It was tough times for British Leyland in the mid seventies. Sales were down, with internal politics causing much grief throughout the company.
An announcement of a full racing program with its Jaguar marque looked the best way forward and could only serve to boost sales.
The car of choice was the Jaguar XJ coupe V12, a car not exactly designed for the track and not helped by it’s size weight and complexity. The man tasked with changing the car from executive express to track day warrior was Ralph Broad and his company Broadspeed. The cars were built from the bare shells up, to Group 2 specification. The engine was a Jaguar 5.3 litre V12 (dry sumped from 1977) with racing pistons although much of the internals remained standard. Fuel was injected through its twelve racing trumpets and gave approximately 600bhp. A standard manual gearbox casing was used with close ratio gears with AP making a special clutch, which could take all the power.
Separate oil coolers for engine, gearbox and axle were needed in order to keep things cool. Custom made wheels and tyres were also produced, and to help bring the weighty beast to a stop (all 1.5 tons of it), Lockheed produced special eight pot callipers for the front whilst the rear used four pot callipers. All of this was wrapped in a wide arched aggressive looking body in the patriotic colours of red, white and blue.
The cars were besieged with problems from the outset with mainly lubrication and drive shaft issues. And despite being driven by the likes of Bell, Hobbs and Schenken the cars never won a race, although more often or not the cars were on put on pole and broke numerous lap records. Sadly, due to the vast costs in trying to get the cars to run reliably, British Leyland decided to pull the plug on the project all too early and with it the full potential on what could have been a championship winning car.