Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
VELOCIPEDE

Project CARS 2: JAGUAR E-TYPE V12 GROUP44

Recommended Posts

VELOCIPEDE
With Jaguar E-Types sitting unsold and unloved at dealerships and docks in the US by the mid-’70s, British Leyland US needed to come up with a plan of action. It was the start of a racing campaign that would end in total victory at Le Mans a decade later. But before that, there was the epic Bob Tillius, Group 44 E-Type Jaguar that started it all—and it’s coming to Project CARS 2 in all its V12 goodness 
Picture
 
In February 1975, William Jeanes, in a piece for Car & Driver Magazine entitled “Demise of the Cat”, wrote about two Jaguars that were scheduled to appear at the SCCA National Championship production class race at Road Atlanta.

The two Jaguars had been prepared by two US racing outfits—one on the West Coast, and one on the East. The Jaguars were Series 3 E-type V12s, though pretty much stripped bare, leaving behind pure-bred racing roadsters that looked as menacing as they sounded from two massive side pipes.

The two Jaguars began the race on the front row, with the Bob Tillius, Group 44-prepped white Jag on pole, and the Joe Huffaker-prepped grey Jag—with a then young-gun named Lee Mueller doing the wheelwork—in second place. 
Picture
 
The Huffaker Cat lasted only a few laps before falling out with a shorn left-front tyre; that left the Bob Tillius Group 44 leading the race in front of a large contingent of British Leyland execs (then owners of Jaguar) who had come to watch the result of their new marketing campaign (and a fistful of their US dollars).

The Tillius Jag, as quick as it looked and sounded, couldn’t quite shake off a blue Corvette driven by Bill Jobe, winner of the 1971 and ’72 SCCA National Championship with his “Supernova” Corvette, and when, on lap 18, the Group 44 Cat started experiencing brake issues, veteran Jobe was on hand to force his way through to seize a lead he’d never relinquish.

Back at the Leyland motorhome, a box that held “Bob” and “Lee” tickets was disconsolately thrown away. 
Picture
 
“All one needed to do,” Jeanes wrote for that article in Car & Driver, “was select a ticket for the appropriate Jaguar, place it in the box, and have it drawn after the race. Unfortunately, there had been no tickets labelled ‘Bill’, so no one won the $50. But don’t bet that ticket box won’t be back next year.”

Jeanes’s words would prove prophetic; not only would Bob and Lee be back, they’d be back with the kind of racing dominance rarely seen in SCCA Production B class racing. 
Picture
 
A tale of 2 Cats

In February 1974, the Jaguar E-Type was in its 13th year of production. When it had been released in March of 1961, the E-Type—built around the Le Mans winning D-Type—was heralded for both its design and performance. That you could buy one for about $5,000 made it the most affordable sportscar of its era, and also one of the quickest.

With its monocoque chassis, engine bolted onto the chassis itself, disc brakes, independent front and rear suspension, and motorsport legacy (Jaguar in 1961 was less than a decade on from Le Mans domination), the E-Type’s performance was nothing short of sensational. In 1961, the E-Type could get to 100kmh in under 7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 240kmh.

And then there was the little matter of how it looked. At the time, Enzo Ferrari called it, “the most beautiful car in the world”. Time hasn’t done much to change that opinion: countless top 100 lists of best sportscars and most beautiful car lists ever since have the Jaguar E-Type at the very summit. 
Picture
 
By 1971, though, the E-Type was ageing, and to spice things up, Leyland gave the E-Type a new series—Series 3 which, along with some minor cosmetic changes, also got a significant upgrade in the engine department; gone was the 4.2-litre XK I6, and in came Jaguar’s meaty V12, a race-bred lump originally conceived for Le Mans.  

The Series 3, though, didn’t help much when it came to shifting Jaguars in the lucrative US market and by the mid-’70s, the E-Type cut a forlorn figure. In the US in particular, the 15-year-old design was now seen as stale, and sales had all but dried up. 
Picture
 
With countless E-Types sitting in warehouses and ports throughout the US, unclaimed, Leyland needed a solution. That solution was the time-honored tradition of sexing-up a tired brand by stripping it off and getting all racy.

Leyland chose two well-established outfits to race the Series 3 Jaguars in the US: Bob Tullius—who’d made a name for himself and his Group 44 shop running a Triumph TR6—would enter the East Coast-based SCCA production-car events, and Huffaker Engineering would take on West Coast duties. The SCCA production class, back then, was a true showcase of performance you could buy for the street; dominance in that series, Leyland figured, would translate nicely to sales.
Picture
 
With countless E-Types sitting in warehouses and ports throughout the US, unclaimed, Leyland needed a solution. That solution was the time-honored tradition of sexing-up a tired brand by stripping it off and getting all racy.

Leyland chose two well-established outfits to race the Series 3 Jaguars in the US: Bob Tullius—who’d made a name for himself and his Group 44 shop running a Triumph TR6—would enter the East Coast-based SCCA production-car events, and Huffaker Engineering would take on West Coast duties. The SCCA production class, back then, was a true showcase of performance you could buy for the street; dominance in that series, Leyland figured, would translate nicely to sales.
Picture
 
The two cars were ready at the tail-end of the 1974 season; on debut, the Group 44 Jaguar won at the Glen, while Huffaker’s Jaguar, with Lee Mueller doing the driving, won in Seattle on the same weekend.

The Tillius Group 44—which is coming to Project CARS 2—would go on to win another five races that season, with the Huffaker car taking two more on the West Coast.

For 1975, the Jaguar, particularly the Group 44, was untouchable; seven wins propelled Tillius to the SCCA National Championship, and the Group 44 Jaguar’s score made for some impressive stats—17 races entered, 12 won. On the few occasions when the two Jags met, it was the Group 44 that came out the winner every time.
Picture
 
The V12 Jags lasted just that one season; for 1976, Tillius would switch over to the XJ-S Jaguar program when Jaguar selected Group 44 as their US-based motorsport arm at the same time as the company was nationalized in the UK.  

And what happened to the Series 3 Jaguar E-Type sales? Not only did they sell out, but the Jaguar V12 became the engine to have in your sportscar by the mid-1970s.

For Jaguar it was not only mission accomplished, but the first step to endurance racing glory that would come in 1988. (You can read about that, and the Project CARS 2-bound Jaguar XJR-9 LM  here.) And it all began back in 1974 with the Group 44 3 Series E-Type V12 coming to Project CARS 2. 
The Series 3 Group 44 Jaguar E-Type V12 comes with the Motorsport Pack. Pre-order now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.