The Jaguar E-Type has been considered the world's most beautiful car—by a certain Enzo Ferrari, among others. But for many, the XJ13 race car is the Jaguar that's most appealing to the eye.
Sadly, just the one example was built. That was back in 1966, when Jaguar needed a new contender for a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A combination of a lack of funds and rule changes meant the XJ13 never hit the track in 1969 as intended.
Despite never racing, the XJ13 remains an icon of Jaguar’s past, and today it sits in the British Motor Museum. Fortunately for fans, several companies are capable of building replica examples, and one of these was featured in the latest episode of “Jay Leno's Garage.”
The replica belongs to Tyler Schilling and was built by a British firm called Building The Legend. As Schilling points out, his replica more closely resembles the original XJ13 than the actual XJ13 in the British Motor Museum. This is because the original XJ13 was involved in a crash in 1971 and when it was restored, Jaguar revised the design of the fenders, adding some extra flare to cover a set of wider wheels. Schilling's car sticks to the pre-1971 design.
The XJ13 was also famous for being among the first Jaguars fitted with a V-12. Its engine, developed by Claude Baily, was a unique 5.0-liter unit with double overhead cams and a peak output of just over 500 hp. During early testing in 1966, the engine powered the XJ13 around the 2.8-mile banked MIRA test track in the U.K. at an unthinkable 161.6 mph, a record that stood for more than 30 years.
Jaguar's V-12 that eventually went into production in 1971 switched to a simpler single-cam design, and the same is found on Schilling's car whose V-12 displaces 6.4 liters. Incidentally, Building the Legend's first XJ13 replica unveiled in 2016 was powered by one of the three prototype V-12s that Jaguar developed as part of the XJ13 program.
While we can always imagine what the XJ13 might have achieved at Le Mans, replicas like the one owned by Schilling ensure the car doesn't have to remain just a museum piece.