Jaguar XJR7

Jaguar XJR7 by Ted West / photos by Peter Harholdt

by Ted West / photos by Peter Harholdt

The second title in the Stance and Speed Monograph series documents the development and racing history of the Jaguar XJR7 GTP racer. Written by veteran automotive journalist, Ted West and illustrated by Peter Harholdt’s studio photographs, this involving little book tells an interesting story about a beautiful racecar.

Group 44’s Bob Tullius wrote the Foreword and offers an unfiltered insider’s view of the car and the efforts it took to get it on the track. Fascinating.

Ted West expertly weaves the tale by walking the reader through a brief history of Jaguar, providing enough background and contextual details to enable you to understand the importance of the XJR7 to Jaguar’s very existence. From there, he pulls no punches when he describes the dire circumstances the British carmaker found itself in with annual sales of its road cars dropping to fewer than 3,500 units.

Enter Michael Dale, a Brit who came up with the idea to promote and grow the brand by going back to racing. He knew that their cars’ quality was so bad that there was very little he could put in their advertisements that was believable. However, if they raced and won, they could say they were first and therefore the best. As the British love to say, brilliant.

The hook for American readers is that Dale selected USA’s own Bob Tullius and Group 44 to bring Jaguar back into the sport at the highest level – Le Mans. Anyone who has worked in the politics of large corporations will recognize some of the challenges Dale and Tullius faced when they pitched the idea of returning Jaguar to the French endurance classic.

Jaguar XJR7

Supported by outstanding and well-reproduced studio photographs as well as a few period black and white images, West brings the development and technical story to life. Holding back nothing, he relates the challenges Group 44 faced as they took a clean sheet of paper and turned it into a wining racer. He relates their search for more horsepower, having started with an underpowered 5.3-liter V12 from Tullius’ XJS Trans-Am car as they competed in their first race at Road America. Despite the power deficit, they finished third behind two Porsches but ahead of many others. The road to a winning Jaguar lay ahead and Group 44 had the car pointed in the right direction.

This second volume of the Stance and Speed monograph series relates a fascinating history about a beautiful and successful car. As well as telling the reader about what it takes to build a successful racecar, the author also ties in the story about the value that racing successes bring to new car sales and how this very car literally saved the Jaguar corporation.

Once again we say, this book, no, this entire series, belongs on every car enthusiast’s bookshelf.