The Australian Jaguar Mark VII Historic Racer
While at a recent club day at Lakeside International Raceway in SE Queensland, I photographed a Mk VII Jaguar in full racing guise. I was very busy this day doing some urgent set up work for another Competitor and so had no time to make contact with the owner of this vehicle.
As with many competent drivers in the club scene and historic racing, with very few exceptions, the name of the owner of this car is not all that well known outside of the historic racing movement in this country. It took me some time to actually track him down, now maybe that was all my fault as I did not know where to actually look! That was solved by an email to Lloyd Anderson, who has knowledge of this competitor.
John Tupicoff has owned the 1954 Mk VII for around 4 years; he originally began restoring it with the expectation that he and his wife would enjoy this car in club events around the country.
At first this car was entered with the E type Register and subsequently competed in a few of their “Midnight to Dawn” runs.
The car went so well that they made the decision to prepare the car for more “active” competition, which included further engine work (after the original took a turn for the worse) together with an upgrade to the suspension and brakes. At this juncture the Moss gearbox was also fully overhauled as John decided that he liked the sound and slower change of this box as it was in keeping with the historical values of this form of racing.
All the usual suspension work of effectively lowering the car was performed including a set of Koni adjustable shocks and a 1 inch sway bar.
A good set of slightly wider wheels were produced to take into account the most suitable tyres that are now available to suit this
somewhat heavier car than the current super touring units that today perform on our circuits. John had intended to use Yokohama tyres as these have provided very good performance for others in historic competition; however as in the best laid plans these were not available at the time, so Falken 225-50-16 were substituted and have proven to be well up to the task asked of them.
Now that this car has been log booked as a Group N Historic Race Car, it means that it must run similar to the period pre 1958 – i.e. 3.4 litre Jaguar engine, Moss gearbox, drum brakes and 15 x 5 ½ inch wheels (16 inch if tyres can be found, meanwhile Avon tyres 205/70/15) and with a full interior. The only exception is that a racing seat is allowed, this to simplify the mandated fitting of an appropriate seat belt!
The engine is a well built 3.4 block and B type head. The bottom end was carefully balanced and an upgraded oil pump fitted. Compression was set at 8.1 using solid skirt pistons, the head was ported and polished in the traditional way by noted Jaguar head man Mike Hunter, using larger valves. The camshaft was ground to a 26-66 inlet 70-22 exhaust with 0.42 lift. A lightened flywheel, 30% less in weight, was fitted with a 9.5” diaphragm clutch. The usual Twin 2” SU carburetors are fitted together with an XJ6 distributor for improved reliable spark control.
With this engine run in and operating as John had wished, he found that this new found urge was making the braking suspect, so harder linings and a larger PBR power booster were fitted and it is apparent that further work will be required to this area including drilled backing plates, etc.
One can see that even in this world of historic racing, development work will still go on to achieve better results.
The first outing as an historic racer was at Morgan Park near Warwick, up on the Darling Downs of Queensland. This is relatively high country for us in Australia, as it sits at the top of our Great Dividing Range (well maybe not the very top?) It gets cold and wet at times. This race meeting was not to miss out on that rain. So on an extremely wet Saturday morning practice, surprise, surprise, the Mk VII handled the wet weather with great aplomb!
Since that first meeting work has continued to develop this fine older Jaguar, in particular the exhaust has been well tinkered with and together with the engine mods mentioned above now produce 180 BHP at the back wheels.
Even given that this car is big, it is well balanced and with the increased power that is now available, John is able to get it to over steer sufficiently to handle the tighter corners on some of our more challenging circuits. John said in an email to me, when I asked his permission to do this article, that the engine, brakes and suspension are more than adequate for his driving skills, before he needs to improve this car further. That is what John says! I AM WRITING THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE I SAW JUST HOW WELL THIS CAR AND DRIVER combination PERFORMS. John is no “club driver” to drive this car in the fashion that he does so well.
It is great to see one enjoying our sport in this fashion. I would be interested to hear from anyone else that runs a similar car.
Text and pictures supplied by Bill Hinte, Australia, January 2011