In April 1953 a third version of the XK120 joined the Open Two-Seater Super Sports and the Fixed Head Coupe. It was a cross between the two and known as the Drophead Coupe, being a more sophisticated open version. Meanwhile Jaguar engineers had been working in conjunction with Dunlop on a completely new type of brake that had, as yet, only been used on aircraft. The new development was the disc brake and was to be Jaguar’s secret weapon upon their return to Le Mans in 1953.The 24 hour race that year was notable for having representatives from most of the leading European motor car manufacturers and most of the top Grand Prix drivers.
Rarely, if ever, had the competition been so intense. With their fade-free brakes the C-types could decelerate at the end of the three and a half mile Mulsanne Straight from speeds of around 150 mph, time after time, with complete confidence and furthermore, they could leave their braking far later than their rivals. The result was a complete walkover, the Jaguars finishing first, second and fourth. The winning car was driven by a couple who typified the amateur drivers of the era. Major Tony Rolt had won the Military Cross for distinguished war service and Duncan Hamilton was a larger than life character to whom it was very much sport for sport’s sake.
Moss and Walker finished second after suffering fuel feed trouble early on. If further proof were needed that Jaguar was now a world force and the XK engine a world beater, then the emphatic triumph of ’53 against one of the strongest fields any race had ever seen provided it.