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XJ13

XJ13

  • Superb tool-room copy of the Jaguar XJ13 Prototype
  • One of four cars built
  • Constructed by the best name in the business
  • Eligible for FIA papers
Conceived as a mid-engined rival to the Ferrari 250 LM and the Ford GT40, and one that would mark Jaguar’s return to Le Mans after an absence of eight years, the XJ13 ultimately became famous as the competition car ‘that never was’.

Six years in the planning it was not until 1965 that construction began with the first car ready by March 1966. Featuring Jaguar’s first DOHC V12 engine, a 5.0 litre unit designed by William Heynes and Claude Bailey, together with the five-speed manual ZF Transaxle, it was clothed in a radical aluminium body by Malcolm Sayer the aerodynamicist responsible for the Jaguar C-Type and D-Type, who once again used techniques borrowed from the aircraft industry. The task of building the car was entrusted by Heynes to engineer Derick White, Ted Brookes, Mike Kimberley, Bob Blake in the Browns Lane experimental department’s Competition Shop. Ex-Jaguar Apprentice David Hobbs was recruited to test the car and in doing achieved an unofficial UK closed lap record with the XJ13 which stood for 32 years.

Despite this progress the car was not considered a priority by the company, and became less so following the 1966 merger with BMC, and by this time Ford had already developed the 7.0 litre GT40 rendering the XJ13 obsolete. The prototype was mothballed and no further examples were made.

In 1971 the XJ13 was famously brought out of retirement to help in the launch of the new Series 3 Jaguar E-Type, featuring Jaguar’s first production V12 engine, and was filmed during a high speed run at the MIRA test track. What followed is now the stuff of legend, as the XJ13, driven by test driver Norman Dewis, caught the barrier on the banking and was catapulted across the track, rolling several times before coming to rest. Miraculouly Dewis was able to walk away from the wreckage unharmed.

That should have been the end of the XJ13 story had it not been for Edward Loades of Abbey Panels who made the offer to ‘Lofty’ England rebuild the wreckage. The XJ13 was rebuilt, to a specification similar to the original, using some of the body jigs made for its original construction and it is now displayed at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.

With only the rebuilt Prototype in existence there has always been a genuine desire among Jaguar collectors to own a copy of the XJ13, and attempts have been made to recreate the car, but none so successful as the four cars built by Neville Swales of Building The Legend. He had both the assistance of Jaguar Heritage Trust, who granted access to its archive at the time, and the active involvement of the surviving members of Competition Department who originally worked on the XJ13 project, including Peter Wilson who wrote XJ13: the definite story of the Jaguar Le Mans car.

The car we have here is one of those four cars.

With pains-taking research, and greater access to archive material than any of his predecessors, Swales believes that these cars are more accurate than the rebuilt original; particularly given Jaguar’s admission at the time their car was not ‘an exact’ replica of the original, due to he damage it sustained.

The result is a nut and bolt recreation of the original, correct to the tiniest detail, and wholly indistinguishable from the Prototype. The accuracy and build quality is superb, with the only concession to practical road use being the fitting of a twin cam cylinder head rather than a quad cam original. However a quad cam head is available at extra cost if required*.

Such is his forensic knowledge of these cars that Neville Swales will be assisting the company Ecurie Ecosse in the construction of their recently annouced LM69, a hi-tech modern race car inspired by the XJ13, of which just 25 will be built at a cost of between $990,000 – $1.4M. For a fraction of the price you can own a car that’s as close at its possible to get to the original.

£POA

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