What if ….
It’s a question that has dominated the history of the XJ13, a prototype built by Jaguar in 1966 in a quest to continue the marque’s legendary run of success in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Powered by a new quad-cam, 5-litre Vl2, the XJ13 was Jaguar’s first mid -engined car – and without doubt one of the most beautiful automotive designs of all time. Sadly, it remained unraced. A combination of internal politics and a change in sporting regulations meant that it was banished to a corner of the Competition Department – mothballed and all but forgotten as other projects took priority.
But what if the XJ13 had been developed and raced? What if this car’s immense potential had been realised?
Picture the scene one day in late 1967, members of Ecurie Ecosse – the famous Scottish race team that twice won Le Mans in the 1950s with Jaguar D-types – travel to the Browns Lane factory to discuss repeating that success. During their visit, they spot the XJ13, covered up and tucked away. But as soon as the covers come off, they know that they’ve got a potential winner on their hands. A deal is done, and work begins on a two-year project to develop and build a car in order for Ecurie Ecosse to take on the might of Ford , Ferrari and Porsche at the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours. This alternate reality could have been one of motor racing’s greatest stories – just imagine if the money, not to say courage and ambition, had been invested into it. Now a team of designers and engineers have done just that.
The birth of the Ecurie Ecosse LM69
Fifty years on, the spectacular LM69 is to be launched. While remaining true in spirit and sympathetic to the style of the fabulous XJ13, its bodywork has been developed into an all-new design that has its own purposeful beauty. The quad -cam V12 is the heart of the car, a unique signature that has been designed to evoke the experience of driving at Le Mans in 1969. Not only is the LM69 suitable for track use, it’s fully road-legal. A strict brief was established from the start. The design and engineering team would have to adhere to the regulations of the time, and feature only design details and technology that entered motorsport no later than early 1969.
As the XJ13 would have done had it been prepared for serious competition use, the LM69 benefits from innovations that appeared during that exciting era. Composite materials have been used, it’s lighter than the original car, and it boasts experimental aerodynamic devices, wider wheels and tyres, as well as a much-improved engine.
Only 25 will be produced, in keeping with the 1969 FIA homologation requirements and to maintain its exclusivity. Each one will be individually hand-built in the West Midlands by the best British craftsmen in their field.
Dreams of Glory
This is the wonderful story of the birth of an innovative l 960’s race car that Ecurie Ecosse might have raced at Le Mans in 1969 if they had developed their own car and changed the course of history. This is the story of The Ecurie Ecosse LM69.
The finished Ecurie Ecosse LM69 was a labour of love by a group of passionate car enthusiasts , and the beautiful body sparks the imagination of any racing fan to dream of what could have happened if this Le Mans racer had materialised. The finished car only tells the last chapter of this tale. Whilst this venture was undertaken by a group of people, the start can be traced back to 15 years ago and one man.
Neville Swales decided to follow his passion and started to meticulously recreate the legendary Jaguar XJ13, and at the same time bring to life a prototype engine that never made it into production in 1966. Neville’s company ‘Building the Legend’ was born. Working from small beginnings in his workshop in Coventry, England , Neville had been quietly creating a tool room copy of the Jaguar XJ13.
In 2016 he found success when his XJ13 became a “Car of the Year Finalist” at the International Historic Motoring Awards. With this validation of the excellent work Neville and his team achieved, it brought positive media acclaim, but it a also caught the eye of Jaguar Cars who expressed concern about the XJ13 which they believed to be their intellectual property. Not wishing to unduly antagonise Jaguar, he needed another plan that would allow him to use his skills. He decided a different design was needed. After much searching for a design team to work with, Neville found the services of Design Q , and the experience of Howard Guy.
Neville approached Design Q with the basic brief, to design a new body to wrap around his 1966 chassis and engine. Design Q is an internationally recognised automotive & aerospace design consultancy, having previously worked with automotive brands such as Ferrari, Maserati, Mclaren, Bentley and others. Its CEO Howard Guy was a former Principal Designer at Jaguar from 1987 to 1997 and worked on the design of the XJ220, XJ & XJR. Very familiar with Jaguars, the idea to design a 60’s Le Mans car sparked Howard’s imagination and Design Q agreed to create a new design. Howard became a new catalyst for this project, would supply backing of Design Q based on their wealth of automotive experience
Design Q started work with the basic brief, to reskin Neville’s XJ13, but it posed so many questions that needed answers. If not a Jaguar, then what brand could it be? Would it still be a car for 1966, or would the concept be improved to be more competitive with its period rivals? After a lot of research into that era of racing , and dissecting Neville’s car, many brain storming sessions happened at Design Q. It was decided that the car would ‘move forward’ , not just in terms of design and engineering , but also in years. 1969 was the year! It would mark the 50th anniversary of the LM69 (if the car launched before Le Mans, 2019). In addition, it was an exciting time in motorsport, with ground breaking engineering advancements changing what was possible.
A brand was needed to ‘father’ the car. In researching Le Mans and its history, it became clear what iconic brand would suit this concept. A brand with a rich Le Mans pedigree, having won Le Mans twice a decade earlier in their famous Saltire -blue metallic paint and white striped livery. A team that also raced Jaguars but eclipsed that name to become an icon in motorsport in its own right An underdog team that brought trophies back to Britain and inspired a nation. The car just had to be an Ecurie Ecosse. With this initial idea in mind, the Design Q team set out to imagine what an Ecurie Ecosse would look like a decade on from their wins – if the team had made the decision to produce their own car in 1969. With this unique brief, strict guidelines had to be set. As the car was due to race in 1969 , no technology post May 1969 could be used, and engineering and design influences of competitors cars up to and through the 1968 season could be adopted in the same way race teams evolve and develop their cars. Howard, like most motoring enthusiasts, is fond of the Ecurie Ecosse success story with the Jaguar D-Type, cars that seemed to be closer to fighter aircraft than to road vehicles. Cars that pushed technology and lead the world in racing. Beautiful cars driven by a talented team of drivers.
Ecurie Ecosse started life as a small, resourceful racing team from Edinburgh, Scotland. Founded with a meagre budget in November 195l by Fl racing driver-turned entrepreneur David Murray. The outfit would go on to defy all odds by grabbing back-to-back victories at Le Mans, becoming champions in 1956 and 1957. The achievements were nothing short of remarkable. Murray’s ‘Team Scotland’ was based at Merchiston Mews, a cobble-laden lane of garages in suburban Edinburgh. Backed by fellow Scottish motor racing enthusiasts, and the talents of mechanic ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, the team was quickly regarded as one of the most potent forces in the country, competing at three successive Fl British Grand Prix from 19 52-54 .
Ecurie Ecosse would depart Formula One to concentrate primarily on Sportscar events from 1956.
Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans drivers Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson made history in 1956 by winning the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The small team shook the world of motor racing as they overcame giants such as Ferrari, Lotus and Maserati to claim their laurels. The following year, the team again appeared at Le Mans and astonishingly managed to do it all again – this time securing a stunning 1 -2 finish. The masterful Ron Flockhart partnered with Ivor Bueb and claimed first position, with fellow teammates Ninian Sanderson and John Lawrence coming an admirable second. Flockhart and Bueb ‘s distance record of 4397km would not be surpassed until 1961. The team would go on to notch up an incredible 68 racing victories in just 10 seasons. The team reformed in 1982 under the astute leaders hip of Hugh McCaig and would go on to taste success on several occasions at various major racing events. Today the company is run by Hugh’s son, Alasdair McCaig.
Neville called the Ecurie Ecosse office and requested an audience with Alasdair. Two weeks later at a meeting in London at ‘The Jet Business’ on Park lane (one of Design Q’s clients for Jet interiors), Alasdair McCaig met Howard, Neville, and designers Greg Shilton and Patrick M cCallion for the first time. Alasdair had no idea what was about to happen but was presented with the exciting concept and visuals of the proposed car. On seeing the designs with The Ecurie Ecosse livery all over it he was stunned! That was the moment when the Ecurie Ecosse LM69 became official. Without hesitation, Ecurie Ecosse became part of a joint venture to produce a limited run of Ecurie Ecosse cars. Alasdair said; “I’m thrilled to partner with Building the Legend and Design Q in bringing the LM69 to life It is incredibly exciting to follow a dream and see what my forebears might have created in the late 1960s, in what is still regarded as the golden age of Le Mans”.
A separate company, Ecurie Cars limited will manufacture, promote and sell the car.
The finished design is a unique Ecurie Ecosse race car that could have raced at Le Mans in 1969 if Ecurie Ecosse had created their own car, the LM69 . It is achingly beautiful, yet with the menace and purposefulness that you would expect of a car designed to win the greatest race on earth! The team shared the design concept with legendary race driver Jackie Oliver who, along with Le Mans legend Jacky lckx, won the race in 1969 in their Ford GT40. Jackie was very impressed and guided Ecurie Cars on the key aerodynamic debate that was happening at the time, including the foibles of the mighty Porsche 917 that was introduced in 1969, before it was tamed by the aero genius of John Horsman and the John Wyer team who showed the Stuttgart team how to turn the 917 into a competitive car. Jackie said “it would have been interesting to have had another British competitor at the race, not least as the GT40 won the race against the faster Porsches through better reliability and great team work. It would have been a mouth-watering prospect!
The Engine – Quad-Cam V12
It goes without saying that a brilliantly designed race car needs a great engine Currently under development is a unique quad-cam V12 power unit, the type which could have been heard howling down the Mulsanne Straight in 1969 and beyond. Assisted by a team of experienced engine designers and machine shops, the developing quad-cam V12 engine will be “of the period “, albeit incorporating some of the best design practices. It’s being designed to be both powerful and a reliably fast race/road engine which is inspired by the basic architecture of those engines which powered cars to victory in the late 1960s. The engine will be available in typical 1960s condition with traditional distributors and mechanical fuel injection, but clients will be offered the option of fully programmable fuel injection & ignition due to the much-improved efficiency and tuneability. The engine is of course normally aspirated, and customers will gain the full visceral experience of a howling V12 race engine inches from the back of their heads. The intention is to offer the engine in varying capacities – from “standard” to bored and stroked versions.
DO YOU WANT TO DREAM TOO?
This fantastic opportunity to create something truly unique, a car that pays homage to a phenomenal era, a brilliant race team, and the event that inspired everything, the Le Mans 24 hours. The exciting prospect of taking the XJ13 and moving it forward by 3 years. What if this car had raced in 69? This is something that movies are made from.
Potential customers are welcome to participate alongside Ecurie Ecosse and play a part in the bringing of LM69 to life. You can purchase and drive the car for yourself, race it and be a part of the greatest drive that could have happened. Each customer will become a participant in the story , deciding exactly what specification and interior they want, and experience the exquisite engineering and beauty of the Ecurie Ecosse LM69 for themselves. Product ion will be strictly limited to just 25 cars, as per homologation rules at the time.
Visit www.EcurieCars.com for more details and to make contact ….