1978 Jaguar XJSGroup 44 Trans-Am
Year of manufacture1978
Exterior brand colourWhite
Winner of the 1978 Trans-Am Category 1 Drivers and Manufacturers Championship
Campaigned by legend Bob Tullius and his Group 44 team
Mechanically restored by marque-expert Chris Keith-Lucas's CKL Developments
Presented in its original Quaker State-sponsored livery
Rare purpose-built, tube-frame race car; three owners from new
Documented with FIVA passbook and FIA papers
Includes its original vehicle log book with notes and racing results
1978 Trans-Am Racing Season Results
May 21st – Sears Point – 9th in class, 18th OA
June 4th – Westwood – 2nd in class, 4th OA
June 11th – Portland – 3rd in class, 7th OA
June 25th – Mont-Tremblant – 1st in class, 5th OA
July 8th – Watkins Glen – 1st in class, 7th OA
August 13th – Brainerd – 1st in class, 5th OA
August 19th – Mosport – 1st in class, 5th OA
September 4th – Road America – 1st in class, 5th OA
October 8th – Laguna Seca – 1st in class, 7th OA
November 5th – Mexico City – 1st in class, 6th OA
1978 Racing Results (other)
November 26th – Daytona Finale – 2nd in class, 9th OA
Bob Tullius - Driver's Championship Winner,
Jaguar – Manufacturer's Championship Winner
The British manufacturer known for the unquestionably-amazing E-type, Jaguar retired their long-time best seller with the introduction of the XJ-S in 1975. The luxury grand tourer street car was met with a lukewarm response due to its more luxury-oriented design, and the British car maker was determined to figure out how to increase its sales. The time-tested phrase "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" was instituted to provide some racing pedigree to the XJ-S which started with the Bob Tullius' racing team, Group 44.
Jaguar approached the Virginia-based Group 44 racing team with the intention of making the XJ-S a winning machine. The private race team obliged and Jaguar was paid back in spades, with Bob Tullius and the XJ-S race car winning the Driver's Championship in Trans-Am Category 1 class in 1977. That Trans-Am car began the evolution from the first XJ-S Trans-Am racer that led to this menacing 1978 championship winner.
1978 yielded a far more hardcore racer, this time this car taking advantage of the silhouette rules. As long as the car looked like a stock production car, they could generally race. This allowed for some "creative" mechanical underpinnings and the Jaguar took full advantage of this. This time, Group 44 used the factory tub which was an acid-dipped body shell provided by Jaguar, à la what Roger Penske and Mark Donohue did to their Trans-Am Camaros in the late 60s, saving precious pounds. This inspired combination was combined with Jaguar's 5.3-liter overhead cam V12 powerplant. Not leaving anything to chance, instead of fuel injection it received six Weber carburetors and was significantly modified and tuned to produce around 580 horsepower, more than twice the road car's 244 horsepower.
Despite being heavier than most of its competition and having less displacement than its competitors, Bob Tullius and the Jaguar saw the checkered flag 7 times in a row after the first three rounds, taking a podium finish in the 2nd and 3rd rounds; tying Mark Donohue for the most consecutive Trans-Am wins. At Road America he clinched the driver's championship and, in the season's final round in Mexico City, he proudly took the manufacturers' title for Jaguar in the Category 1 class.
After dominating the 1978 season, the car was placed into storage by Tullius for close to three decades before going to collector Gary Bartlett in 2007. Bartlett commissioned Chris Keith-Lucas in England to mechanically restore the car, including a comprehensive engine rebuild. In March 2009 the XJ-S won the FIVA award at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, and in August 2011 it was proudly displayed at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in Monterey at Laguna Seca. Two years following, the Jaguar received certification for major racing events with an FIA Historic Technical Password and a FIVA card. In 2013 the car was purchased by its most recent owner.
The Group 44 Jaguar, in its signature Quaker State Oil green and white livery, is an iconic and unusual piece of Trans-Am history. The cosmetic condition of the car is original, evident by its patina from the track that gives this V12 monster a unique character. While most of the Trans-Am field were filled with V8s and flat sixes, Jaguar and Group 44 decided to take a chance on that V12, turning a luxury car into a race-dominating machine. Who would have known that a land yacht-based race car would have trumped a number of manufacturers who normally were uncontested? The simplicity of the silhouette racer with its thin bodywork, competent chassis setup and tuning, the gloriously high-revving V12 engine, and of course the talented hands and feet of Bob Tullius were a winning dominating force that will be known for decades to come.