The ten greatest Jaguar race cars ever built
Prepare yourself for the nine greatest racing Jaguars of all time! Ten years ago Jaguar retired from Formula 1, leaving worldwide motorsport indefinitely. Their 50-year legacy of racing remains, populated by some of the best racing machines each era of competition had to offer. Of course Jaguar are most famous for their sportscars – the XJR-9 and D-Type in particular hold special places within the hearts of motorsport fans worldwide. However the reach of the Jaguar marque has, at times, extended beyond Le Mans and Daytona, interacting with Formula 1, touring cars and more.
The Jaguar C-Type won the 24 hours of Le Mans at its first attempt in 1951, and was redeveloped following later reliability issues to take first place in 1953 as well. Driven by Sir Stirling Moss in period and worth millions today, the C-Type is without doubt one of the great Jaguar race cars.
The car didn’t end up on the podium as often as Jaguar might have liked, yet the fact that Jaguar even built and raced fantastic-looking Formula 1 machines from 2000 to 2004 made the headlines. The team went on to become the dominant force of grand prix racing in the shape of Red Bull Racing…
Former Jaguar World Sportscar Championship-winning squad Tom Walkinshaw Racing were commissioned to turn the XJ220 road car – in the early 1990s one of the fastest production cars on sale – into a Le Mans winner. The car won its class in the French endurance classic in 1993, only to be thrown out on a technicality. No matter, it was still cool.
Jaguar E-Type Lightweight
The road-going Jaguar E-Type is one of the most universally loved sports cars has ever built – one once described by Enzo Ferrari no less as the most beautiful ever. Its elegant, slippery shape has aged gracefully, with the race-prepped E-Type Lightweight, of which just a dozen complete examples were built, being a favourite among historic race fans.
The XJR-12 earned its place on the list by winning the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans – its seventh and final victory at La Sarthe. The TWR-built Group C monster packed a 7-litre V12 punch and carried Briton Martin Brundle and team-mates Price Cobb and John Nielsen to a famous win over the sister car of Franz Konrad, Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace.
The Jaguar MK2 was a very popular and successful racing saloon all around the world in the late 1950s and early ’60s. The car pictured above – in a lurid oversteer slide – carried Bob Jane to consecutive Australian Touring Car Championship titles in 1962 and ’63, first with a 3.8-litre lump and then a larger 4.1-litre unit.
Tom Walkinshaw’s XJ-S Jaguars, entered under the Jaguar Racing Australia banner, starred in the 1985 James Hardie 1000, a race now now better known as the Bathurst 1000. Lead drivers John Goss and Armin Hahne took first place on Walkinshaw’s behalf, but the boss himself wasn’t far behind himself – finishing third with Win Percy.
Three consecutive Le Mans 24 hour wins between 1955 and 1957 – one for the factory squad and two for the privateer Ecurie Ecosse team – make the Jaguar D-Type one of the most significant racing cars ever built. The straight-six Jags, with distinctive fintail aerodynamics, still appear in historic racing and change hands for millions of pounds!
The Jaguar XJR-9LM brought the British marque back to the winner’s circle at Le Mans after a 31-year drought. The Tom Walkinshaw Racing-built machine, powered by the thunderous 7-litre V12, ended a seven year rout by Porsche when Johnny Dumfries, Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace triumphed on June 12, 1988 in front of a huge crowd.
The XJR14, delivered Jaguar the drivers and manufacturers’ titles in the 1992 Sportscar World Championship. The car itself was a game changer.”It was, if you like, the first modern sportscar,” says long-time Jaguar driver Martin Brundle. “It was the first prototype I ever drove that, when you turned the steering wheel, the car was willing to go with you.”