Only 53 Jaguar XJR-15s Were Built And Most Of Them Were At This Track Day
Photography by Kyle Johnston
Everyone thinks the car they have is special. If you go to cars and coffee, there will be someone with the 1-of-1 story, or it was the last one built in a particular era. But what if when your car club met up each time, it represented most of the vehicles ever made? Welcome to a Jaguar XJR-15 track day.
When it comes to legendary Jaguars, few are as rare or as stunning as the XJR-15. These are race cars built for the street, and just barely. It is more creature than it is comfort. Only 53 examples were built between 1990 and 1992, by racing engineer Tony Southgate, and Peter Stevens, the latter would go on to design the McLaren F1.
53 cars. That is a minimal amount of anything, let alone cars. We had a chat with a man who knows just about everything about these fast felines, Matthew Ivanhoe who also runs The Cultivated Collector. A key player in the collector car world, he was responsible today for making sure these cats get used as they were intended.
He tells me one of the great things about this club is that everyone knows each other, and most of them are long term owners. And they are serious gear heads, as you have to be to own one of these automobiles. Matthew likes to refer to them as “a weapons-grade race car.” Keep in mind this was the first car with a carbon tub, two years before the McLaren F1.
It wasn’t all rough and tough, though; it had some options. Buyers could specify a road package that included a five-speed synchromesh transmission (as opposed to the six-speed dog ’box), indicators, a raised ride height, and treaded tires. Indicators and treaded tires – what luxuries! Adding those ‘Rolls-Royce-Esque’ bits did put the price a bit above the already staggering base of about $980,000.
Let’s talk about power. The XJR-15 comes equipped with a V-12, so it’s no wonder the car is properly quick even when compared to today’s high-end performance cars. 0 to 60 mph takes 3.9 seconds to a top speed of 191 mph. Why all this power you ask? The engine is derived from the Le Mans-winning XJR-9 Group C car. It makes sense these guys meet at a race track, not a local coffee shop.
Don’t worry, the XJ5-15 has race pedigree all its own. Back in the day of the first release of the XJR-15, the Jaguar Intercontinental Challenge has conceived: a single-make championship taking place at the Monaco, Silverstone, and Spa-Francorchamps rounds of the 1991 Formula 1 season. The prize was a staggering million-dollars for the winner of the final race. Top names signed up including David Brabham, Juan Fangio II, and Derek Warwick.
There is a funny story about that race. The drivers were plotting to fix the race and split the prize money. Nowadays they call that a regular race in F1. Jaguar caught wind of this and refused to tell the drivers how many laps there were going to be, just that there were at least six. The race was a messy one, and the victor ended up being German Armin Hahne. This race was to be the last time most of these cars saw a track.
Now, these race machines weren’t always as popular as they are now, but they are getting harder to find. In other words, this car club is getting harder and harder to get. This years meet, 2019, was the first gathering that Matthew put together and he managed to get nearly a quarter of all the cars in existence. He feels that “every XJR-15 is important” and every car is special. To give you an idea of the exclusivity, these wild track machines, are rarer than the XJ220, and there are six times as many Ferrari F50s in existence.
And this is what makes this track day one of the most exclusive on the planet. Curious to see more of this race car for the street in action? Check out our film on track day-participant Jas Dhillon here.