Pendine are privileged to be offering for sale the car that kicked off Walt Hansgen’s racing career – his 1953 Jaguar XK120 ‘Hansgen Special’
After proving his racing prowess in cars loaned from and shared with friends, it was time for Walt to take his racing up a gear. In 1951 he managed to pull together enough money to purchase a Jaguar XK120. However, during the 1951 season, he found that the stock Jaguar was no match to the factory built sports racers he was up against. Walt was convinced the key to his success was in a Jaguar C-Type, but simply couldn’t not afford one. So he decided to design, build and race his own Jaguar to take on everyone, from the wealthy privateer to factory supported race cars. So followed a yearlong project to build what became known as the Hansgen Jaguar.
At the time, Walt and his father owned a body and repair shop, providing him with all the resources needed to build this extraordinary special. The metal craftsman who did the aluminium panel beating was Emil Hoffman who, like so many of the time, learned his craft during WWII in the aviation field. He was an excellent metal man. Much like Jaguar with the C-Type, Walt used a wealth of components from his XK120, hanging them from a tubular chrome-moly chassis, wrapped in a hand formed aluminium body. The engine was built to a similar specification and power rating was that of a C-Type. All said and done, the weight saving over his standard XK120 was almost 300kg.
As the 1953 season began Walt soon realised that he had built a racer capable of running with the best, as did the other competitors. It proved exceptionally successful and he had a succession of top finishes in that first season:
April 2 Thompson 2nd
May Cumberland 1st
May 18 Bridgehampton Cup Race stopped with Walt in 5th
July 19 Cumberland 1st
Aug 29 Floyd Bennett Cup 2nd
Sept 6 Thompson Raceway 2nd (to Masten Gregory’s C Type)
Sept 19 Watkins Glen Grand Prix 1st place overall
Sept. Turner Air Force Base 3rd Albany, Georgia
Oct. 11 Thompson dnf
Oct. 25 Sowega Intl. Races 6th
Oct 25 Sowega Intl. Races 10th in 250 mile race
Walt, with the Hansgen Jaguar, had well and truly made his mark, and his career was launched. For the 1954 season he found himself in Maston Gregory’s former Jaguar C-type and sold the Hansgen Jaguar to a friend, Paul Timmins, to whom he had previously loaned the car. Paul continued to campaign it with the same success as Walt had:
May 16 Cumberland Sports car Race 2nd
May 30 Thompson, SCCA New England Regional Road races 2nd
May 30 Thompson (2nd race) SCCA New England Regional Road races 2nd
June 13 Natl. Westover unknown
Sept 5 Thompson SCCA National 3rd
Sept 18 Watkins Glen, 7th annual Sports car Grand Prix 2nd
Oct 10 Thompson, SCCA National dnf
Through the remainder of the 1950s. In June 1966 the car was bought by Ed Jurist of Nyack, NY, who shortly after sold the car to J.D. Iglehart. Iglehart completed in many events, as well as several hill climbs, including the Mt. Equinox Hillclimb in 1979. Also during his ownership the Hansgen Jaguar spent some time on display in the Watkins Glen museum.
In 1983 the Hansgen Jaguar was sold to enthusiast and historic racer Bob Milstein, who was to become a long term custodian. In 1988 Milstein set about a careful restoration preserving the originality of the car and ensuring it was just as Walt had built it, whilst also upgrading it to contemporary race specification.
A number of original components, such as the engine, transmission, Alfin brake drums
and the Boranni wheels were put to one side for safe keeping. The car was crowned the Jaguar Club of North America National Concourse Champion in 1989.
However, race cars belong on racetracks and after this accolade Bob Milstein proved Walt Hansgen still had the winning formula and continued to race the car throughout the 1990s and 2000s, logging an incredible 150+ races with many top 3 finishes and fastest times of the day.
After 31 years of love and care in the ownership of Milstein, the car was sold to Terry and Darlene Larson, world renown Jaguar restorers and collectors. Now offered publicly for sale for the first time in over 40 years this special car is an important piece of both American sportscar and Jaguar racing history. Today, the Hansgen Jaguar represents a competitive and unique entry in contemporary historic racing and events worldwide, and is accompanied by a large file of documentation, records, magazine articles and log book.