Jaguar’s mid-engined ’60s dream that never saw a track day might stand a chance to burn its own rubber, thanks to a Scottish racing team.
Jaguar had considerable success at Le Mans in the 1950s with the D-Type, only to be supplanted by the titanic struggle between Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II in the 1960s. Peering through the smoke of that rivalry, Jaguar’s William Heynes considered rejoining the fray, and commissioned the construction of the mid-engine XJ13 racer.
The original XJ13 racer housed a quad-cam 5.0-liter V-12 underneath an achingly beautiful body styled by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer, and just one prototype was built by Jaguar. Unfortunately, the project never really had the backing of Jaguar executives, and when the brand was merged into the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1966, the XJ13 project died without the car ever touching tires to track.
The Ecurie Ecosse team won Le Mans with the D-Type in the 1950s, and since the team’s revival in 1982, has enjoyed some success in endurance racing. Now, Ecurie Ecosse is teaming up with Building The Legend and Design Q to bring the XJ13 to reality with 25 road-legal but track-capable replicas.
New race cars need development, so had Jaguar continued with the XJ13 program, Ecurie Ecosse or some other racing team would likely have spent a couple of years shaking down the race car in preparation for the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans. As a “what-if?” tribute, Ecurie Ecosse is calling the recreated car the LM69.
The LM69 won’t be an exact 1:1 replica, though it is built to period 1969 FIA regulations and period technology. The body is said to be inspired by the original, but the LM69 is lighter, with wider wheels and modern tires, and equipped with what Ecurie Ecosse says is a much improved V-12 engine (though no specifications have yet been released). Fun fact: The original XJ13’s twelve was essentially cobbled together from two of Jaguar’s venerable XK inline-sixes.
As mentioned, just 25 examples will be made, conforming to period homologation regulations and hand-built in the UK’s West Midlands.
The Ecurie Ecosse LM69 will be officially revealed in September in London at the International Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, London.