RE: Shapecraft XJ13 | Showpiece of the Week

RE: Shapecraft XJ13 | Showpiece of the Week

Monday 5th August

Shapecraft XJ13 | Showpiece of the Week

One of the most convincing remakes of Jaguar's 1960s Le Mans prototype goes on sale



Jaguar’s stillborn XJ13 racer did not need to prove itself on the track to leave a lasting legacy in the world of motorsport. Having never progressed from the development prototype phase, the sixties machine could have so easily been forgotten, held only in the memories of those who took part in the ambitious project. Yet the V12 classic inspired a number of 12-cylinder Jags and in recent years has even returned to the automotive spotlight thanks to a number of recreations, most of which have stayed as close as possible to the original’s form in order to appease the car’s surprisingly large number of fans.

What has enabled such a relatively insignificant (compared to the highly successful Ford GT40 and Porsche 917, anyway) one-off to garner so much respect over the years? Undoubtedly the car’s beautiful Malcolm Sayer-crafted design will have helped; is there a prettier Le Mans prototype than Jaguar’s low-set, smooth-panelled 13? Best of all, it was very much a case of function rather than form, instructed by intentions for a high La Sarthe top speed, so it’s gorgeous from an engineering point of view, too.


When the first designs were penned in the early sixties, cars were surpassing 190mph along the chicane-free Mulsanne Straight, hence Jaguar’s decision to develop a 5.0-litre V12 with its banks opposed at 60 degrees. It meant the engine – in essence two straight-six XK engines using mechanical injection and sharing a common crankshaft – could be seated close to the ground, midship and beneath a low-set engine cover, pulling the car’s centre of gravity down and reducing the overall surface area.

The structure around the powerplant was cutting edge, too. The XJ13 was built using an aluminium monocoque wrapped in aluminium skin, rivetted in place for structural rigidity. Its sleek design means the 13 can look deceptively large in pictures, but in reality, the body stretched to 4,483mm – just 1mm longer than an F-Type – while the wheelbase, held within those skinny, aero-encouraged overhangs, was only 2,438mm. The prototype was said to have weighed 998kg, but more mass will likely have been shed since, with later development cars due to integrate more exotic materials.

It’s claimed that the one-off 1965 prototype produced about 510hp at 7,600rpm (that sub-one-tonne mass meant it had 511hp per tonne) with 386lb ft at 6,300rpm. Drive was sent rearwards through a five-speed manual gearbox, with cogs to rival the very fastest Le Mans machines of the early to mid-sixties, including the Ferrari’s V12 275 and 250 racers. Jaguar reportedly tested the XJ13 to 161mph, but the project was culled before any more substantial runs were made. The story of the XJ13 essentially ended just as engineers were about to get into the meat of its development.


The reason related to Jaguar’s focus on selling passenger vehicles including the E-Type and then-upcoming XJ6, before investing further in motorsport. But such was the speed of evolution at Le Mans that by the time engineers were free to pick the XJ13 programme back up, it was dated technology – plus, new regulations meant the engine was too large to compete. A lot had changed in the world of sports car racing: Ferrari had since fallen from its pedestal, Ford had begun its dominance with the new GT40 and Porsche’s 917 wasn’t far off, either, leaving Jaguar with a substantial workload to bring the XJ13 up to date. Fate was then particularly cruel to the only prototype XJ13, which crashed during filming to promote the new V12 E-Type in 1971. Test driver Norman Dewis survived despite a tyre blow out at high speed on MIRA’s banked circuit, although the car was destroyed.

Jaguar did go on to repair it, but it’s lived in the firm’s museum since. That means the only way for those not connected with the original XJ13 project to experience it properly, has been to buy a replica or recreation. A surprising number have been produced in the past couple of decades, with the most recent coming from Scotland’s Ecurie Ecosse this year. But today’s Showpiece is a freshly-finished stunner from Shapecraft, which took seven-years to build and has specs pleasingly close to the original’s. Unlike some 13 replicas that have placed a body onto a ladder chassis to reduce costs, the Shapecraft XJ13 uses a monocoque and aluminium body panels, as well as a 360hp Jag 6.0-litre V12. There are modern additions, such as an Audi six-speed gearbox with a Quaife limited-slip differential, servo-assisted brakes and ECU-controlled electronic injection, but the overall ingredients are convincing ones. Naturally, it’s up for £440k, but as far as turn-key XJ13 recreations go, this has to be one of the finest.


Click here for the full ad.


Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

1,002 posts

162 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
In before A1VDY calls it a 'Bolex'... tongue out

andymadmak

10,634 posts

214 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Would anyone like to buy a kidney?

Unsorted

137 posts

6 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
sidesauce said:
In before A1VDY calls it a 'Bolex'... tongue out
Think it might have had a bit of 'sidesauce', in that it is lengthened compared to original (and none the worse for that as easier to get in and out etc)?

Could be wrong though and a lovely thing whatever the case.

dibbers006

7,026 posts

162 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Sex

Esceptico

1,753 posts

53 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
andymadmak said:
Would anyone like to buy a kidney?
I think the going price for a kidney is rather less than the price of this car - you might have to sell off a few more body parts to get closer!

Esceptico

1,753 posts

53 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
The article says there is an aluminium monocoque but the advert says it is steel tubes with aluminium panels.

LotusOmega375D

4,296 posts

97 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Only half the requisite camshafts.

ZX10R NIN

14,808 posts

69 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
That's some proper craftsmanship.

cib24

790 posts

97 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Jaguar really did used to make such beautiful cars.

Edmundo2

802 posts

154 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Yep. Looks like wheel base is too long...? Doesnt seem to share the originals butchness around the rear haunches?

Augustus Windsock

1,739 posts

99 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
I’d buy that kidney! Mine are buggered but I think it would leave you a good piece short of even a deposit on this! (To paraphrase from The Grand Tour, I’m like Prof Steven Hawking, nice chap, quote bright but not much of me works very well)
As an aside, a couple of years ago I saw the late, great Norman Dewis at the NEC Classic Car Show.
As always he was surrounded by an adoring crowd who hung on every word.
When he eventually managed to prise himself free he turned around and quite literally bumped into me
Ever the gentleman, he apologised, and then proceeded to chat to me about his exploits as if it were the first time he had ever recounted them. The enthusiasm of the man was unbelievable and the fire in his eyes unquenchable.
He chatted, for probably the millionth time, about his drive in 77RW to the 1961 Geneva Motor Show and also, albeit briefly, about the XJ13.
A true gentleman and a stunning car...


Rumblestripe

1,190 posts

106 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Is it so wrong that I want to have sex with that car?

ArmouredBiscuit

1,108 posts

178 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Esceptico said:
I think the going price for a kidney is rather less than the price of this car - you might have to sell off a few more body parts to get closer!
Done.

sideways man

683 posts

81 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Just beautiful.

MCBrowncoat

199 posts

90 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
It might be the angle but think it's because it's got too much screen height (probably a safety regulation necessity), makes the body look squished / wheelbase longer




mikey k

12,330 posts

160 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
That is bloody lovely!

RoverP6B

3,891 posts

72 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
Not quite on the level of Neville Swales' forensic recreation but bloody lovely nonetheless. The 5.3/6.0 production V12 has very little in common with the XJ13 motor (which was essentially two 2.4 short-deck XKs), and it's a physically longer unit, which might (along with the Audi gearbox) explain the long wheelbase seen here.

Mothersruin

7,507 posts

43 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
cib24 said:
Jaguar really did used to make such beautiful cars.
Drop dead stunning.

Spitfires of the road, if you know what I mean.

yonex

14,776 posts

112 months

Monday 5th August
quotequote all
More saucy than a direct hit on a Heinz factory.

(C) Blackadder

Vocht

1,357 posts

108 months

Tuesday 6th August
quotequote all
Absolute favourite car of all time cloud9cloud9cloud9