Jaguar had masses of success in sportscar racing the late 1980s with its V12-powered XJR-8 and XJR-9. But the follow up, the XJR-11, was not as good, its 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 proving uncompetitive and unreliable.
A lack of reliability isn’t what you want in endurance racing (just ask Toyota), so for the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours Jaguar replaced the V6 with the tried-and-tested 7-litre V12 to create the XJR-12 LM. It worked – not only did it go the distance, but XJR-12s finished first and second at a canter.
But aside from the improved performance and reliability, one of the big benefits was the glorious sound of that V12 motor, as you can hear in this video of one, taken from this year’s Spa Classic.
The crackles! The bangs! There’s something almost musical about a V12, don’t you think? Race cars will probably never sound as good as this again, so it’s great that we can still enjoy them thanks to the thriving historic scene.
This is the exact car that John Nielsen, Price Cobb and Martin Brundle drove to victory at Le Mans in 1990, albeit now fitted with the later 7.4-litre V12, pumping out 750bhp.
The bigger engines were fitted to the XJR-12 for the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours and finished second, third and fourth behind the winning Mazda 787B.