The Jaguar XJ13 was a prototype racing car developed by Jaguar to challenge at Le Mans in the mid-1960s.
It never raced, and only one was ever produced. The car has not been officially valued, but a £7 million bid for it was declined by the owners in 1996.
Jaguar had considered the manufacture of a DOHC V12 engine as far back as 1950, initially for racing purposes, and then developing a SOHC road going version, unlike the XK which was designed as a production engine and later pressed into service for racing. The engine design was essentially two XK 6-cylinder engines on a common crankshaft with an aluminum cylinder block, although there were differences in the inlet porting, valve angles and combustion chamber shape. The first engine ran in July 1964.
The idea of a mid-engined prototype was first mooted in 1960, but it was not until 1965 that construction began, with the first car running by March 1966. The aluminum body was designed by Malcolm Sayer, the aerodynamicist responsible for the Jaguar C-type, D-type, E-type and XJS, who used his Bristol Aeroplane Company background to build it using techniques borrowed from the aircraft industry. The task of building the car was entrusted to Bob Blake - described by his contemporaries as "An Artist in Metal".
The XJ13 had mid-engine format with the 5.0 litre V12 engine mounted behind the driver, used as a stressed chassis member together with the five-speed manual ZF Transaxle driving the rear wheels.
The front suspension wishbones were similar to that of the E-Type, however where the E-Type used longitudinal torsion bars, the XJ13 had more conventional coil spring/damper units. At the rear there again remained similarities with the E-Type—the use of driveshafts as upper transverse links—however the rest was quite different, with two long radius arms per side angling back from the central body tub together with a single fabricated transverse lower link.
The development of the XJ13, although treated seriously by the designers, was never a priority for company management (despite assistant MD Lofty England's Le Mans success in the 1950s), and became less so following the 1966 merger with BMC. By that time Ford had developed the 7.0 litre GT40, and so the XJ13 was considered obsolete by the time the prototype was complete. The prototype was tested at MIRA and at Silverstone, which confirmed that it would have required considerable development to make it competitive. The prototype was put into storage and no further examples were made.
In 1971 the Series 3 E-type was about to be launched with Jaguar's first production V12 engine. The publicity team wanted a shot of the XJ13 at speed for the opening sequence of the film launching the V12 E-Type. On 21 January 1971, the XJ13 was taken to MIRA for the filming with Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis at the wheel. Unfortunately, a rear tyre deflated at speed, the car rolled heavily and was nearly destroyed although Norman Dewis was fortunately unharmed. The wreck of the car was put back into storage.
Some years later, Edward Loades spotted the crashed XJ13 in storage at Jaguar and made the offer to 'Lofty' England that his company Abbey Panels should rebuild the car. The car was rebuilt, to a specification similar to the original, using some of the body jigs made for its original construction and at a cost of £1000 to Jaguar. The XJ13 finally made its public debut in July 1973 when 'Lofty' drove it around Silverstone at the British Grand Prix meeting and it is now displayed in the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection located in Coventry; however, this museum is scheduled to be shut down in September 2012. Plans are being made for a replacement museum although this may be a few years away.
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