Prototype V12 - Initial Observations - Part Two - Peter Wilson verdict

clock April 28, 2010 08:26 by author Neville |

I was privileged to be visited by Peter Wilson (ex Jaguar Competitions Department) who confirmed the identity of my prototype quad-cam V12 as being the second engine to have been built as part of Jaguar's quest to return to Le Mans with the XJ13.

Peter worked in the Competitions Department for five years up to 1966 and had hands-on involvement in the construction of the XJ13. Although a number of people have since claimed involvement in the project, many did not even set foot in the Competitions Department! - Peter is one of the few surviving members who can claim first-hand participation in the building of the XJ13 Le Mans prototype racer.

Since leaving Jaguar, he has worked in a number of prominent and senior positions in the automotive industry including time spent Brico Engineering, Cummins Diesel Engines and British Leyland. Since his retirement in 1999 he has written the definitive work on the Competitions Department between 1961 and 1966 including not only the XJ13, but a significant era in the racing and development of the E-Type. I can heartily recommend Peter's book "Cat Out of the Bag" which is available from Paul Skilleter books at

Peter Wilson

Peter Wilson - Jaguar Competitions Department 1961-1966 with the second prototype quad-cam V12 engine

Peter is an engaging character with an absolute wealth of information on Jaguar. His straight-forward and no-nonsense account of people, places and the cars kept me absolutely enthralled during his visit. He is a very likeable person with a truly remarkable memory for the detail of past events.

I learnt a lot from Peter about my own engine - in particular:

  • It is without doubt the second engine assembled by Jaguar as part of their "XJ6" (quad-cam Le Mans V12 engine) project
  • It possesses the ultimate development of the quad-cam head (heads nos 18 & 19)
  • The engine was fitted to two Mk10 (XJ5 Project) Cars for continued testing - I guess the XJ13 itself would have attracted too much attention! The engine was removed from the car in 1969 and then stored in the Experimental Department after a short time on the test-bed.
  • The engine appears to have been untouched since being displayed at the Coventry Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in the early 1970s (engine still in the ownership of Jaguar).
  • It is likely the engine was transferred to Jaguar (Germany) for display from where it was eventually sold to a member of the general public around 1980 (the engine was subsequently displayed at the Essen Motorshow in 1998 - see HERE
  • The engine today remains in the same condition as when it was removed from the development test-bed in 1969 (albeit with an external cleanup for display! - the final tests carried out on the engine were to measure exhaust emissions - probably as a comparison with the later SOHC "Heron" V12 project)
  • Although the engine has a wet sump (fitted when installed in the Mk10 project cars), it is a converted original dry sump.
  • Although fitted with 6 x SU carburettors when installed in the Mk10 cars, the engine was initially assembled with Lucas mechanical fuel injection as the XJ13.

Peter is now engaged on writing an account of the XJ13 and we look forward to this latest book. There is so much myth and misinformation about the XJ13 that it will be very valuable to have an account written by someone who was "really there" and at the heart of the XJ13 project. For example, he was able to confirm that the XJ13 cam drive was always by means of duplex chain and certain changes made to the original car during its post-crash rebuild in 1972/73.

For now, Peter's last book, "Cat Out of the Bag" contains a whole chapter on the XJ13 with much previously-unpublished material.

Peter Wilson

Peter Wilson

Neville null Swales

Neville is a long-standing Classic Jaguar enthusiast and racer. Having acquired an original quad-cam prototype V12 engine he now finds himself in the position where he can fulfil a long-held ambition of building and hopefully racing an authentic "toolroom-copy" of the Jaguar XJ13 prototype Le Mans racer - true to Malcolm Sayer's original 1966 vision. View all posts by Neville →

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