Not many carmakers have brought form and function together in one automobile as successfully as Jaguar has. It's not without reason that Coventry's legendary E-Type is still considered the world's most beautiful car. Although it was with this car that Jaguar perfected the art of blending sheer physical beauty with the science of aerodynamics, the process had been set in motion a few years earlier with yet another legend, the D-Type.In the summer of 1953, Jaguar won its second Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in three years, shooting its reputation as a maker of high-performance cars sky-high. But not one to sit on his laurels, William Lyons had already got his team to work on a successor. Lyons was single-mindedly focused on making a car that was faster than the C-Type on La Sarthe's Mulsanne straight, knowing that an advantage of a few seconds on this stretch every lap could well be the difference between loss and victory.The immortal D-Type was born in early 1954. The egg-shaped shell of the car penned by Malcolm Sayer, with its curved windscreen and the vertical stabiliser fin on the driver side, was so perfectly streamlined that it's said even technical experts from the Royal Aircraft Establishment couldn't suggest any improvement on its aerodynamics.The whole purpose of the D-Type's very existence was to compete in and win at Le Mans. With C-Types excelling in the previous editions, everyone was expecting the D-Type to have it easy in 1954. But it was anything but a cakewalk, with Ferrari's 4.9-litre monster driven by the Gonzales-Trintignant duo dominating the race, and fuel filter problems plaguing all D-Types. Still, one of them, driven by Mike Hawthorn, managed to finish close behind the winning Fezza.For 1955, Jaguar made the car even lighter and simpler. The front frame was now bolted to the central monocoque, while in the previous model, it was welded on. The monocoque chassis itself was now nickel-steel instead of magnesium alloy. Changes were also made to the engine's cylinder head. It got 20 more horses and the works team's cars got a longer nose for greater speed and a new wraparound windscreen to tackle wind buffeting. But the challenge was even tougher this year, with Ferrari fielding an all-new4.5-litre six-cylinder and Mercedes-Benz making a comeback with its awesome300 SLR, that too driven by two of the world's best drivers ever — Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. Fangio's Merc was two laps ahead of Hawthorne's Jag when the German team withdrew from the race after one of its cars launched into the crowd, killing scores of people. Seeing this as its best opportunity, Jaguar controversially decided to go ahead with the race. With Ferraris pulling out due to mechanical failures there was little competition left, and team Jaguar won its third Le Mans victory, and the first in a D-Type.In the 1956 race, the works team cars crashed out early, but the D-Types fielded by the Eccure Ecosse team won the race. Although Jaguar didn't have its official team for the 1957 race, the Eccure Ecosse team again won the race, making it three consecutive victories at the famed circuit for the car. With new rules in 1958 restricting displacement to 3.0-litres, Jaguar was pretty much out of the competition. But the D-Type's magic lived on, both in the form of race cars driven by privateers as well as in the road-going XKSS guise. And to date, it remains one of the most sought-after cars of all time.