Jim Randle, the former director of product engineering at Jaguar, best known for helping save the marque in the British Leyland era and bringing the XJ220 into existence, has died aged 81.
Originally an apprentice at Rover, Randle worked on the development of the P6 2000TC before moving to Jaguar, where he was quickly promoted to head of vehicle development. The XJ-S was his first project, but it would be the XJ40 – a symbol of Jaguar’s John Egan-secured independence from British Leyland – that would make his name.
Randle also masterminded the socalled ‘J-gate’ on the automatic versions, making individual ratios selectable in a separate plane on the opposite side to the traditional automatic ratios to maintain a sense of sportiness, resulting in the nickname ‘Randle’s Handle’. In the late Eighties, keen to translate Jaguar’s Le Mans prowess into a road car, Randle set up the ‘Saturday Club’ of off-duty engineers, who devised the XJ220, ahead of the project being taken on by TWR, which reworked it around Group C race regulations.
Jaguar’s purchase by Ford, and the cost-cutting approach of the American company, led Randle to leave the firm in the early Nineties, along with several other notable engineers. In his later career, Randle concentrated on engine development, pioneering petrol-electric hybrids, designed the Morgan Aero 8 chassis, and became a professor at the Automotive Engineering faculty of Birmingham University.