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1966 Jaguar XJ13 - The Only One

"There’s only one company who recreate the Jaguar XJ13 as it first saw the light of day in 1966 in the world and you’re on their website!"

Built as a potential Le Mans contender, it never competed in any race.  Its development, which started in 1964, inevitably had to take second place to that of the much more important new saloon car which became the XJ6, launched in 1968.  By the time XJ13 was completed, its design had become obsolete against new cars from Ferrari and Ford, never mind the Porsche 917.  For 1966 the Le Mans regulations were changed, and prototype cars were limited to engines of 3 litres.  To run cars with larger engines, manufacturers had to build fifty examples as production cars (later reduced to twenty-five) and the single XJ13 built had a 5 litre V12 engine – meaning it could not enter the race.

This did not stop XJ13 from being one of the most beautiful racing cars of all time, thanks in large part to the talent of aerodynamicist and designer Malcolm Sayer who had previously created the designs for the Jaguar C and D-type racing cars and the E-type production sports car.

Under the direction of Claude Baily, with design by Bill Heynes, Wally Hassan and Derek White on the chassis, its unique 502 BHP, 5 litre, V12 engine was situated mid car to achieve optimal weight distribution.  The engine was mounted just behind the driver and suspended from the monocoque and carried some of the rear suspension loads. The time taken to develop the new positioning may have slowed work down and given the advantage to its competitors. The 5 litre, V12 is quite different to the later SOHC production model which came out in 1970 in the Series 3 E-type.  It had 4 overhead camshafts with 2 valves per cylinder.  Both gear and chain-driven camshaft configurations were tried on the test engines.

Both the cylinder head and engine block were aluminium and, being mid-mounted, a modified 5 speed ZF transaxle gearbox was installed.

In 1971 the Series 3 E-Type was about to be launched with Jaguar's SOHC V12. The publicity team wanted a shot of the XJ13 at speed for the opening sequence of the film launching the V12 E-Type. On 21 January 1971, the XJ13 was taken to MIRA for the filming with Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis at the wheel. The car was driven by Dewis at speed on a damaged tyre, against the instructions of Jaguar director "Lofty" England. The resultant crash heavily damaged and nearly destroyed the car, although Dewis was unharmed. The wreck of the car was put back into storage.

Some years later, Edward Loades spotted the crashed XJ13 in storage at Jaguar and made the offer to 'Lofty' England that his company Abbey Panels should rebuild the car. The car was rebuilt, to a specification similar to the original, using some of the body jigs made for its original construction and at a cost of £1,000 to Jaguar. In Jaguar's own words, "The car that can be seen today is not an exact reproduction of the original." Indeed, the rebuilt car was described (perhaps unkindly) as a "Jaguar-built Replica" by contemporary authors. The rebuilt car made its public debut in July 1973 when 'Lofty' drove it around Silverstone at the British Grand Prix meeting. It is now displayed at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, UK.

The Building The Legend car in this video is powered by the very first prototype "quad-cam" V12 ever to be heard at Jaguar in a body which exactly replicates the 1966 car (unlike Jaguar's one-and-only "original").

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