This Jaguar XJR-7 is an ’80s IMSA-Racing Gem
This V12-powered XJR-7 prototype stretches its legs in vintage racing.
The most famous Jaguar sports cars have all raced at Le Mans: XK120, D-Type, E-Type, and XJR-9. However, the American-only XJR-7 remains an anomaly, one of few rip-snorting prototypes from the wild 1980s still racing. In that era, early ground effects and big horsepower reigned supreme. Goodwood’s YouTube Channel caught up with this XJR-7, the first of two chassis, at Historic Sportscar Racing’s “The Mitty” vintage race.
The XJR-7 came from Bob Tullius’ Group 44 racing outfit as an improvement of his XJR-5. Tullius campaigned that earlier car with Jaguar backing in IMSA’s GTP class. This allowed him to take Jaguar back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, Jaguar pulled their factory backing of Group 44 before the 1985 season. Faced with the obvious choices of running an old car or switching marques, Tullius took a third option: develop a new XJR himself.
That car, the XJR-7, featured design improvements most notably with aerodynamics and chassis construction. The lightweight Kevlar-reinforced chassis housed a magnesium-alloy Jaguar 6.0-liter V12 that made at least 650 horsepower. Tullius himself debuted the car at the 1985 season-finale 3 Hours of Daytona along with Chip Robinson. The duo finished a respectable fourth place, just two spots behind Hurley Haywood and Brian Redman in Group 44’s older XJR-5.
Faced with a slew of Porsche 962s, the quartet of Group 44 drivers—John Morton replaced Redman in 1987—racked up three wins in two full IMSA seasons. Tullius retired the car after the 1988 24 Hours of Daytona. A factory Jaguar XJR-9 won that race and would go on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, as well.
This XJR-7 has changed hands a couple of times, but it still gets a workout in vintage racing. Like all Jag V12s, it sounds like the apocalypse-harbinger trumpets from the Book of Revelations.