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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The XJ13's story begins back in 1955, it was becoming clear that the XK series engine that had brought so much motor racing success to Jaguar was becoming less competitive, particularly at Le Mans. As a result, it was decided to build a completely new engine that would be a race winner.
This was conceived as a 5 litre quad-cam V12 unit which was intended to be suitable for use in a road car after it had been proved at Le Mans.

It was to be installed in a mid-engined sports racing car and work on the chassis and body started around 1960. the placing of the engine in the centre of the car was intended to bring 2 benefits. First, the bonnet line could be lower so as to improve aerodynamic efficiency. Second, the change in weight distribution provided opportunities for improved handling.
However, during this period, the company's attitude to racing had changed and so progress on the new model was slow. As a result, it was not until 1966, that the car was built and ready for testing. It might have been possible to use it to contest Le Mans in 1966 or 1967, but any thoughts of doing so were put aside by BMC (British Motor Corperaton) in 1965 when they bought a company called Pressed Steel, which made the bodys for a large amount of British car manurfactures at the time (Including Jaguar) and once BMC owned Pressed Steel they knew there rival's secrets, once BMC owned Pressed Steel they Owned everyone - This Merged From BMC to BL (British Leyland) in 1968 which alot of people say was the begining of the end for britains car industry
The future was far too uncertain to allow the company to mount a major racing programme and so the XJ13 was put to one side for several months.

It must have provided a continuing source of frustration, sitting in the corner of the factory, yet the coompany was worried about there being any possibility of news of its existence leaking out. At the time, the six cylinder E-Type was very successful. It seemed likely that potential E-Type customers would delay their purchase if they knew of the existence of a mid-engined, V12 machine and so Sir William Lyons instructed that the car was not to be circuit tested.
Norman Dewis was Chief Development Tester for Jaguar and he recalls that his boss, Bill Heynes, suggested that the car should be given a run in spite of Sir William's instructions. "He thought it was a shame to have the car sitting there and not take it out so he suggested that I should take it to MIRA one Sunday morning. He also said that if Sir William found out about it, I would be on my own.

So, early one Sunday morning, the XJ13 was taken to the Motor Industry Research Association test centre near Nuneaton.
Norman Dewis remembers the day well "We spent the whole day on the high speed circuit and in the afternoon, the film people said that they needed just one more shot. This involved another five laps of the track." The car was taken out again and this almost brought about the end, not only of the car, but also of the driver. Travelling at high speed on the banked circuit, the load on the wheels was dramatically increased by G forces.

It proved to be too much for the rear, offside wheel which collapsed under the strain.
This happened while Dewis was driving near the top of the banking at 140 miles an hour. It began to career off the banking towards the infield and Dewis remembers turning off the ignition and crouching down under the scuttle. "I clipped one of the barrels on the infield and then the car turned end over end twice before rolling twice," recalls Dewis. "Fortunately, when it stopped, it was on its wheels and so I was able to get out and wait for help to arrive." The car was a complete wreck.

Under normal circumstances, that would have been the end of the story with the car being broken up for scrap and the car just a memory recorded on film in its test session or picture's printed in the pages of book and magazines. But by some chance, it was in fact returned to the factory and stayed in a corner for almost two years before the decision was taken to restore it.
Fortunately, the wooden formers that had been used to build the original body had survived. Abbey Panels, the company that had made the original body panels, were able to fabricate new ones and the restored body began to take shape. The wheels were a different story, however. Two of them had been almost completely destroyed in the accident and the patterns used to make them had been scrapped. Eventually, it was found that the damaged rims could be removed and replaced with a modified outer section from a Concorde undercarriage. Today the car still remains in the museum and is still awe-inspiring for a lot of Jaguar enthusiasts!!

The 1:1

The 1:18 by AutoArt

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6,546 Posts
Great write up, Mr. V! :cheers

Just one little addition, if I may. The XJ13 was officially tested in 1967, and the results of this run got to the ears of Sir William, who called Dewis in and was furious about the whole incident. But, Dewis managed to contagiate him with his enthusiasm, and the car was allowed back on the test track, and was tested more then once right after that. Unhappily, the results weren't very good, and to make the car good more (a lot more) money would have to be invested. Since racing was not a priority to Jaguar anymore, the project was shelved and the XJ13 went to a warehouse.

In 1971, with the introduction of the new E Type in 1972, Jaguar's PR people thought that the XJ13 would look nice if used to promote the new E Type, so the XJ13 was bought back to the test track, this time for a film shoot. On the lap that would be the last of the day, with Dewis at the wheel, on a high speed pass a wheel simply colapsed, and the car started tumbling, and was totally destroyed. Fortunately Dewis survived the crash witout harm.

The wreck was collected, every little piece was stored, and some years later Jaguar resolved to rebuild the car. They did, and today it's runing, and even participating in some select festivals.

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the great wrtie up!! I really enjoyed this because I have been wanting to learn more about this car because I just purchased the millenuim edition! :nicejob

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6,274 Posts
Great history lesson, Mr. V!

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1,219 Posts
Thank you MrV for posting this :nicejob
Information and pictures like this is the life-blood of DX

As an extra bit of information - the timeline leading up to BL

1910 - Daimler purchased by engineering company BSA

1931 - Lanchester purchased by BSA. (Last Lanchester 1956)

1938 - Morris incorporates Wolseley and Riley forming the Nuffield Organisation

1944 - Standard acquire Triumph Cars, forming Standard Triumph

1946 - Austin acquire Vanden Plas

1952 - The Nuffield Organisation and Austin merge to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC)

1960 - Jaguar buy the car-making interests of BSA, including Daimler

1961 - Leyland Motors acquire Standard Triumph

1965 - Rover acquire Alvis

1966 - BMC merge with Jaguar to form British Motor Holdings

1967 - Leyland absorb Rover

1968 - Leyland merge with British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC)

1975 - Publication of the Ryder Report, British Leyland effectively nationalised due to financial difficulties, company changes its name to BL Ltd.

1977 - Michael Edwardes appointed as Chairman by Labour Government. Begins massive cull of excess BL assets.

Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the stories guys.

That photo of the AUTOart model is sensational!! Well done.

I might have to see if i can get this one in my collection shortly.



· Registered
9,489 Posts
Old topic but....first time I see it.......

Great story.......Thanks for sharing the history of this absolute beauty on wheels that...(thank God)...never made it to the junkyard!
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