The XJ13 first ran in April 1966 and, by the summer of 1967, development was still continuing apace with an extended test at Silverstone in August of that year. This was the ninth test carried out over a period of less than six months which does demonstrate Jaguar's commitment to the project at that time. These tests were carried out with the full knowledge of Jaguar's senior management with test reports widely distributed internally by the project leader - Mike Kimberley.
Michael J. Kimberley (“Mike”) C.Eng., F.I. Mech. E., F.R.S.A., F.I.E.D, F.I.M.I has had a remarkable career in the motor industry over the last 56 years, working with some of the great engineers, innovators and leaders of the worlds motor companies. Mike started as an apprentice with Jaguar in 1953 before rapidly progressing to becoming in Section Leader, Special Projects at Jaguar in 1965 where he lead the team developing the Jaguar XJ13 Le Mans car, under such famous names as Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons and Jaguar race director Frank (Lofty) England ...."
Mike Kimberley - Jaguar XJ13 Project Leader.
During this active development phase it seems that most of the testing was carried out by David Hobbs with additional drives by Richard Attwood and Norman Dewis.
It was David Hobbs who set the closed course record (167.5 MPH) for UK with the XJ13. This record lasted for 19 years. Hobbs' first race was in 1959 driving his mother's Morris Oxford. He turned professional in 1964 and raced extensively world wide for 30 years. His last race driven was the Masters Championship in 1993.
David Hobbs - racing driver and former Jaguar apprentice. Picture taken at the 2009 Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction.
Richard Attwood was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. Richard James David "Dickie" Attwood (born 4 April 1940, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire) is a British former motor racing driver. During his career he raced for the BRM, Lotus and Cooper Formula One teams. In his whole F1 career he achieved one podium and scored a total of 11 championship points. He was also a successful sports car racing driver and won the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans race, driving a Porsche 917.
Richard Attwood - racing driver and former Jaguar apprentice.
Norman Dewis is Jaguar's legendary Test Driver. Dewis is best remembered for a career spanning 33 years at Jaguar. In the words of Paul Skilleter,
" ... He tested and developed a remarkable series of cars, rode with Stirling Moss in a C-type in the 1952 Mille Miglia, drove a 190mph works D-type in the highly dramatic 1955 Le Mans, raced in the Goodwood 9 Hours, and set an amazing 173mph production car record at Jabbeke in Belgium with an XK 120. Completing over a million test miles at 100mph-plus average, Norman also played a crucial role developing the revolutionary Dunlop disc brake, and survived high-speed crashes and rollovers in the days before seat-belts – and without ever breaking a single bone ...."
Norman Dewis - Jaguar's legendary test driver.
A quick search of the internet will uncover the commonly-held view that it was an impending change to Le Mans engine capacity regulations alone which led Jaguar senior management to halt further development of the car. However, the truth is perhaps a little more involved than this and it seems a number of factors may have conspired to halt further development of the XJ13.
- An impending change to the Le Mans regulations to limit engine capacity to 3 litres. In Lofty England's own words, in a memo to William Heynes, he stated "... the 3-litre maximum engine capacity formula for Group 6 prototype cars will be applied to all sports car championship races, which includes Le Mans, for the next three years, i.e. up to and including 1970, which period coincides with the remaining period of the current Formula 1 racing car regulations ..."
- The spectre of the "GT40 Armada" in 1967. In the spring of 1963, Ford heard that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling his company to Ford. Ford committed millions of dollars researching and auditing Ferrari's company only to have Ferrari unilaterally withdraw from talks at a late stage. This angered Henry Ford II who directed his racing division to find a company that could help them build a Ferrari-beater on the world endurance-racing circuit. The Ferrari-beater turned out to be the Mark IV GT40 which, although american-built, was based on a collaboration between Ford and England's Lola. Ford did not, at this time, have the racing prowess to take on the likes of Ferrari so had earlier engaged in discussions with England's Lotus, Cooper and Lola - eventually choosing the latter as a partner.
- The BMC takeover of Jaguar. On 11 July 1966, the "merger" of Jaguar with the British Motor Corporation was announced. In reality, this was a takeover by BMC of Jaguar, but Sir William Lyons maintained control of most of his his empire. One reason that Lyons agreed to the 'merger' was to get financial backing for future model programmes. Lyons saw Jaguar's future success lay in introducing new road cars. Jaguar's finances were stretched at the time and racing had reached a new level of professionalism and expenditure that Lyons could not now justify.
On the 29th September 1967, Lofty England said:
" ... we are about to commit ourselves for considerable expenditure with ZF for the supply of special gearbox units for the current XJ.13 5-litre competition car and also a 3-litre version, which is a new project ...."
The fact that Jaguar were actively considering a 3 litre version of the XJ13 indicates it wasn't this rule change alone that would have prevented them racing. England's other comments in the same memo give an indication of the real reason development of the XJ13 was shelved:
" .... there does not, therefore, appear to be any point in doing any further development work on the 5 litre car or, in fact, on a 3-litre version, unless it is our intention to produce a lightweight 3-litre Formula 1 type engine, as cars which will be competing in sports car championship races will in effect be Formula 1 racing cars with bodywork to meet the sports car regulations ...."
In other words, reading between the lines, not only would development of a competitive car be very expensive, it would also have to compete against the equivalent of then-current Formula 1 cars. It would have seemed very unlikely that Jaguar could have triumphed under those circumstances. Finances, since the BMC takeover, were tight and Lyons' emphasis would have been on new production models - not racing - especially not where Jaguar would stand little chance of winning.
The decision was made - late in 1967 - to stop active development of the XJ13 and emphasis switched to a V12 engine for the future lineup of road cars.
It is interesting to see what might have been if a 3-litre version of the XJ13 had been developed. Would it have been along the lines of one of Malcolm Sayer's drawings from around that time?
3 litre successor to the XJ13?