The XJ13 was, for its time, quite an advanced piece of design. In 1964 Jaguar began to lay down the foundations of their prototype - at this stage, their sights were set on the 1965 24 hours of Le Mans and initial progress was rapid.
The 1966 Jaguar XJ13 is no more. Its spirit and identity live on in a Jaguar-built replica constructed from the mortal remains of the original car which suffered a calamitous crash during a demo run in 1971.
On the 3rd June 1965 an internal "Instruction to Proceed (XJ13 Car)" was issued by Jaguar’s Bob Knight – it started, “Build one prototype competiton car …”. Responsibilities for all aspects of the car’s design were allocated – the responsibility for the body being given to Malcolm Sayer, Phil Weaver and Bob Blake.
During the rebuild by Abbey Panels in 1972/73, certain aspects of the car were altered and it lost its "pure" form as originally envisaged by Sayer. One of the more obvious "enhancements" was the addition of flared/widened wheelarches. The XJ13 log records this was done primarily for "cosmetic reasons". There are many differences between the car I wanted to recreate and the car as it stands today.
Looking back to 2015 - 50 years (almost to the month) after similar events took place in Jaguar's Competition Department, work was continuing apace on my exact recreation of Jaguar's 1966 XJ13 Le Mans Prototype.
"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!"
As my quest to recreate an exact copy of the 1966 XJ13 continued, I came across the story of the man largely responsible for making the original body - Bob Blake. What follows is the story of a man able to translate the designs of people, such as the legendary Malcolm Sayer, into metal. Contemporaries of Bob Blake described him as "An Artist in Metal".
"We need some rivets" said Paul. "OK" I replied, "What kind do we need?". Paul scratched his head and answered, "Dunno - I suppose we need to find out what Jaguar used in 1966".
Where did Jaguar source components in period? Although Jaguar were able to raid their “parts bin” for some components of their XJ13 Le Mans Prototype, most of the car’s major items were custom-made. “Off-the-Shelf” components used in period included things such as Lightweight E-Type (LWE) front suspension & steering rack (albeit modified), instruments, lighting and front wheels (as also used on the rears of LWE racers). However, major components used for the car’s rear wheels, drivetrain, power-unit, braking systems and rear suspension had to be custom made in period.
Hang on - I thought the late Norman Dewis was the XJ13's test driver? Noooo .... a common misconception but, in truth, the legendary Mr Dewis did not participate in all the tests. Contrary to popular belief, there were no "unofficial" tests and the car was driven at all of its outings during active development by David Hobbs.