Thursday, April 18, 2013

Building the Legend

Recreations of famous cars are not uncommon. Some are more accurate than others, but all of them stem from a desire to own a piece of history. The UK has a number of producers of replica cars that are quite hard to tell apart from the real thing without a close look and some knowledge of the model before you. 

There is one car undergoing a build that will be accurate down to last detail - perhaps more true to the original than the "original" car. The subject of the build is a Jaguar XJ13.

The story of the XJ13 has been extensively documented, but in summary Jaguar determined that a return to LeMans with a top-class prototype car would be in the firm's best interest. The immensely talented Malcolm Sayer was tapped to design the car in 1965. The V12 powered car was developed in fits and starts until it was finally put away for good after it was determined that it would not be competitive without extensive further development. 

 The stunning car remained in Jaguar's storage facilities with occasional runs for publicity. One such run at the MIRA test facility in early 1971 ended with the total destruction of the car in a high speed accident. It was subsequently rebuilt to something close to its original appearance in time for it to be displayed alongside the first of the V12 powered Jaguar E-Types in 1973.   

Neville Swales' quest to build an hyper-accurate recreation began with the discovery and purchase of the only surviving twin cam V12 engine built for the original XJ13. His extensive contacts within the Jaguar organization and his research skills are the foundation for this enormous undertaking. His goal is nothing short of an absolutely perfect copy of the 1966 car. 

Neville is sharing his build with the world in his fascinating web site. He frequently posts photos and stories of the progress of his project along with details uncovered in his ongoing research. I heartily recommend that you visit it often.  

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