It Lives!

At around 4pm on Wednesday 24th September, Jaguar’s second quad-cam V12 burst into life after a slumber of almost 50 years.

After the best part of a day spent gradually coaxing the engine into life the engine’s bark finally shattered the silence – accompanied by the odd flame! Our cats and neighbours may not have been too impressed 😉 The incredible sound this unsilenced engine made as well as the broad smiles all round make this something that will live with me.

I had waited years for this moment. To me, this represented the first major milestone in the long journey towards achieving my dream of seeing my recreated XJ13 on track – perhaps to finally do battle with the mighty Ford GT40 and the sublime Ferraris amongst others.

We only ran the engine for a few minutes. Just long enough to verify all was well and as a prelude to the engine’s first “public startup” scheduled for the 30th October 2014. My aim is to allow as many people as possible to share in this special moment. Readers of this blog are cordially invited to attend this event although a RSVP would be appreciated as I need to ensure adequate supplies of food and fizzy drinks are on hand! Your formal invitation is shown below.

Please respond to me using the <a title="Make Contact" href=""https://buildingthelegend.co.uk/contact/ link if you wish to attend and I will send details of venue/timing etc.

You are invited to come and share the dream!

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Background

In July of 1964, Jaguar began assembly of the first in a series of quad-cam prototype V12 engines. Whilst Jaguar’s earlier 6-cylinder XK engine had been designed primarily with road-use in mind, this new V12 was aimed firmly and squarely at the racetrack and a return to Jaguar’s glory days at Le Mans.

On the 1st December 1964 Jaguar began assembly of a second quad-cam prototype V12 engine which would be used to investigate the feasibility of using this race-engine in one of their road cars.

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In the end, only six engines were assembled. Today, there are only three complete running engines in existence. One of these remains with Jaguar (they also own parts of the engine originally installed in the XJ13 in 1966), a second was built up from a collection of new and used parts (assorted components which never progressed beyond the test-bed in period) and a third which miraculously survived as a complete engine – complete and intact from the day it last ran on the road and Jaguar’s test-bed at the end of 1969.

It was my acquisition of this complete engine in 2010 which inspired me to recreate Jaguar’s one-and-only XJ13. Not simply a copy of the car crowning Jaguar Heritage’s collection, but as it was in 1966/67 during active development and when hopes were still alive for a return to Le Mans. In the end, and for a variety of reasons, only one car was built and the car never turned a wheel in anger, although its latent potential was evident very early on when it broke the UK closed-lap record in the hands of its main test and development driver David Hobbs. This record stood for the next 32 years and was only beaten in 1999 by the McLaren F1 by just over 6mph.

In 1967 the XJ13 was pushed into a quiet corner of Jaguar’s Competition Department and left to gather dust.

The car was wheeled out again in 1971 only to be heavily crashed during an event to promote their forthcoming SOHC V12-powered Series 3 E-Type. The driver was Jaguar’s legendary Norman Dewis. Although Norman’s quick reflexes meant he survived unscathed, the car was badly damaged. It was eventually re-built and re-bodied using most of the original components but in a form altered from the original – a form more suited to its intended future role as a demo vehicle.

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Having acquired the surviving second engine, I decided I would recreate Jaguar’s XJ13 as it looked during its active development and as a tribute to the genius of its Designer – Malcolm Sayer. Almost 4 years of meticulous research and study has left me with a unique collection of original documents, photographs and data which gave me the information needed to accurately recreate the car. Although there were never any “blueprints” for the original car, I have succeeded in piecing together original and unique base working data (much of it originating from Malcolm Sayer and others involved in the project) which means I am probably the only person now in a position to accurately recreate the 1966 car – a car which no longer exists in its original form.

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As a means of contributing towards the costs (there are many!) of seeing this car on the racetrack where it belongs, I have decided to offer a limited run of customer cars. Whilst using exactly the same jigs, bucks, tools, materials and techniques as my recreation, these cars are powered by the later SOHC Jaguar V12. Details may be found by CLICKING HERE. These engines are being completely reconditioned and rebuilt by renowned ex-Jaguar engine builder Nigel Boycott. Buy one and help me make the dream a reality!

Recreating the original 1966 XJ13 is not enough. My dream is to eventually see the car carry on where Jaguar left off. I dream of seeing it in open combat with the cars Jaguar had in their sights in 1965 – the mighty Ford GT40 and Ferrari 330 amongst others.

You are cordially invited to come and share the first major milestone towards this dream. The public startup of this unique engine will take place on Thursday, 30th October 2014 – almost 50 years since the engine was first assembled by Jaguar and 45 years since its bark was last heard.

Come and share the dream!

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