On June 13th 1988, a young man with a big hangover turned up for his first day in a new job. The lad was me, the job that of junior stamp licker on Autocar, the hangover entirely the responsibility of the car you see here. I had just attended my very first Le Mans and watched one of the finest battles in its history and, though I did not know it at the time, the very last race of any sort contested by both the works Porsche and Jaguar teams.
The record books show the Jag XJR-9LM, driven by Andy Wallace, Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries won, but you’d need to look very hard to find it started the final lap of the race just 100 seconds ahead of the Porsche of Derek Bell, Hans Stuck and Klaus Ludwig and even then you’d never find out its gearbox was broken and may not have survived another lap.
To drive that car today is as rare a privilege as comes the way of a man in my position. Fresh from being refettled by Don Law Racing, it is as good now as it was the day it took Jaguar back to the top step of the famed Le Mans podium for the first time in 31 years.
With a 7-litre, V12 motor with at least 720bhp and weighing little more than Smart ForTwo it is at once terrifying and invigorating. In its day it was timed at 246mph on the Mulsanne Straight at which speed it was developing more than double its own weight in downforce.