New LM69 is a vision of how Jaguar’s XJ13 might have evolved by the end of the ’60s. Photography Fergusson Photography.
With the unique Jaguar XJ13 thought to be high on Jaguar Land Rover’s list of continuation prospects, it appears to have been beaten to the punch by a small team with a resonant name – Ecurie Ecosse has revealed the details of its new, road-legal LM69.
The car derives its designation from an imaginary scenario in which members of David Murray’s racing stable visited Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory in 1967, spotted the abandoned XJ13 and discussed reviving it for a privateer assault on Le Mans in 1969. In the story, the company would revisit its successes of the previous decade when it won Le Mans twice with Jaguars, piloted by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson in 1956 and Flockhart and Ivor Bueb the following year.
Of course, the original Ecurie Ecosse foundered at the end of the 1960s but has been revived since and this project involves Hugh McCaig, who has been keeping the flame alive since the 1980s via his racing equipe. Crucially, the team is led by Neville Swales, who is the mastermind behind Building the Legend, an exemplary XJ13 replica said to be identical to the pre-1971 crash XJ13.
The LM69 will be a mid-engined car incorporating the 5.0-litre quad-cam V12, and just 25 examples will be handbuilt in the West Midlands, inline with 1969 homologation requirements. Delivery of customer cars, expected to cost between £800,000 and £1 million, will start in the spring of next year.
Swales said: ‘In 2014, for a very modest bid, I bought Jaguar XJ13 engine number two in Germany and decided to build the car to complement it, the XJ13 not as it is now, but as it left the competitions department in 1966. We have done four more since that first car in 2016.
‘This car, which will be built by Ecurie Cars, is really a development of that. Myself and Howard Guy at Design Q started to think “What if they hadn’t mothballed the XJ13, what if it was taken on and developed by Ecurie Ecosse as it had the C-type and D-type?” And this is the result. It has an aluminium tub and composite panels and is substantially different from both the XJ13 and Building The Legend.
‘Our design and engineering team had to adhere to the regulations of the time, and feature only design details and technology that entered motorsport no later than early 1969.’
In an era when many cars are launched on the basis of fanciful figures and a rendering, the fact that a non-running LM69 has been built should reassure potential buyers. In fact, you can see it for yourselves at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace on 6-8 September (concoursofelegance.co.uk).
Above and below – Look carefully and the LM69 is quite distinct from XJ13; the team behind the new car, from left: James Philpotts, Hugh McCaig, Neville Swales, Howard Guy, Patrick McCallion and Alasdair McCaig.
THE ORIGINAL JAGUAR XJ13
The traumatic life of a unique V12 beauty
Perhaps it is the fact that only one was ever made – and then remade – that lends the Jaguar XJ13 such enduring mystique. Or maybe it is the fact that, despite having all the right qualities on paper, it never served the sole purpose of its existence: to race. That in itself, given the technical advancement of the car, raises a whole heap of ‘what ifs’. Most likely, however, it is simply that it is one of the sleekest, most beautiful cars ever built. And it is British.
Taking six years from Bill Heynes first mooting the subject of a mid-engined racer, the XJ13’s slippery shape was, of course, created by Jaguar legend and aerodynamic guru Malcolm Sayer. Heynes led the small team that created the car before it was tested extensively, primarily by British F1 driver David Hobbs, but also by Norman Dewis and also, once, Richard Attwood. It was said to be brilliantly rapid, but the potential cost of development to put it on a par with the Ferraris and the new Ford GT40 was too much for the company following its recent merger with BMC. The XJ13 was shelved… with its most notorious moment still to come.
With Jaguar about to launch the V12-engined Series 3 E-type, its V12 predecessor was brought out of retirement purely for publicity purposes. While making a film of it at the MIRA proving ground in 1971, it crashed heavily and, though driver Dewis walked away unharmed, the same could not be said of the crumpled XJ13. It was later rebuilt by Abbey Panels, but was acknowledged not to be identical to the pre-crash car.