A return to the top step of the podium at Le Mans; that was Jaguar 's goal in the 1960s after five victories in the seven editions held between 1951 and 1957. And this dream was fuelled by the ongoing regulatory changes of the time, which gave new life to the British company's project, or rather, part of it.

Indeed, a secret team of engineers worked on the XJ13, designed for the world's most famous endurance race, in opposition to Sir William Lyon, the marque's founder who was deeply opposed to its creation. In fact, these internal dynamics slowed the project down to such an extent that, when it made its track debut, the regulations were changed again, effectively preventing the XJ13 from fulfilling its dream.

A 'cursed' history

The maximum cubic capacity limit of 3,000cc for prototype cars meant that the colossal 5-litre V8 engine being studied by the British team had its wings clipped. However, the XJ13 was not completely abandoned, but was still used for various promotional and publicity purposes, although its history was decidedly eventful.

Jaguar XJ13 Concept

Jaguar XJ13 Concept

In 1971, during a film shoot, one of the alloy rims suddenly gave way, causing a fairly serious accident, but with no consequences for the driver. In a subsequent incident, the engine was damaged by prolonged over-revving. Finally, in 2004, while being unloaded from a lorry in Copenhagen, the car collided violently with the pavement, causing extensive damage, particularly to the engine block.

Jaguar then embarked on a lengthy restoration process, replacing and rebuilding numerous components, including the clutch and bodywork.

The V12

Technically, the XJ13 was powered by a 4994cc V12 engine. This was the first all-new engine produced by Jaguar since the launch of the six-cylinder XK in 1948. The engine had dual overhead camshaft timing, with two valves per cylinder. Capable of producing 502 PS at 7,600 rpm, the engine was mated to a 5-speed ZF gearbox.

Jaguar XJ13 Concept

Jaguar XJ13 Concept, the V12

After the project was abandoned, the engine was modified for road use, with the bore increased to 90 mm and a single camshaft per bank.

The XJ13 chassis was an aluminium monocoque designed by Derrik White and built by specialists Abbey Panels. The layout of the V12 engine was central/rear and the suspension was independent on both axles. The body, designed by Malcolm Sayer, was in aluminium.

Gallery: Jaguar XJ13 Concept