Bask in the magnificence of the Jaguar XJ13

In 1964, Jaguar’s engineers were betting big on a new engine developed after nearly a decade of toil. It was a dual overhead cam V12, developed specifically for racing. All they needed for it was a car. Automotive engineer William Haynes had a mid-engined layout in mind. He and his team of engineers set to work at Jaguar’s Coventry facility. Malcolm Slayer’s design was honed on the track by David Hobbs. The XJ13 was born.

We know that Jaguar’s creation was a fast car. Hobbs set a lap record at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) test track which stood for nearly three decades. But fate had other plans for the XJ13. While filming for an advertisement for the V12 E-Type, Norman Dewis drove too fast on a damaged tyre. The tire disintegrated and took the wheel with it. The resulting crash rendered the XJ13 useless. It couldn’t participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The wreckage was later bought by Edward Loades for GBP 1,000. Raymond ‘Lofty’ England recreated the XJ13. It wasn’t an exact reproduction, and the Ford GT40 had already surfaced. That XJ13 stands today in the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, England.

That’s why the car you see here is a replica. Jaguar had only ever built one XJ13, so the car in Gaydon is priceless. But Rod Tempero, an expert craftsman in New Zealand. He restores originals and builds replicas of iconic classics from the 1950s and 60s. Tempero’s detailing and thoughtful, scant modifications make this XJ13 special.

It, too, has a mid-mounted 5.0-litre V12. It makes 500 horsepower and gulps oxygen from twelve velocity stacks. Tempero says it can go 200mph on the right track. Its engine cover is see-through Since it’s built in New Zealand, the Tempero XJ13 is right-hand drive, just like the original. Its gear shifter juts out of the door sill.

On the inside, it gets racing seats and a wooden steering wheel. Tempero used the original drawings to create this machine. Even the windshield has been built using original Triplex moulds. The instrumentation is period correct. It has appeared at the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance and scored first-in-class at the San Diego Jaguar Club Concours. The owner of this beauty must be smug.

This is one of half a dozen replicas of the XJ13. A replica lets you enjoy the visual, aural, and driving experience of the original at a fraction of the cost. Nearly half a million dollars is a hefty tag for a car best enjoyed on a racetrack. But a USD 7 million bid was turned down for the XJ13 which stands at the British Motor Museum. Long live Tempero!