Page 1 of 2 Next >> Early in 1982, Tom Walkishaw approached Jaguar's John Egan with the idea of campaigning the most recent Jaguar XJ-S in the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC). The Scotsman had previously successfully prepared and raced cars from the likes of BMW, Rover, Mazda and Ford. Despite being relatively heavy, the XJ-S had caught his eye because it had independent suspension and could run the widest tyres permitted by the regulations.
Although Egan was very eager to get Jaguar back in to racing, he was hesitant at first because an earlier attempt to turn the XJ-S into a competition car had not brought the expected success. He finally did strike a deal to support the Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) effort, establishing a partnership that would last for over a decade. It is believed that one of the reasons for Egan to return to racing was to make Jaguar more attractive for investors to buy it free from then owner British Leyland.
Regulations for the Group A class used from 1982 onwards were relatively tight, which is why Walkinshaw had searched for a suitable base car before starting his work. Another advantage of the XJ-S was its standard fuel-injected V12 engine, which produced around 400 bhp in competition trim. Most of TWR's early modifications focused on adding safety features to the car like a full roll-cage. The suspension was also stiffened and lowered but without altering the geometry. The finishing touch was a set of very wide Dunlop tyres.
Liveried in the red and black colours of principle sponsor Motul, the Group A XJ-S Jaguar debuted at the ETCC season opener at Monza. The Walkinshaw and Chuck Nicholson driven example immediately qualified second on the grid behind the fastest of the BMWs. In the race the gearbox failed resulting in an early retirement. The car was on the pole for the second race but it took until the fifth race of the season before a trouble-free race could be converted into a victory. TWR went on to win three of the final four races but just missed out on the championship. Page 1 of 2 Next >>