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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1976
Predecessor:Jaguar E-Type V12 Group 44
Successor:Jaguar XJ-S Group 44
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 10, 2020
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Click here to download printer friendly versionRacing under the Group 44 banner, Bob Tullius was the proud proponent of British Leyland in the United States. In the mid 1970s, he fielded a V12-engined E-Type in the popular Trans-Am championship. After production ended in 1974, the E-Type was then duly replaced by Tullius with the new XJ-S halfway through the 1976 season. This allowed him to continue racing Jaguar's mighty V12 engine.

While Group 44 was an independent effort, Jaguar supplied an acid-dipped shell directly to Tullius. It was built up as a competition car by Group 44's Brian Fuerstenau and Lawton Foushee. Carried over from the E-Type was the big V12 engine that was based on the production unit. Equipped with six twin-choke Weber carburettors, it produced a hefty 465 bhp. To keep the powerful XJ-S on the road, the Group 44 was fitted with wider tyres and bigger brakes.

Liveried in the subtle but instantly recognisable Quaker State colours, the new XJ-S made its debut in the 1976 Trans-Am race at Mosport. Tullius drove it to a tenth place finish after starting 11th. By October of that year, the XJ-S was fast enough to qualify on pole but it suffered from teething reliability issues. In addition to the Trans-Am races, Tullius also raced the car in the IMSA finale at Daytona but again failed to finish.

Ahead of its first full season, the XJ-S Trans-Am's bugs had mostly been ironed out. Fielded in 'Category I', the XJ-S scored its first class win at round one, held on the Seattle International Raceway. At the next nine Trans-Am races, Tullius would win his class a further four times. This was sufficient for Tullius to be crowned the driver's champion. Sadly, Jaguar missed on the constructor's trophy by just two points.

Annoyed by the fact that the 1977 Trans-Am was dominated by European cars, the SCCA changed the regulations to better suit the new Corvettes from the 1978 onwards. Tullius responded by building a brand new XJ-S that was faster still. This spelled the end of the contemporary racing career of Group 44's first XJ-S.

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  Article Image gallery (16) 001 Specifications