Car profiles

Continuation: a Jaguar C-Type and the debate about "real" cars

by Lyn Woodward
31 October 2023 4 min read

‘Twas Hamlet who inquired most eloquently about being or not being, but car collectors and enthusiasts alike have their own internal debate, one that has been going on for decades. What is real? What isn’t? Should copies (aka fakes, replicas, reproductions, clones, tributes, etc.) even exist? Is a chassis tag enough to qualify a significant car as genuine? What if it’s a rebuilt wreck? What if it’s a copy so exact and accurate that no one can tell it isn’t an in-period factory original?

I have long had a firm opinion on this whole real vs. replica issue: if it’s not the real deal, then why bother? However, I recently got some seat time in a C-Type Continuation from Jaguar Classic, and now I’m having an existential crisis. 


Continuation cars are similar to replicas, albeit with a few key differences. Built by the same companies who made the originals and to identical or near-identical specifications, continuation cars are in a material sense the real deal, just assembled a few decades late. Carmakers like Aston Martin and Bentley have seen values of some of their greatest classics soar, and they understandably seized on the opportunity to meet market demand with their own fresh products. Jaguar Classic got into the continuation game in 2016, recreating the Lightweight E-Type. It quickly moved to the XKSS road car and then the D-Type race car that took Le Mans by storm in the mid-1950s.


The latest to join this prowl of new-old Jags is the C-Type Continuation, one of which was offered to me for the Modena Cento Ore, a 900-kilometer gentleman/gentlewoman racers’ luxury road and track rally through some of the more recognizable bits of northern Italy. Built in 2021, this one was crafted to 1953 specifications. That was the year the C-Type took first, second, fourth, and ninth at Le Mans thanks to a banger of an engine, smooth aerodynamics, and novel disc brakes. Technically this car is still quite new, but driving it through Tuscany easily passed for the best kind of time travel. 

The raucous Weber-fed XK engine and non-synchro four-speed gearbox presented the same mechanical engagement felt by Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton when they whizzed down the Mulsanne Straight 70 years ago. The hand-built 3.4-liter straight six—identical to those that left the factory in ’53—never needed high revs thanks to its abundant torque, but it sure felt eager, like it wanted to you to give it the beans and flirt with the redline. The expansive hood out front, spartan interior with analog gauges, and sounds and smells blasting past completed the experience. The only thing that didn’t feel “classic” about this English race car was the lack of stress over whether it would start. At no point did I say to myself “shame it’s not real,” and I doubt anybody watching it roar through the Umbrian countryside did, either.

Which brings me back to the real vs. not-real dilemma. Well-done C-type replicas from companies like Lynx or Proteus have offered a much more affordable alternative to the originals for decades. The delicious C-Type Continuation from Jaguar Classic, on the other hand, costs about £1.5M ($1.82M). It’s important to remember, however, that Jaguar only screwed together 53 original C-Types from 1951-53. The last one to sell at auction brought $5.285M and most of the ones that still exist live on quietly in large collections. Real C-Types, especially ones with serious race history, are so valuable that it’s hard to justify taking them out and driving them as originally intended. As a result, an exact copy or a very close one—a car that gives the same experience without the risk—starts to make a lot more sense.

This dilemma is hardly unique to Jaguars, nor is it new. Chuck Beck made his first Porsche 550 Spyder copies over 40 years ago. Various contemporary builders have paid tribute to the late 1960s Yenko Camaro, and folks from Pur Sang in Argentina build a Bugatti Type 35 replica, which, but for six minor details that are different from the 1920 originals, might fool even the keenest of eyes. There are likely more replica Porsche 356 Speedsters on the road than real ones, and certainly more Shelby Cobra replicas than the real thing.

“If we relied on only original owners, we would have three members,” says Norman Jesch, president of the Southern California Cobra Club. “And the guys who really care, those guys with the early cars who used to take issue? I beg your pardon, but they’ve passed away.” 


“Any potential controversy comes from owners who for various reasons consider their cars original or try to pass them off as such. But now, with modern technology, there isn’t too much of that. It’s easy enough to confirm with a CSX number if someone’s Cobra is real,” according to Jesch.

In speaking with Jesch and others about this topic, I thought I’d find plenty of people who are dead set against non-authentic cars. In fact, it was nearly impossible, as replicas and continuations appear to have found their place in the hobby. 

“Even the Bugatti guys who aren’t in love with Pur Sang replicas don’t have much of an argument. No one’s going to put one of them up for auction, call it real, and devalue the originals,” says Logan Calkins, Director of Events at Hagerty.

Replicas, reproductions, kits, and tributes (Hagerty will insure most of them) keep the original marques, some of which are long gone, out there and relevant. Continuations only further tie in the heritage. They’re touchpoints for young enthusiasts just getting into classic cars and for weekend racers channeling their inner Stirling Moss.

Would I prefer the real thing? Who wouldn’t? But if these cars stir the same emotions on the road and help keep the love of classic cars alive, then where’s the rub? Taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the 1950s via a car with a twenty-first century build date, I’m reminded that the true joy is in what a car delivers more so than in what it is.



  • bob johnson says:

    former owner csx2381 289 ,and would thoroughly enjoy a aluminunm replica of the same (including mechanics of course) at a realistic price.The fiberglass jobs with un authentic carriages are not replicas in ant true sense of the word.But then again I actually drove my 289 as an everyday enjoyable (and only) transportation vehicle.Also had a 1954 120 jag, just as much fun to drive.

  • Bill says:

    As a longtime Jag owner and enthusiast, I a a little confused by the recent continuation Jags. As “new” cars I understand that because they do not meet current standards, they may not be legal for road use, except possibly with manufacturer registration. Add to this the steep price premium, and these cars are likely not going to become drivers. Jaguar has just come off an acrimonious copyright lawsuit where they tried to seize a private owner’s replica C-type which had been built with the cooperation of the pre-Tata Jaguar administration. So, these few continuation cars are being sold for silly money, and all the aficionados know they are not the genuine article and built for LBDT (look but don’t touch) only. Tata management just don’t seem to relate to the soul of the marque at all.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    As long as people know what they are getting into I don’t see a problem with continuation cars. I personally wish manufacturers could bring back some older cars but with slight modernization at a reasonable price.

    • Paul Ipolito says:

      They did with the Camaro, Mustang and Challenger. They just forgot about the “reasonable” pricing part.

  • Craig Smith says:

    What is not to like except the price? To those privileged enough to have driven these original machines, these cars offer the experience without risking the original. The author savored the driving sensations, I’m sure all enthusiast drivers would also.

  • elliott Smith says:

    Continuation cars, replicas, or kit cars allow those of us who are not wealthy to enjoy beautiful cars that often perform very well. Craig Smith and Norman Jesch understand that these cars are owned and driven by car enthusiasts who also appreciate the originals from which they are copied. I have owned a Dino replica for 30+ years which was even featured in a music video for a top 40 rock song. I’m happy to drive it, (just not in winter).

  • Casey Duncan says:

    The C-type is one of my all time favorite cars, but the price of these is frankly absurd. Jaguar can do as they please of course but this comes off as nothing but an exercise in greed. The market may prove me wrong, but I can’t imagine any buyers of these in their right mind.

  • paul s murray says:

    Since we’re talking Jaguar. I’d love an XJ-13 but with a grand total of one being produced , a Tempero replica would suit me just fine.

  • paul s murray says:

    That wouldn’t suck but. If I had that kind of money to burn I’d rather it be produced in it’s country of origin, ‘across the pond’ , and have an excuse to fly over. So an Eagle XJ -13 Speedster and,since I’ve placed my order anyway, lets throw in one of their lightweight GT E-types as a ‘ continuation ‘car .

  • Nick says:

    When it comes to classic Jaguars – in particular the XK120 and XK140 special equipment roadsters – what constitutes a “replica”? These cars feature a copper dash plaque attesting in block letters that they are REPLICAs of the car that attained 132.6 mph and later 141.51 mph at Jabbeke, Belgium. I have even been accused of misrepresenting my 1954 XK120SE roadster as a genuine Jaguar at a show and shine, because the dash plaque clearly says it is “just a replica”. But there’s no doubt it’s the real thing.

    We in the Jaguar enthusiast group sometimes get hung up on details, “how it left the factory”, down to the correct head markings on bolts and, of course, the “matching numbers” paradigm. Myself, I’d give my eye teeth for a 21st century C-type, “replica” or “continuation car”. It’s all semantics to me.

  • Woodrow says:

    While I am a huge fan of replicas – since they’re the only way I’d ever be able to afford a 904 GTS or B-16 Chevron – I have to agree with Mr Duncan that this is nothing more than a money grab. I’d have a lot more respect for Jaguar if they sold these at the C-Type’s inflation-adjusted “Continuation MSRP” of US$75,000.
    Put another way, if you truly wanted the best possible replica of a C-Type, I’d love to see what Crosthwaite and Gardiner would charge; my guess is it would be somewhat less than US$1.8MM.

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