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Oh good grief, someone’s actually selling an XJR-15

Based on a Le Mans-winning racer and louder than the rapture piped through a Marshall stack. You want it

Published: 20 Jan 2022

This, dear friends, is a Jaguar XJR-15 race car. Not that ‘race car for the road’ spiel that used to get trotted out any time a car had more performance than a moped, but a genuine, bona fide race car that you’re somehow allowed to register and drive on the road. It’s also painfully rare – just 53 cars were built, and about half that number were ever given the necessary bits to pass what must have been the biggest sweetheart deal in homologation history. And that’s saying something.

Of course, rare race cars are... well, rarely what you’d call cheap. Tiff Needell – he of Top, Fifth and presumably a wide variety of other Gears – absolutely wrestled the XJR-15 around Silverstone for old, old TG TV, back in the very early Nineties, just before Jaguar put it on sale for £500,000. In modern money, that’s roughly £1,100,000. Not exactly giving them away, then.

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So, then. Does that make today’s asking price of £1,450,000 via RM Sotheby's private sale any less doolally? Er, no. The best part of one and a half million pounds is still a colossal amount of coin, regardless of the XJR-15’s provenance, painful rarity or prodigious performance. That said, aside from a wonderful excuse for an excursion into alliteration, the XJR-15 absolutely delivers on all of it.

The shell, for instance, is the same carbon tub from the Le Mans-winning XJR-9, clothed in unique carbon-fibre bodywork by the man who went on to pen the McLaren F1 (Peter Stevens). The Jag beat the McLaren to the punch, too – the XJR-15 was the first all-carbon-fibre road car.

The V12 is also from the XJR-9, albeit shrunk by a litre and detuned to the point where you don’t need a pit crew to drive one. Official power output is 450bhp from six litres; what that rather normal-looking number doesn’t reveal is the always-on torque of the thing, pulling from way down the rev range all the way to the 6,200rpm redline, and the effect that has on a 1,050kg car. What it does reveal, on the other hand, is just how blasé we are about power figures these days. The XJR-15 also has something of a party piece: a light-aircraft-spec headset so you can have a conversation with your passenger. As one owner put it, without the headset, he can’t even hear himself talk, let alone his passenger. Because race car.

So, the XJR-15 is properly gorgeous, dripping with pedigree and imbued with the kind of laser-focus that generally requires as a fistful of Ritalin. Also, it must be said, with similarly twitchy results.

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This one in particular has done just 1,362 miles since new, precisely 2,000 miles less than the race-winning distance of the XJR-9 at Le Mans in 1988.

So this is our plea to the new owner: please use the XJR-15 as it was intended. Because this, dear friend, is a race car.

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