Showpiece of the Week: Group 44 Jaguar XJS

However inevitable Jaguar's move to EV motorsport is, there's no escaping the disappointment from fans of its petrol powered icons. Because even those too young to recall D-Types, E-Types, XKs and XJs in period will have seen them race at historic meetings, looking fantastic and sounding even better. That's before the Le Mans success is considered - Jaguar's history in motorsport is a long and illustrious one, which has earned it a great deal of affection over the years. Regardless of any future success, it's hard to imagine cars like the I-Pace Trophy and the I-Type really capturing the imagination in quite the same way - but maybe that's just us being curmudgeonly old farts.

Whatever the truth of the matter, for now the old racing cars excite PH rather more than the new ones. And even with a spectacular back catalogue to choose from, this Group 44 XJS stands proud as something of a forgotten 70s success story.

Campaigned by Bob Tullius in Trans-Am, the XJS had become so unpopular with organisers - who wanted to see American muscle on the top step - that the rules were drastically changed for 1978 to favour the domestic Corvettes. That didn't work either, as the upgrades made to the XJS for that year allowed it to take eight wins after a slow start. It remains one of the most successful Jag racers in history.

This XJS, offered at Woodham Mortimer, is sadly not the iconic '78 car; it is a genuine Group 44 vehicle though, constructed in 1976. It still has a V12, it still has around 500hp, it's still very competitive (see the videos below) and it still looks absolutely sensational.

It's taken a fair while, but the XJS is now being appreciated as something more attractive than originally thought. Well, in its earlier forms at least, the later cars were rather sullied by unnecessary embellishment - a tradition Jaguar has seemingly carried into the F-Type. This Trans-Am XJS, though, must surely have always been regarded as a genuine stunner: low, wide and mean, with minimal bodywork to distract from the hulking muscle underneath. You thought Capris from the 70s looked cool...

Furthermore, while this XJS could not really be considered as one of Jaguar's motorsport icons - a race history in America and a more successful sister car see to that - that does at least mean it's one of the more affordable. All things being relative and that. The Β£16m D-Type became a reality a couple of years ago, the XJ220C was expected to make Β£2m at Bonhams' recent sale and an auction at this year's Goodwood Revival saw an XK120 estimated at between Β£500,000 and Β£600,000. So the Β£270,000 being asked for this XJS (and now under offer, in fact), while undoubtedly a lot of money, doesn't look daft in the context of others.

The result of that, as is always the way with these motorsport prospects, is that the more attainable a racer is, the more it can be driven as intended. Those who can view a quarter of a million as attainable certainly aren't to be found working at PH, but we'd still like to think that - no matter how rich you are - rubbing being racing is far easier to embrace when the car isn't worth millions.

What racing it might be, too. Honking V12 up front, you in control with a stick, three pedals and a wheel in the middle, power going to enormous rear tyres. No intervention, nannying control or unnecessary overlords; you don't need us to tell you how appealing that sounds in the modern motorsport context, especially in a field of similarly configured touring cars.

Hopefully whoever has the Trans-Am XJS under offer will continue to race and - you would assume, at least - enjoy it, embracing a simpler time for 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday'. 40 years old this particular XJS may now be, but if anything it looks more appealing than ever.

See the original advert here.




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Comments (4) Join the discussion on the forum

  • skylarking808 10 Dec 2018

    That engine bay looks quite tidy compared to a standard V12 !

    Bet it sounds great when moving.

  • ArmouredBiscuit 10 Dec 2018

    That XJS is as old as me.

    Unlike me, it's kept its performance and looks good.

  • Halmyre 10 Dec 2018

    Interestingly, the blurb here:

    appears to have been partly copied from here:

    but the engine has magically changed from a SOHC to a DOHC - and Jaguar never built a DOHC production V12.

  • pSyCoSiS 10 Dec 2018

    What a machine.

    Love the width of those rear tyres.

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