1976 Jaguar XJS Trans-AM RacingSOLD

RM Auction - Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island - March 10, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $250,000 - $350,000

$225,500 Sold

Specifications:
Dry-sump 5.5 liter V-12 engine with 44 IDF Weber carburetion developing approximately 500 bhp, four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel A/P racing disc brakes, rack & pinion power steering. Wheelbase: 102"

R.C. TULLIUS AND GROUP 44 – PERFORMANCE & PRESENTATION

Bob Tullius belongs to that very select cadre of post-war racing drivers who achieved international success at the wheel of their own cars. Bob Tullius was an experienced driver before the Trans-Am began. Born in Rochester, New York in 1935, he is an Air Force veteran who has long found it practical to meet his commitments by flying his own plane.
Today he can be found at the controls of a pre-war Stearman or his P52 Mustang.

Tullius, who still limps from a college football injury, had planned a teaching career. But he started racing a TR3 in 1961 and never turned back. Early in his career, he tried stock car racing, driving for such stalwarts as Buck Baker and Jim Pascal. But it was Bob ’ s own immaculately turned out Group 44 cars, with their attention-getting reversed 44s, that reflected their handsome owner and enabled him to carve out an unusual spot in American racing. A five-time SCCA national champion, Tullius got the backing for a contradiction – a professionally run, amateur race team. When the lines between club racing and professional racing began to blur, Group 44 was in the right spot.

Tullius, with sponsorship from Dodge actually competed in the very first Trans-Am race in his Dodge Dart, leading the 1966 Sebring race until a six minute pit stop dropped him into second behind the Alfa of F-1 star Jochen Rindt. Later that year his little Dodge won the 12 Hour Trans-Am Enduro at Marlboro and even after losing his Dodge backing, Tullius bested a factory-backed field in the 1967 300 mile Daytona Trans-Am beating such stars as Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, Peter Revson, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Mark Donohue! Even the taciturn Tullius had to admit that this result was his greatest racing thrill.

A modest man,
his Trans-Am career statistics tell their own story:
• The second most career Trans-Am races with 60; after George Follmer (65)
• 2nd in career wins with 21 behind Mark Donohue
• Tied for season wins with seven behind Donohue ’ s ten
• First in most career consecutive victories at 10, beating Donohue ’ s 8 in a row.

The two Trans-Am Championships in 1977 and 1978 in the Jaguar XJS ’ actually created international attention and not long after, Group 44 was approached to develop and campaign a car for the new IMSA GTP series.

Jaguar wanted Bob to represent the company with style, image and substance. This was a perfect fit for Group 44. Although they did not dominate the series, it presented a popular and successful effort that achieved victories from coast to coast for seven years, including taking the team and Jaguar name to Le Mans for the first time since the D-Type factory team in the 1950s.

Bob Tullius was the lead driver, public relations manager and above all a respected champion right up to his retirement at Daytona in 1986 when he and Chip Robinson won the famous Daytona Finale. Bob ’ s style of preparation, racing craft and skill has established him as an equal in the league of American racing heroes – like sportsmen Briggs Cunningham, Dan Gurney and Jim Hall, all of whom also campaigned their own cars.

TWO CHAMPIONSHIP YEARS

The 1977 and 1978 Category I Trans-Am Championships were dominated by Bob Tullius and his two Jaguar XJS racing cars. From a total of 21 events, the Group 44 leaping cats won 13 races, finished 2nd in two and 3rd in a further three races. The opposition consisted of Monzas, Porsches and Corvettes driven by the best professionals in the country.

When Jaguar E-Type production ended in 1975 British Leyland needed a new flagship. BL ’ s Lord Stokes had no interest in auto racing but Jaguar ’ s Michael Dale, VP of Sales, enthused about racing the E-Type ’ s replacement, the 1976 Jaguar XJS. Knowing the potential of Tullius and his small but efficient crew, Mike Dale struck a deal with Group 44 to run the XJS in selected IMSA races as well as a full Trans-Am program.

The cars ’ development fell to young engineer Brian Fuerstenau and chief mechanic Latton “ Lanky ” Foushee. As tube frame production cars were not yet on the scene, the XJS ’ s body/chassis unit was stiffened by the means of an 8-point roll cage. The engine was fitted with dry-sump oiling, the street-style fuel injection was replaced by six twin choke Weber carburetors and a four-speed gearbox from the Euro version of the same car was employed. In the beginning engine horsepower was listed at 475 but by the end of the first season, 65 additional ponies had been found.

THE 1977 TRANS-AM JAGUAR XJS CHAMPION

The Group 44 XJS that RM Auctions has the privilege to present here has a superb history. Actually built in 1976 it was “ tested ” and developed in four events during that year. In August Tullius led the Mosport Trans-Am but finished 4th after car cooling problems. September saw him win the Lime Rock SCCA BP National while the Atlanta Run-offs produced a DNF. The November Daytona IMSA GT race had him in fourth overall when he had to retire. This time because of an overheated driver!

With the R&D work over, the 1977 season, as listed in our accompanying race record, netted the Category I Trans-Am Driver ’ s Championship for Bob Tullius with five wins, one 2nd, one 3rd and one 4th place finish. With Jaguar ’ s Michael Dale ’ s support now totally vindicated, the program was extended for 1978 with a similar result; Bob Tullius winning seven races in a row and # 2 team driver Fuerstenau copping an 8th win at the ‘ Glen Trans- Am.

CONCLUSION

Racing Championship automobiles seldom come to the market. Cars from the personal collection of the original team owner and championship driver are even more rare.

The XJS, directly from the Robert Tullius Collection, was given a full restoration by him in 1991 and starred at the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed. This year, it was again freshened and tuned, making it now quite suitable for a second career in today ’ s Historic Racing Circuit.

Reference Number 7292

as of 2/20/2007

Overview
Car 1976 Jaguar XJS Trans-AM Racing
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