London Classic Car Show
In the middle of last month our re-created 1966 Jaguar XJ13 Le Mans Prototype was loaded up for transport to London’s Docklands Excel for its first public “reveal” at the forthcoming Classic Car Show. I had been very impressed on my visit to the first Show back in 2015 and the prospect of being able to run my car down the centre of the main hall in 2016 for its first “reveal” was very enticing. This new Show promised to be even better in 2016 – not only doubling the size of the Show but also with an impressive line-up of machinery and celebrities.
Those of you who follow my blog will know that I have been blessed with support from the surviving older gentlemen who were involved in the project in period. I felt it would be a fitting tribute to these wonderful men if they could be present at this major milestone. In the end I was privileged to be joined at the show by a selection of the original team – including the original’s Project Manager, Mike Kimberley (later to join Colin Chapman as Lotus CEO before becoming President of Lamborghini) . I was also joined on the day by Peter Taylor (worked alongside Bob Blake on building the original and the man behind the wheel of the McLaren F1 road car when it finally broke David Hobbs’ 32-year-old 1967 record), Gerry Beddoes (joined Jaguar in 1948, working with Claude Baily on the prototype quad-cam V12 as well as many other accomplishments), Frank Philpott (Worked on developing the quad-cam engine as well as many of Jaguar’s other iconic engines), Brian Martin (worked on the original car – the man behind all those “temporary” dynatape stickers), Richard Hassan (son of Jaguar’s legendary Walter Hassan) and Sam & Ceol Sayer (Grandson & Great Grandson of Malcolm Sayer).
Left-to-right: Brian Martin, Gerry Beddoes, Frank Philpott & Mike Kimberley.
© Charlie Dale 2016
Peter Taylor – a few last-minute instructions from Team Boss Mike Kimberley …
Sadly, not all the original team were able to make the long trip to London but I do plan to make up to them by choosing a venue closer to home later in the year when the car is first run in anger – watch this space …
One individual in particular was rather put out at not being able to attend as the show coincided with his long-planned cruise to the Caribbean – a disgruntled Peter Wilson – international authority on the XJ13 and renowned author. Don’t worry Peter, I will make it up to you later in the year when we can see just what it feels like to plant your right foot with that mighty lump a few inches behind your head.
Best laid plans … etc.
But …I am running away with myself. Let’s go back a few months …So – there I was – a few months away from the show and making plans to complete the car, install and test the engine before a few shakedown runs to make sure all would be well for a run down the show’s “Grand Avenue”. What could possibly go wrong … ?
hmmmm … what indeed ?
OK. It seemed a good idea at the time.
A precautionary engine strip-down and examination before re-instating the engine’s original in-sump dry-sump pumps (I had used a modern external multi-stage pump for the engine’s startup). Then perhaps a quick check-over the induction/fuelling system followed by re-profiling the metering unit fuel cam before finally setting it up. Oh – and while we were at it, why not re-locate the fuel injectors to a more favourable location. While the engine is apart it would be a shame not to … etc etc etc The list went on and on.
The long and short of it is that I grossly underestimated the time it would take to complete these tasks to the high standard we had already set for ourselves. Re-installing the oil pumps proved to be a mission and a few other gremlins showed themselves before the engine could be properly put back together. As a result, by the time we had a purring engine (well … not so much a “purr” – more of a BARK) we simply ran out of time to properly road-test the car. The good news was that, while on the dyno, the engine started and ran like a dream. A rock-steady idle at 750 rpm when warm then quickly spinning up to an ear-shattering BARK when the throttle was used. This engine really is LOUD. The finished engine sounded GLORIOUS.
I do have an advantage with my engine compared to the one now installed in the original car. The die-cast block engine now in the original car (original engine was a solid alloy block as is my No.2 engine) has a pair of high-lift racing cams installed in the heads. This means that Jaguar’s original really only comes into its own at high revs. At low revs it can sound a bit “tractor-like” – certainly not the case with my engine. My No.2 engine was the most highly-developed of all the prototype engines and, besides still running on the Browns Lane test-beds as late as December 1969, it had previously covered more than 35,000 miles whilst undergoing “secret” testing in a pair of Mk10 Jaguar saloons. Definitely a well-sorted, usable and well-proven engine.
Rather than rush the process of rebuilding this rather special engine, we instead elected on making sure it was rebuilt properly. Road-testing could wait. Another reason we took this decision was because, for the car’s first official test, I wanted the car’s original main test-driver (David Hobbs) behind the wheel with Project Manager Mike Kimberley sat alongside him – as was the case when the car first ventured out for testing in 1967 – almost 50 years ago. Whilst David expressed a wish to drive the car, his TV commitments meant he would have been unavailable for the show (David commentates on F1 in the US). Original XJ13 Team Member and accomplished driver Peter Taylor was drafted in just in case we could achieve the impossible and have the car ready to run during the show. We did try but I wasn’t confident the car was sufficiently well-tested to run amongst the thousands of people thronging the Grand Avenue at the show.
The plan had been to run the car along the show’s Grand Avenue before returning it to our stand. Instead, the organisers allowed me (or, rather, Mike Kimberley) to start the engine while the car was still on our stand. On the first afternoon of the show I made preparations for a start. The timing of the start-up wasn’t widely communicated and, instead, we chose a quiet moment when very little was happening on the Grand Avenue. There were perhaps a dozen or so people around the car. The engine was stone-cold so I hooked up a charge/starter to the battery in case a little more juice was called for (turned out not to be necessary). I looked up and smiled as I saw the “‘elf and safety” elves had been put in position by the organisers. A young chap with a decibel meter only a few yards from the open exhaust (we blew him away with the first blip of the throttle) and, a little further away, another earnest young chap clutching a fire extinguisher. With Mike’s finger poised on the starter switch I turned on the ignition. With my eyes on fuel and oil pressures I gave him a nod.
Mike teased us by only momentarily pressing the starter twice. On the third press all hell broke loose ….
Even though I was only using a small amount of throttle (cold engine still showing 90 psi oil pressure) the sound was deafening. There is a video below but the camera didn’t really capture the noise of this engine. The noise was certainly noticed by the show’s visitors though … When I looked up from the gauges I saw that some people were running towards the sound with looks of “WTF!” on their faces. It felt to me as if the exposed velocity stacks were SUCKING in people from all corners of the hall. When I next looked up we were surrounded by a mass of beaming enthusiasts.
So .. what next?
The car is now safely in storage at a secret location pending preparation for its first run in anger on track later this year.
We are now firmly on course to achieve our next milestone of seeing (and hearing) my interpretation of ®Jaguar’s sublime 1966 Le Mans Prototype running in anger.I want to sincerely thank those friends and fellow-enthusiasts who have offered support and encouragement over the last few years – it really does mean a lot to me. You know who you are.
I particularly want to thank members of the original XJ13 Team for their past and continuing support. Meeting with these wonderful gentlemen with their combined wealth of experience and knowledge has played a significant part in getting to where we are now.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Mike Kimberley (®XJ13 Project Manager; Lotus CEO; Lamborghini President)
Peter Wilson (International authority on the ®XJ13; Member of team who built the original; Renowned Author)
Peter Taylor (Helped build the original car; Accomplished Racecar Pilot; The man who broke David Hobbs’ 32-year Jaguar ®XJ13 UK closed circuit record behind the wheel of the McLaren F1 road car)
Jim Eastick (The man who worked on the prototype engines in period; Jim started the No.1 engine over 50 years ago in the presence of William Heynes – Jim started my No.2 engine 50 years later in the presence of Heynes’ son, Jonathan)
Frank Philpott (Helped develop the prototype quad-cam V12 as well as many other iconic ®Jaguar engines)
Gerry Beddoes (Joined ®Jaguar in 1948 then helped Jaguar’s legendary Claude Baily design the mighty quad-cam V12 prototype amongst many other accomplishments)
Mike McElligott (Worked alongside Jaguar’s Bob Blake and helped build the original car)
Peter Jones (Joined Jaguar in 1948 and played a significant part in developing ®Jaguar’s iconic racecars – C-Type, D-Type, ®XJ13 and Lightweight E-Type)
Brian James Martin (Wired up the original car – the man responsible for those “temporary” red stickers on the dashboard …)
Back to the Show …
Here’s a few images from the show as well as some reports:
Great Grandson of Malcolm.
(Read about Malcolm Sayer and the ®XJ13 here)
Reunion of the Old Team – Mike Kimberley meets up with Gerry Beddoes for the first time in over 40 years
Shiny car. Not a single bit of filler on the body. Just primer and a topcoat – as original.
Fellow XJ13 Enthusiasts
examining “Customer” SOHC
A look at what sits 6″ behind the back of your head …
Le Mans Headlamp
Shades of E-Type
Sayer’s original 1966 car front arches (minus “70’s Flares”)
The small plaque says “Replica of ..”
Make no mistake, There is only ONE original Jaguar XJ13 and that car is under the care of The Jaguar Heritage Trust
240 mph chronometric speedometer.At the risk of sounding even more like an anorak, the 1966 original had a few more dynatape stickers (according to Brian Martin who put them on). The extra stickers seems to have got lost and the original car no longer sports them.
Hmmm … I DO sound like an anorak …..
Mike Kimberley told me the original wiper was never connected up in period. Better pull those wires ….
Original form of “splitter” as in 1966
My (long-suffering) wife entertains one of our VIP guests while I talk “Jaguar” to Sanjay Seetanah and David Lillywhite of Octane Magazine.
Note rather optimistically placed Dunlop racing overall and helmet …
1964 Lightweight E-Type peg-drive wheels as original (Sir William was notoriously “careful” with his money and insisted on the use of “off-the-shelf” front suspension components and wheels).
Gerry Beddoes consults “The Bible” (Peter Wilson’s definitive book on the XJ13 and the prototype engines).
Richard Hassan discusses the finer points.
London was the first time Mike Kimberley had set eyes on the finished car.
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