After the high of the D-type cars taking Le Mans wins in the late 50s and the Mk1 and Mk2 scoring Touring Car wins during the early 60s, Jaguar hadn’t really seen a lot of success in motorsport. The E-types, as legendary as they were, had not seen any notable success on the track. This meant that by the early seventies, the company had very little or no presence in racing activities.
This was also the time when most of the British car industry had consolidated itself into the British Leyland Motor Corporation. The company housed the Austin, Land Rover, Leyland, MG, Jaguar, Mini, Morris, Rover and Triumph brands. Consequently, all motorsport activities were brought under one wing; development and management of competition cars were usually contracted out to smaller outfits.
The mid-1970s were the heydey of the World Touring Car Championships. Competitors of Jaguar like Ford and BMW had seen success here and it was a logical progression for Jaguar to try their hand at it too. For the 1976 season, British Leyland contracted James Broad and his tuning and engineering outfit, Broadspeed Engineering, a firm which had seen previous success racing Minis and Ford Capris around Europe. Broad saw potential in Jaguar’s then flagship coupe, the XJ12C. This led to the development of the car you see here – the 1976 Jaguar XJ12C “Broadspeed”, which has popped up at Duncan Hamilton for sale.
For the Jaguar XJ12C “Broadspeed” racing version, the 5.4-litre V12 was dialled up to eleven so that it could put out a massive 560hp. Gigantic AP brakes and special cooling ducts for these were added to all four corners. These were supported by specially cast suspension components to cope with racing loads. The interior was stripped down in typical racing fashion and now featured just one bucket seat, but surprisingly retained its walnut veneer dash and electric windows, making the car weigh in at around 1500kg. The exterior was a big departure from the usually graceful Jaguar designs, thanks to the addition of aggressively flared wheel arches, a wider body, a ducktail spoiler and a front splitter.
Only four examples of this car were ever built and they competed in the 76 & 77 seasons. The cars were blisteringly quick in qualifying, even more so than the highly competent BMW 3.0 CSL Competition, and won the pole on its first outing at Silverstone. Over the course of the race however, the cars were unreliable and plagued by misfortune. This was mainly down to budget cuts and British Leyland’s insistence on using several road car components. Consequently, at the end of two seasons, the cars hadn’t won any events of note, after which, Leyland decided to pull funding for the project. The story of the 1976 Jaguar XJ12C Broadspeed is a clear reflection of the British car industry at the time. By the 70s industrial growth had stagnated in the country. British Leyland was a large unwieldy organisation which eventually found itself under government control, plagued by internally-competing product lines, slow decision making and strong labour unions. Eventually, the company did not survive and by the 90s almost the entirety of the British car industry was under foreign ownership.