Excitement is presently building for the Le Mans 24 Hours, although there will still be only five cars in the top class as the Hypercar era gets off to a low-key start.
Things could hardly have been more different back in 1953: the inaugural 1953 World Sportscar Championship had attracted many manufacturers, so an unprecedented 56 of the 69 cars entered for the French epic were works-run.
Representing Britain were Allard, Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, Bristol, Frazer Nash and of course Jaguar, whose C-Type had triumphed on its debut in 1951. It had been beaten by Mercedes-Benz in 1952, but the German firm wasn’t defending its title, instead focusing its resources on its entry into Formula 1.
Germany’s hopes were thus faint, laying with only Borgward and Porsche. Rather, the Italians were the Brits’ main rivals, entries coming from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Lancia, along with the American Cunningham.
The French were seen as dark horses, thanks to Gordini and more so Talbot-Lago, which had created an all-new spyder for the event.
As it happened, Jaguar marked the start of the Elizabethan era in style, with C-Types finishing the race first, second and fourth.