Jaguar’s stillborn XJ13 race car is one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in motorsport history. The stunningly beautiful Ecurie Ecosse LM69 shows what could have been.
In the mid-Sixties, Jaguar resolved to go back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a car capable of winning the great race, adding to its tally of five victories racked up during the Fifties. The XJ13 carried those hopes. It featured an advanced chassis with a monstrous 5.0-litre V12 mounted amidships, wrapped in a drop-dead gorgeous body. All the ingredients were there for the XJ13 to be a real contender.
But it was not to be. A big testing crash, internal politics and rule changes led to the project being cancelled before the XJ13 hit the tracks. It was stashed away in a corner of the workshop where it languished for decades.
It has often been wondered what the XJ13 could have achieved if it had raced and the Ecurie Ecosse LM69 offers a hypothesis.
Scottish race team Ecurie Ecosse gave Jaguar two of its Le Mans wins in ’56 and ’57. What if the squad had done a deal with Jaguar to acquire the XJ13 and set about redeveloping it for a tilt at Le Mans in 1969?
That train of thought led the modern reincarnation of Ecurie Ecosse to create the LM69. It’s based on the same structure as the XJ13, but adds a jaw-dropping coupe body with advanced-for-’69 aero.
The heart of the beast remains Jaguar’s brilliant quad-cam V12 engine, described as “much-improved.” We can safely interpret that as “massively powerful.”
Extensive use of composite materials make the LM69 lighter than the XJ13. Ecurie Ecosse hasn’t detailed the suspension and brakes other than pointing out a set of enormous wheels and tires. Whatever its make-up, though, this is a car that will take serious commitment to drive at any speed.
Ecurie Ecosse has worked with consultancy Design Q and award-winning XJ13 replica maker Building The Legend to create the LM69. Just 25 will be made in line with period race car homologation rules, hand-built to the buyer’s exact specs. It’s fully road-legal, too, but there’s no word on whether the FIA will accept it for historic racing.
We think it would be an injustice if the LM69 isn’t allowed to race. And it does have us wondering if there are any other race cars that never really got off the drawing board that could be revived like this.
By Graham King