Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

We find a former Jaguar race car enjoying an active retirement


WORDS PAUL WAGER

PHOTOGRAPHY GREG EVANS


CLASSIC RACER Round Again

XJ12 RACER

A race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12.


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

One of the most misused words in the classic car world, ‘patina’ has to be right up there alongside ‘provenance’ and ‘originality’. All too often it’s used as a catch-all phrase to dismiss anything from general tattiness to downright decrepitude, but in the case of this XJ racer, it’s spot on: the car bears the battle scars of three decades on track, yet still looks great and is still very much fit for the purpose of going very quickly around a circuit.

As indeed is owner Rick Walker who counts no less than four Jaguar racers and four road cars in his collection, of which the XJ12 you see here has been a part since the late 1990s when it was advertised for sale by classic Jaguar dealer Brian Stevens of Enfield.


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

Rick still has the faded print advert from 1998 which makes for fascinating reading: Stevens was asking £8995 for the race-prepared car which would also have bought you a roadgoing Mk2 3.8 manual or Double-Six, while for £1000 less a Daimler XJ Coupe looks today like an absolute steal. Even more intriguing is the handwritten note to the side, stating boldly: “Rick: no excuse… bargain way to go racing...”

These were the words of Rick’s mate Simon, already a keen Jaguar racer who was clearly keen for Rick to join in the fun in the JEC race series. Peer pressure clearly worked and after viewing the car which had conveniently already been reduced by £1000 a deal was struck and as Rick says, “it was the beginning of a long story.”


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

Previously owned by Jaguar racer Justin Rockett, as acquired, the short-wheelbase 1971 Jaguar XJ6 boasted a restored bodyshell and had already been prepared for racing by Jaguar legend Rob Beere, who had installed and uprated the V12 engine. The advert quotes an optimistic 400bhp, as well as “all the right bits” and the bold claim that the car was “ready to win.” As expected for a car prepared by Rob Beere, the V12 received flowed and ported heads and a baffled sump, although the bottom end remained largely standard, with the transmission being the standard four-speed manual as found in the E-Type. The fully stripped shell sat on uprated suspension using stiffer springs and adjustable dampers, with a set of TWR wheels used for racing.


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

Ready to win or not, Rick’s initial outings with the car didn’t involve racing but a trans-European marathon when he signed himself up for the Nuvolari Rally in Italy. Pausing only to collect an Italian colleague en route to perform co-driving duties, Rick drove the stripped-out Jaguar the 800 miles to join the event at the start in Mantua before competing in the 1000km event and then repeating the journey home. “I was pretty dead after that,” he laughs, recalling the din from the straight-through exhaust and the lack of air conditioning.


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

Amusingly, the V12 was still running the Lucas Opus ignition at the time, although the few breakdowns were sorted at the roadside… including hammering the redhot exhaust back into place at the side of an autostrada and running out of both fuel and oil at the top of a Tuscan mountain. Having cadged a gallon of fuel from a farmer, the V12 was coaxed 50 miles to a petrol station by coasting down the mountain with the engine idling to provide brakes. After this adventure, a couple of Le Mans trips must have seemed like local jaunts, although Rick recalls the Lucas system finally packing up in the middle of France, having burned all the electrodes away from the spark plugs. When a passing British driver stopped to help, Rick remembers being surprised when it turned out to be a familiar face in the shape of Rob Beere. The XJ finally returned to racing in Rick’s hands in 2002, although he recalls that at the time the V12 saloons lacked a suitable series in which to shine. The majority of racers were using six-cylinder Jaguars, whichmeant the V12 cars ended up in the ‘Powered by Jaguar’ class where it was up against more powerful fuel injected and heavily tuned XJ-S V12s as well as sports racers like the Lister Knobbly. That advert might have promised 400bhp, but in reality even the Rob Beere mods don’t liberate more than approximately 340bhp from the V12.


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

That didn’t stop Rick discovering its potential though, the XJ managing a competitive pace with at least one outright win at Snetterton in 2007. That was no doubt helped by swapping from the original Stromberg carbs to a set of SUs from an E-Type, bought from a former E-Type racer. After a couple of years, Rick acquired a part-prepared XJ6 which was duly completed and served as his regular racer for the next 10 years. The XJ12 wasn’t forgotten though and has recently returned to the road as, if not a road car at least a road-legal car.


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

In its current form it gets used for car shows and track days, where Rick reports it’s still great fun, although naturally he’s already spotted areas ripe for improvement. For example, it’s currently running a Facet fuel pump set-up which tends to overwhelm the carbs and would be better operating with a pressure regulator, while the AP brakes originally added to fit under the regulation 15/16-inch wheels are now on the small side. Returning to full race duty would no doubt be a massively costly undertaking, so for now it’s best left as it is. “It does handle nicely, says Rick, “and it’s great fun on the road, but it’s a beast to drive… unless you know how.”


Race-prepped classic 1971 Jaguar XJ12 which comes with a fascinating history and a Rob Beere V12

The XJ in its original six-cylinder form when owned by Justin Rockett

Rick in action in the JEC series at Snetterton Pics: Steve Jone

The story began with this advert from 1998

Article type:
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