother of six grown children. In an article published on February 25, 1956, the Sydney Morning Herald went further and described her as a ‘hot-rod granny’ and ‘Queensland’s most remarkable grandmother’.
Having emigrated to Australia from Scotland when she was only two, Geordie had raced motorcycles as a teenager and later married (John) Cyril Anderson. Together they founded and ran the successful 500 vehicles strong transport business, Anderson Agencies.
It was based at 122 Margaret Street in Brisbane and had branches throughout Australia; from 1946 they were also the Jaguar distributor for Queensland and the Northern Territory, under their Westco banner.
Between 1950 and 1952 Geordie competed in aluminum-bodied XK120 Roadster chassis #15, but it was destroyed in a workshop blaze and replaced with XK120 FHC chassis #15. It was in the latter that Geordie won Australia’s first 24-hour race with Bill Pitt and Charley Swinburne.
Held at the Mount Druitt airfield circuit west of Sydney on January 31 to February 1, 1954, the event attracted Jaguar's 1951 Le Mans winner Peter Whitehead, Tony Gaze, and Alf Barrett in C-Type XKC039. The XK120 outlasted everyone to take the victory.
Pitt and Swinburne were school friends and met the Andersons when Cyril, a former international speedway rider, sold them a Norton engine for their Cooper single-seater.
A year after their success at Mount Druitt, they pooled resources in order to acquire XKD526 - the Andersons, Pitt and Swinburne would each own a one-third share. A letter to Jaguar dated April 15, 1955 stated that; We are very pleased to know that at last a competition Type XKD will shortly be ready for shipment.
Frustratingly, however, it was not until October 1955 that the D-Type was despatched from the factory, slowly making its way to Brisbane via Liverpool. Shortly after it arrived, Swinburne, trained as an accountant, fell ill and sold his share to the others.
It was Geordie who was first to get behind the wheel in a competitive setting. She clocked 120 mph for a flying quarter-mile at Strathpine airfield on January 30, 1956, then 135.2 mph over the same distance at Leyburn three weeks later. After she drove it twice more - another outing at Strathpine, plus one at Lowood - Bill Pitt took over.
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