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Impressions Jaguar XJ 13: The Le Mans legend lives on

Dino Eisele
Impressions Jaguar XJ 13
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' You can keep your shoes on. ' Horst Koch, owner of the racing green Jaguar XJ 13, gives object lessons for getting into one of the hottest racing legends of the late sixties: stalk over the huge side skirts of the aluminum monocoque, then stand on the driver's seat, then push your knees through and gradually down into the shaft slide on the wooden steering wheel. That fits.

Flip the main power switch, then activate the two fuel pumps. Tick, tick, tick. The fuel system is now under pressure. Let the starter run for a moment, only then switch on the ignition. The noise tearing at the eardrum, which then reaches the ears of the driver and audience, sounds like a roaring, sneezing saber-toothed tiger that doesn't even hold up its paw. Every combustion cycle throws out the clear message: 500 hp are currently running warm here.

The racer cannot go slowly

The first gear of the closely spaced five-speed racing transmission clicks into place, then the Jaguar XJ 13 rolls off to a slow lap behind the photographer's car. Real racing cars are not built to drive slowly. They clatter, limp, the cooling water temperatures are far too high, and nothing fits. The sheer agony. As soon as the photographer turns towards Parc fermé, the flat Spyder behaves more docile from round to round. The faster it is moved, the better it lies.

Shifting, clutching, steering and braking becomes easier and easier, the more the driver trusts himself on the tight handling course. The gears snap English-bony after short shifts, the steering is becoming more and more sensitive, and the roaring V12 in the driver's neck develops a powerful punch from around 2,000 rpm.

Jaguar XJ 13 lives on as a replica

The Jaguar XJ 13 is considered to be the ultimate hip flask with which Jaguar wants to once again reach for the Le Mans winning laurel in 1966. Its V12 engine has a displacement of five liters and two overhead camshafts per cylinder bank. But the competition from Ford, Ferrari and Porsche is discouraged and the Le Mans project is stopped. And when the Jaguar XJ 13 came under chief testers in 1971Norman Dewis had an accident on the Mira test track, the project was quiet. In 1973 Jaguar made a replica of the classy racer.

Small series manufacturers follow the technical model. The best replica, say experts, is made by Proteus. It costs 444,000 euros and there is one at Koch Classic. This is the right tool for the Brazzel Day of the Technology Museum in Speyer, which is celebrated by director Hermann Layher. Brazzel day? Quite simply: Everything that has an engine and is loud is used here. With the Jaguar XJ 13, the Le Mans feeling of the sixties came back to the track fortunately without any damage.


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