The XJR name was first applied to a ‘sporty’ version of the XJ40 with uprated suspension and steering and a few changes to cabin and body trim. Available as a manual or automatic. The first cars were 3.6 litres with no mechanical changes, but when the 4 litre version was introduced there were significant upgrades to the inlet manifolds and camshafts, along with a tweaked ECU.
With the launch of X300, came the super-charged version of the XJR, also manual or automatic, but Jaguar produced only 267 X300 XJR’s with a manual gearbox, and of these, only 102 were RHD.
The XJR designation then stayed with the XJ for the rest of its life, and was always applied to the most potent version of this model, but from X308 onwards, it was only ever available as an automatic.
The manual X300 XJR is a real ‘drivers car’ and being very rare, they are exceedingly sought after. Those who own them have formed a close knit community, assisting one another in sourcing parts and diagnosing the few problems that do come to light from time to time.
The person who knows most about them is Andy Stodart, an ex-Jaguar engineer who was part of the design team and later went back to Jaguar Heritage to find and list all known VIN’s. Andy was assisted by Rob Jenner, and there is a story for another time which relates to how Rob came to own the very last X300 XJR manual.
Another well-known X300 XJR manual owner is Nigel Webb, who asked me to assist in arranging an X300 XJR Manual Day at the Mike Hawthorn Museum. My first port of call was Andy Stodart who knows more of the owners than anyone else. Due to GDPR Andy sent out an invitation to everyone asking them to contact me if they wished to be included in the event.
These days it is never easy to pick a good date for an event, as every weekend is over subscribed, so we picked a weekend in August when we knew Nigel would not be away racing, and the weather had every chance of co-operating!
40 cars are known to have survived in the UK and all of the owners responded, with 30 accepting the invitation to attend. We were also aware of two LHD examples in Europe, and although we had planned and advised everyone well over a year in advance, they were already committed to another anniversary event.
To further enhance the camaraderie that exists in this small community of Jaguar owners we reserved a block of rooms in a local hotel to give everyone who was travelling from afar the chance to stay in a common place the night before and enjoy a meal together. This worked very well, as many of the introductions were made the evening prior to the event and we all arrived as friends!
The weather forecast turned against us on the week leading up to the event, and sadly, a few people dropped out, but we still had a turnout of over 20 cars, which Andy is certain is more than 50% of survivors – a very good result compared to other events!
Nigel provided the venue and food, all for a token £10 donation to the Mike Hawthorn Headstone Restoration Fund, which is very close to his heart, and rather than just having owners walking around looking at cars, we planned a series of four 20 minute presentations.
1. Martin Joyce (formerly Jaguar Project Engineer – Engine Development, now Head of Engine Design, Changan Automotive) The first modern Supercharged Jaguar
2. Andy Stodart (formerly Jaguar Project Engineer – Emissions Development) Developing the Supercharged AJ16 for the X300
3. Graham Tarver (formerly Jaguar Project Engineer – Transmissions) Developing the manual gearbox installation for the X300 XJR
4. David Marks (Independent Jaguar Specialist) An overview of Diagnostics Specific to the X300 XJR with practical demonstrations using various diagnostic media.
CARS OF NOTE
We had some very important cars attending on the day, which included ….
This was a press car and belonged to Rob Jenner and Letitia Mace for many years. We left it with a local company with instructions to restore it, but after very slow progress it was then left unfinished until finally we decided (sadly) that it was one project too many for us and needed to be moved onto another enthusiast. We sold it to Peter Hickson and fortunately it was the right decision because when I told Peter, one year ago, that we were planning this event, he set himself a target to get the car on the road, if not completed, and be at the event come what may ….. and all credit to him, he did it !!!
Those who commented on the state of the car at the event were clearly not aware of how far forward it had come since we parted with it. Everything that Peter has done he has done properly, rather than rushing, and when it is finally finished it will be a job well done! M64FVC
|M64FVC seen here at XJR Manual Day, parked outside the Mike Hawthorn Museum
Picture courtesy of Peter Hickson
|This is 720077, the earliest car known to survive, a pre-production car, built 12th may 1994, now Registered H1 PCB
M588CRW parked alongside Daimler Double Six M593CRW at the launch of X300 – Picture courtesy of Paul Skilleter,
XJR Racing Car
Swallows Racing brought Tom Robinson’s race prepped XJR to the event on a trailer, as it is not road legal. This car is a genuine manual X300 XJR that was rescued from the scrap heap and given a new lease of life … sounds awesome and now competing successfully on the track!
Andy Stodart, as previously mentioned, was one of the development engineers. He continues to fettle his own cars and experiment with them, using his well-grounded knowledge, for the benefit of all X300 XJR Manual owners, and sometimes more! Andy is the designer of the Revised Crank Sensor Bracket (often referred to as an ‘Andy Bracket’ and available direct from Andy – please refer to the Sales and Wanted page of the Xclusively Jaguar website).
Our own X300 XJR Manual, P760 NRW, previously mentioned above, was the very last X300 XJR off the line at Browns Lane, and also the very last manual car to leave the production line at Browns Lane. It has its own story to tell, and is often featured on the Xclusively Jaguar website, as in Chairman’s Car Wins Classic of the Future. Still having covered little more than 11,000 genuine miles, and in immaculate condition, we believe it is the best example of this model in existence.
XJ40 XJR Manual
The XJ40 XJR was also rarely specified as a manual, and being the predecessor of this model, we felt it was only right to invite the only known survivors, these being 3 RHD examples in the UK. A quick consultation with Nigel, and the event was changed from X300 XJR Manual Day to XJR Manual Day in order to encompass these 3 extra cars!
|To commemorate the occasion, certificates were beautifully designed by Brin Seward. Each one featuring the VIN, plus details of current registration and current owner. Kindly printed by Michael Manconi of Trendy Designs with all proceeds being donated to the Mike Hawthorn Headstone Restoration Fund.|
Those who attended (listed in date order, earliest known to last built)
Picture courtesy of David Marks
XJ40 XJR Manual
X300 XJR Manual
I think the comments below sum up the success of this event!
many, many thanks for organising the event, it was a really enjoyable day and one that I will remember for a long time.
It was lovely to meet you and Rob, and so many other fellow enthusiasts of these great cars, some of whom I have subsequently been in touch with to swap parts and advice and just chat with.
Please pass my thanks on to Nigel and Wendy for their generous hospitality which really made the day.
I do hope we can do something similar again sometime in the not too distant future!
Good to see you and Rob yesterday – a fascinating day in all! I learnt more about certain aspects of the cars than I did at the official launch. The ex-factory people were brilliant. Congratulations on arranging it. I have to admit that I didn’t know it had been organised by you and Rob, assuming it was down to Nigel because he owns one of the manual XJRs. I must say that the X300 XJR manual was one of my favourite Jaguar saloons ever. I did seriously think about getting one instead of an XJ40 post-Dunkeld…
Good meeting you yesterday, thanks very much for organising the event – we really enjoyed the day!
Dear Andy and Letitia,
Thank you very much for a really fantastic day today which I thoroughly enjoyed. I thought it was a great idea to have a day with a special programme for manual XJR owners, as opposed to blistering it on to a more general Jaguar event. The presentations were really interesting and, as Rob so rightly said, we went away having found out many things we did not know before. It was great to meet other people I hadn’t seen before. I thought Nigel and Wendy did us proud – and the Museum was fascinating. I’m glad the weather turned in our favour, too !
Thanks again – and here’s to the next !
Just wanted to say a big thanks for organizing today .. a really enjoyable event!
21 cars is a pretty impressive turnout.
Thanks again and Kind Regards
Hi Leticia & Rob
Sorry we had to leave before the end, we want to say what a great day, well done!
Was great to meet up with the former owner of my XJR.
Please pass on our thanks to all the speakers involved.
Till the next time…………..
Bye for now
A big thank you for today, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and meeting other enthusiasts. Hopefully there will be sunshine in 5 weeks time, for Mk1 Day
Dear Letitia and Rob,
Just a line or two to thank you both for all your work organising the XJR Manual Day. I found the talks especially informative and I didn’t fall asleep once! Please extend my thanks to Andy Stodart, David Marks and of course Nigel Webb who I shall be dropping a line of thanks to separately. The occasion was not to be missed as it will not present itself again for some time to come, if ever. The occasion also provided an opportunity to compare our cars, the experience left me feeling rather pleased with my old ‘wreck’ which I have toiled over for the last 10years. Still a bit to do but nearly there.
So once again, Many thanks.
I thoroughly enjoyed last weekend at Nigel’s, wonderful event, I learnt so much, and wonderful to see Nigel’s fantastic collection.
To Nigel and Wendy,
I would just like thank you for giving me the opportunity, facilities and support I needed in order to bring together the XJR Manual owners community!
Feedback for XJR Manual Day Report
Many thanks for the link to your excellent report on the XJR Manual Day, and thank you for your kind words about my car.
My wife, who has never been a big Jaguar fan, was duly impressed and now understands my enthusiasm for the car a little better!
Keep up the good work,
Great write up, thanks.
A nice memory.
I am glad the 2x 40s got a mention too.
Very many thanks – first class.
I think you must have got a photo of every car and everyone present, which is a real triumph.
thank you for inviting me to present – it was fun to “re-live” a bit of my past
Hi Letitia and Rob,
Thank you very much for sending me the link to your fantastic article on the Manual XJR Day. The photo that included my Dad and I was particularly poignant, as sadly he passed away un-expectedly a couple of weeks ago. He had been a Jaguar enthusiast for many years, having owned both a manual 2.9L XJ40 and later a 2.5L automatic X-type. We had attended many Jaguar events together over the years, including the first Manual XJR gathering at Thoresby and the 2018 Silverstone Classic. The photo that included Dad and I is the last one taken of us both together. It would mean a lot to me if I could have a copy.
Thank you once again for organising the event and thanks to Nigel for hosting it. All the emails of thanks to you are very well deserved. If you every decide to organise another one, you can count on my full support.