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Jaguar XJ13 set to run at Le Mans Classic

The one-off XJ13, Jaguar’s prototype Le Mans car from 1966 that never raced, is set to run at this weekend’s Le Mans Classic event

Jaguar Classic is planning a number of special features at this weekend’s Le Mans Classic, with the legendary 1966 XJ13 set to take the centre stage in a parade of 100 classic Le Mans racers.

The XJ13 is a legend of Le Mans that sadly never raced. Designed and built in 1966 to go up against the Ford GT40s and Ferrari P4s at Le Mans, the mid-engined V12-powered XJ13 was developed to continue where the D-type left off ten years earlier. After the FIA changed the rules for the 1968 season, the project was abandoned resulting in one of the most beautiful racing cars never to race.

Perhaps it was the racer’s unlucky number, but its story didn’t end there. When the company was about to launch its new road-going V12 engine in the XJ and E-type in 1971, the XJ13 was pulled out for some publicity filming at the MIRA banked test track. With seasoned test and development driver Norman Dewis at the wheel, the final fast run of the day ended in disaster after the right hand rear wheel collapsed. The car veered down the banking, spearing into the grass and flipping end over end twice, flipped a further two times and landed the right way up, Dewis seemingly unharmed aside from a few cuts and bruises.

The car was comprehensively rebuilt in 1973, with almost every panel replaced. Over the years it has been displayed at various events.

Jaguar will have a large presence at this year’s Le Mans Classic, with 65 models competing across the five classes of the Classic Jaguar Challenge.

Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director, said: ‘Seeing the Jaguar XJ13 finally on track at Le Mans is going to be a real privilege for me and for everyone in the Jaguar Classic team. We have such an incredible history at this circuit, and it’s just a shame that the XJ13 never had the opportunity to write its own chapter there in period. No celebration of Jaguar’s heritage would be complete without the XJ13 and we’re incredibly excited about hearing that incredible mid-mounted V12 flat-out on the Mulsanne straight.’

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