CATS ON THE TRACK ­ Racing Jaguars
by David Cook, images by Doug Breithaupt

1948 XK120 (Alpine Rally) Matchbox

1955 'D' type (Le mans) Matchbox

1957 'D' type (Le Mans) Hot Wheels

1957 'D' type (Le Mans) Tootsietoy

1961 'E' type 3.8 (Le Mans) Zylmex

1964 'E' type 4.2 (Sebring) Yat Ming

1974 'E' type V12 (SCCA) Majorette

The famous Jaguar marque has been known since before WWII for its line of luxury sports cars and sedans. During the 1950's the factory sought to promote it's image by tackling big time racing, including the LeMans 24 Hours. Many small-scale versions of these famous cats exist.

Our first image of this basically stock XK 120 by Matchbox is decked out with rally numbers. Jaguars were a natural for many amateur events with their high-performance engines and chassis. The XK 120 ran at Le Mans up until the 'C' type racing version was produced

Jaguar first attacked LeMans with a 'C' type model (picture these 'D' types without their tail fins), finishing 1st, 2nd & 4th in 1953. In 1954 they unleashed the famous 'D' type, finishing 2nd that year. The 'D' type then won the next three LeMans in a row, really mopping the floor in 1957 by taking 5 of the first 6 positions!

The green 'D' type by Matchbox pictured here is fairly rare in good condition and somewhat expensive. On the other hand, Tootsietoy made about a zillion of their version in a rainbow of colors! Hot Wheels was good enough to issue this beautiful model last year and it's a near-perfect rendition.

The 'E' type or XKE Jag came out in 1961 and raced in many events. The LeMans version finished 4th & 5th there and won it's class. The Zylmex model represents the 3.8 litre series 1 car. The Yatming model shows the larger engined 4.2 litre model while the Majorette model represents the 5.3 litre V12, series III model offered in 1971. The V12 'E' won it's SCCA national class in 1975 under the direction of Bob Tullius' Group 44 racing team.

The XJ12C was raced by Broadspeed for two seasons in the European Touring Car Championship races. It showed great promise but poor reliability, like all Jags of the mid-1970's. It's best finish was a 2nd before the team folded. The Guisval model is quite accurate except for the colors which were red/white and blue. The XJ-S under Group 44 won it's Trans-Am class in 1977 & 1978 racing in the USA. In European Touring Car form, the XJ-S was campaigned by TWR in the early 1980's. The Tomica model is of the European car.

The modern era of factory sponsored racing began in the mid 1980s. In 1987 they won the World Sports Prototype Championship with 8 wins in 10 events. 1988 saw them win the Sports Prototype Championship again, including wins at LeMans AND the Daytona 24 Hours! 1990 brought LeMans and Daytona wins again with a 2nd in the championship. 1991 was the final year of factory support; with 2nd, 3rd & 4th at LeMans and 2 other wins, Jaguar won the World Sportscar Championship for the final time. The beautiful Guisval and Corgi models pictured here complement each other with different paint schemes for the same ultra-successful machine. Notice the skirted rear wheels for improved aerodynamics. The "TWR" logo on the Guisval model stands for Tom Walkinshaw Racing. TW was the boss behind most of Jaguar's modern sports-racing efforts and is the current owner of the Arrows Grand Prix team.

The XJ-220 was Jaguar's version of a modern super car and was successful up to a point. The "R" model pictured here by Matchbox did race at LeMans and a "spec" racing series was put together for this model for a season or so.

With Ford's purchase of Jaguar a few years ago, the factory has shifted its racing emphasis to Formula One. A buy-out of Stewart Grand Prix and the purchase of Cosworth Engineering brought under one roof all of the necessary ingredients one should need for success in this top venue. Unfortunately, that has not been the case so far. Top-heavy management and quick staff turnover have been problems recently. The Hot Wheels F1 Jag pictured here is a fair version (suitable for giving away in Happy Meals!) of an also-ran F1 car. Lets hope for some improvement in this cat before its appearance at the Indy F1 race Sept. 30th.

On a happier note, the XK8R in the final picture here by Hot Wheels is racing successfully in the Trans-Am series in this country. It has recorded two 2nd places in two races so far this season. You can see this cat in action throughout North America this season; check the SCCA website and click on Pro Racing and Trans Am for more information.

1976 XJ12C (European Touring) Guisval

1982 XJ-S (European Touring) Tomica

1990 XJR12 (Daytona) Guisval

1990 XJR12 (Le Mans) Corgi

1992 XJ220R (Le Mans) Matchbox

2000 Jaguar (Formula One) Hot Wheels

2000 XK8R (Trans Am) Hot Wheels