Thursday, 16 July 2015

Group 44 Jaguar XJ-S

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Bob Tullius had vision. A U.S. Air Force veteran who began racing in 1961, he entered Trans Am racing a few years later and went on to become the second most-winning driver ever to compete in the series. Driving under the name of Group 44, the team that he founded, his white-and-green cars were a stalwart of the Trans Am scene through the 1970s and '80s, and are just as visually arresting today as they were in period.

Tullius was approached by Jaguar's VP of Sales in the mid-seventies to develop a racer from the newly-launched XJ-S V12, and by the time the 1977 season rolled around, Group 44 were ready to take their fresh new build in the series' Category I division, with Bob ultimately taking the drivers' championship. The following year they decided to start again, with the aim of building a lighter car; an XJ-S shell was acid-dipped and delivered to Group 44, where they also stuffed in a beefier engine for good measure - the 5.3-litre V12 was shorn of its fuel-injection and treated to six Weber carbs, elevating power to 500bhp. Across the 1978 season this car took seven consecutive victories, the drivers' championship, and the manufacturers' championship too. Its work done, Tullius retired it and mothballed it for thirty-odd years, after which extensive slumbers it found its way back to the UK for recommissioning. It now exists as a noisy and active showpiece; broad, loud, energetic, and concours-pristine. Have you ever seen such an aggressive XJ-S...?

Spotted at FoS 2015 - more pics here.

No comments: