The ex-Walkinshaw Racing, Spa 1000km wining 1987 Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-8 Endurance Racing Group C Coupé Chassis no. XJR8/3.87
One of the most charismatic of all modern classic 'sports-prototype' racing Coupes, the Tom Walkinshaw Racing series of rear-engined 'Big Cat' Jaguar XJR Coupes achieved tremendous success in Group C World Endurance Championship racing through the late-1980s/early-1990s. Not only did these sophisticated carbon-composite chassised projectiles add two further great victories in the prestigious Le Mans 24-Hours race to Jaguar's noble record at that venue, but they also brought to Britain three World Championship titles in 1987, 1988 and 1991.
This particular car, XJR-8 chassis '3.87', is offered for sale here direct from one long-term ownership in which it has been impeccably well preserved and recently revived to full running order, the work being undertaken by the experienced Swiss Group C technicians Marcus and Benjamin Hotz of HoragHotz Racing AG, Sulgen.
The present vendor explains that he competed against the Tom Walkinshaw Racing Jaguar XJRs at Le Mans in 1986, driving his Porsche 936C, and that "...at this time I took a fancy to the Jaguar. Later I was able to purchase one of the four cars...for me one of the most beautiful Group C designs". Subsequent to his purchase, two test drives were conducted with TWR works team drivers, both Andy Wallace and Tom Walkinshaw himself handling the car at Dijon and at Silverstone. Thereafter the car has been preserved for many years in controlled-atmosphere garaging, and as recently as July 2012 it was described by Benjamin Hotz as being "in good condition and is functioning without any problems whatsoever".
The TWR Jaguar XJR-8 design centred upon an extremely strong yet ultra-lightweight carbon-composite moulded chassis tub designed by the great Tony Southgate, one of the most capable and versatile racing car designers of the entire postwar period. He served as TWR's Chief Designer from 1985-89 inclusive, while the production-derived Jaguar V12 engines installed in these chassis were developed progressively by a team under Alan Scott. The power units were built from part-machined V12 blocks combined with in-house/sub-contract fabricated components supplied mainly by Cosworth Engineering.
The initial TWR Jaguar XJR-6 Coupe emerged for Group C racing in 1985-86, initially powered by a 6.2-litre V12 engine, later enlarged to 6.5 litres. For 1986 major commercial team sponsorship was provided by the Silk Cut cigarette brand and on May 5, 1986, the team achieved its first World Endurance Championship round win with victory in the Silverstone 1,000Kms with an XJR-6 co-driven by Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever.
The further developed TWR Jaguar XJR-8 model as offered here was then produced for 1987 Group C competition. It used essentially the same basic monocoque structure as the preceding XJR-6 and in fact some of the old tubs were renumbered as the basis of new cars. However, the XJR-8 specification featured numerous detail changes and the V12 engine had been further enlarged to a full 7-litres capacity. Using a longer-stroke crankshaft with engine dimensions increased to 94mm stroke x 84mm stroke in place of the preceding 78mm stroke, the new season's V12 engines displaced 6995cc. This provided important additional torque which in turn permitted fewer gear-changes and therefore a useful improvement in fuel consumption. While the new engine provided only some 15/20bhp extra at the top end of its rev range, it provided as much as 45bhp improvement in mid-range. No fewer than 64 major and minor changes to the complete chassis/engine/aerodynamic package and a new Kevlar-carcase Dunlop Racing tyre were key to the TWR Jaguar's tremendous success. Regular team drivers for the year were Raoul Boesel, Eddie Cheever, John Nielsen, Martin Brundle, Jan Lammers and John Watson, joined on occasion by freelancers Win Percy and Johnny Dumfries.
The new Silk Cut TWR Jaguar XJR-8s achieved first-time victory upon their debut in the Jarama 360Kms race in Spain on March 22, 1987, co-driven by John Watson/Jan Lammers. The season was completed with Tom Walkinshaw Racing's Silk Cut Jaguars winning no fewer than eight of their ten World Championship-qualifying races. Five victories brought Brazilian team member Raoul Boesel the World Drivers' Championship title while TWR Jaguar won the World Teams Championship.
Jaguar XJR-8 chassis '3.87' is recorded as having been the long-tailed Le Mans variant driven by Cheever/Boesel/Lammers to finish fifth in the 1987 24-Hour classic, and is also listed subsequently as having been the winning car in the Spa-Francorchamps 1,000Kms, co-driven by Brundle/Dumfries/Boesel. The car as offered here is understood to have been totally reconstructed by TWR at Kidlington prior to its purchase by the present vendor who is of course its first owner ex-works and this mouth-watering example of Jaguar's Group C finest from the mid-1980s is certain to attract tremendous interest from both contemplative collectors and Historic Group C racing interests.
In effect it has not turned a wheel in anger since 1991 and it is a lovely and unspoiled example of the World Championship modern-era breed of 'Big Cat'.
Should the vehicle remain in the UK, local import taxes of 5% will be applied to the purchase price.