XJ 13 anyone?


With Jaguar completing the production run of six E-Type lightweights (or is that a re-run?) there is renewed interest in Jaguar replicas. According to Hemmings, two reproductions set to debut in England early next year take inspiration from two of Jaguar’s rarest vehicles: the XK180 concept car and the one-off XJ13 Le Mans car.

Malcolm Sayer‘s design work for the Le Mans car started in the late 1950’s and the car itself ran in 1964, but it took until the early part of 1966 for Jaguar to complete the mid-engine racer and then another year for the company to begin testing it. By that time, the XJ13 had become outdated for racing, but Coventry kept testing it, interested in developing its experimental V-12 – essentially a pair of the company’s double overhead-camshaft inline-sixes paired together on a common crankcase – for its road cars.

Jaguar XJ 13.Jaguar XJ 13.

The testing came to an end in January 1971, in part because the Series 3 E-Type debuted with the production V-12 not long after, but more due to the infamous crash of the XJ13 at the MIRA test track in Warwickshire. Blamed on a separated tire or wheel, the crash at triple-digit speeds sent test driver Norman Dewis tumbling, and while Dewis emerged from it unhurt, the car appeared totaled. After a couple years in storage, Jaguar then had it rebuilt, though not exactly as it was before the crash.

That’s what Neville Swales intends to rectify with his reproduction of the XJ13. While the original remains with Jaguar, as a part of the Jaguar Heritage Trust display in the British Motor Museum, Swales – prodded on by his discovery of a 5.0 L double overhead-camshaft V-12 from the XJ13 program – has spent the last few years researching and piece-by-piece recreating the XJ13 in its original pre-crash form, enlisting the help of North Devon Metalcraft in bodying the car in aluminum.

“The project has been supported by surviving members of the original XJ13 Project Team and we have enjoyed the co-operation of Jaguar Heritage which has allowed us unfettered access to its archive,” Swales said in a press release.