One of the most beautiful race cars ever produced, the Jaguar XJ13 never turned a wheel in competition. Built to contend with the likes of Ford and Ferrari at LeMans, the XJ13 prototype was finished too late to compete in the 1966 event. By 1967, the rules had changed to limit engine displacement to 3 liters, and Jaguar had no suitable replacement motor.
More pics after the jump.
The car was used as a testbed for Jaguar’s V12 engine development, and was then to be used for publicity. During the filming of a promotional video, the car lost a wheel at speed and suffered a devastating crash. Jaguar decided to rebuild the car, finishing the restoration in 1973. To keep the car as authentic as possible, a repaired piston was used instead of a new one; the car could be driven, but it would not hold up to the rigors of a race track.
Preserved in Jaguar’s Heritage Collection, the XJ13 saw light duty at car shows and special events. In 2002, the car again suffered a damaging accident when it rolled off a high curb and cracked the original 12 cylinder engine block. Jaguar once again made the correct decision; the car would be rebuilt, this time to full working condition. The restoration was completed in 2007, and the XJ13 made it’s public reappearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
How good was the XJ13? The 12 cylinder, 5 liter motor developed in excess of 500 horsepower, good enough for a top speed of 161 miles per hour. The engine and transaxle bolted to the aluminum frame and served as the only support structure aft of the cockpit bulkhead. Suspension components were bolted directly to the transaxle. The sensuous body was created by Jaguar’s aerodynamicist, Malcom Sayer, who was the man behind the D type and C type Jags.
The fact that only one XJ13 was ever produced only ads to the car’s appeal. Sure you can buy a replica, but what gear head among us wouldn’t love to have the original XJ13 in his collection?