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XJ-S  Rally Car

XJ-S Rally Car

During 1973 and 1975 Ed built and Rallied this 1963 Austin A40 1275cc Car in National rallies throughout the UK.  All parts including the roll cage, sump guard and lighting bracket were made in Jaguar Experimental !! During this period Ed was working sometimes 12 hours a day 7 days a week on XJ27 projects, and when his boss Norman Dewis suggested he was "too busy to carry on with this Rallying lark"  he duly complied and put the idea on the back boiler !!!

Ed and BMW 3.0 SI Cotswold's night Rally Feb. 1982.

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Ed and BMW 3.0 SI Cotswold's night Rally Feb. 1982.  Pete French navigating.

However, between 1976-85 Ed competed in a variety of Road and Stage rallies. Pictured here is a rare import into the UK in 1976.. a BMW 3.0 SI  LHD  200 BHP car, sideways at the drop of a hat! Jaguar bought this new as a competitor assessment vehicle, and Ed purchased it once finished with as he was so impressed with its Turbine smooth engine. A real handful in the wet! Sold to finance our Fiesta XR2 race programme in March 1982, it was written off by the new owner within days of purchase.

33 YEARS LATER ......

In  2015 Ed bought a 1979 built XJ-S he recognised to be a rare 1980 model year car. It was not long afterwards he realised it was eligible to enter in Historic Rallying, and the scene was set for a return to Rallying.

Ed and KNC 929V (registered new in Nantwich) compete in the RAC MSA " Historic Rally Cars " series which is divided into 4 date derived classes, Ed's is Category 3... 1st Jan 1975-31st Dec 1981. Technical specification for the series is based on FIA Homologation papers issued in period, which for the V12 XJ-S was filed by Jaguar in October 1980. The car was effectively totally rebuilt to motorsports standard during 2016 with all the usual modifications to improve reliability, handling and performance for arduous Rally competition.

Ed Abbott and Roger Bricknell on the RAC Rally of the Tests November 2017 

Ed Abbott and Roger Bricknell on the RAC Rally of the Tests November 2017 

Heart of the XJ-S is the magnificent 5.3 litre V12 Engine, built to the rare 10:1 specification between December 1979 and  February 1980. Only 365 Engines were built for the UK Market. Originally fitted with an oval round pipe fuel rail, and debuting the P Digital Lucas Fuel injection, the "Ten to One" produced in excess of 300 bhp, but was officially pegged to this value so as not to embarrass the HE specification that replaced it at 299 BHP.

Modifications  include :-

Cold air intakes as fitted to 4 speed Manual, press cars in 1975

Large Bore Intake trumpets as fitted to 6.4 litre Experimental V12 Engines in 1974 ( and TWR ! )

Flowed inlet manifolds and throttle bodies  with Bespoke Foam air filters

Modified Fuel pressure regulators.

Upgraded Hybrid Distributor and  Constant energy ignition

Low back pressure Exhaust system.

The Navigators view is dominated by the Brantz trip meter to the left

The Navigators view is dominated by the Brantz trip meter to the left, which is accurate to 20 feet / 6 metres. Driven by a sensor from the front LH wheel to eliminate error from wheelspin. A backup and more robust sensor is fitted to the rear axle and can be switched if the front fails. The Right Hand Brantz meter is the stop watch and master clock, and is set at the beginning of each rally to the organisers definition of GMT! The Trip meter is vital in finding obscure tracks ,farm gateways etc to turn into and working out the all important average speeds.

During 2017 Ed has competed in 5 major UK Rallies for Classic Cars which has a cut off point of 1985. The 1980 rare 10:1 compression Ratio 300 BHP XJ-S pictured has been modified to compete in these events and is constantly being upgraded to be lighter ,nimbler and quicker!!. It is thought to be the only example of a V12 XJ-S competing in significant Classic car Rallies in Europe.

Eds next event will be the HERO Events "Winter Challenge" to Monte Carlo in mid Feb 2018.

Current work on the car includes fitting a "new " final drive unit with rebuilt LSD and lower 3.31:1 ratio, revised increased Front and rear spring rates, revised rear silencers for less back pressure, stiffer front sub frame mountings, plus all the normal service requirements of keeping this complicated car running reliably!!

This site will gradually be added to as and when Ed can tear himself away from working on the car.

3.31:1 axle

The new 3.31:1 axle in the foreground has a tighter LSD unit than standard better suited for competition use. The lower axle ratio from standard (3.07 :1 ) will give the car approximately 10 % better acceleration. This was the standard axle ratio on XJ-S destined for the USA Market.

Ed and the XJ-S with navigator Pete Johnson at the Lans en Vercors ice racing circuit Rhone-Alpes France.

Ed and the XJ-S  with navigator Pete Johnson at the Lans en Vercors ice racing circuit Rhone-Alpes France. 

Part of the 2018 Hero Events "Winter Challenge" to Monte Carlo in February. A great Epic 5 day Rally that saw us finish in 7th place overall and 2nd in class. The total round trip saw the XJ-S cover 2500 miles with no problems.

Col De TurinEd and Pete Johnson at the Finish of the rally .. "Col De Turini".

“Blue Passion “ / Ed Abbott
© "Blue Passion" / Ed Abbott

“Blue Passion “ / Ed Abbott

© "Blue Passion" / Ed Abbott

Eds next rally HERO events "Summer Trial" Chesterfield/Peak District 11/12/13 May 2018.

A great result on the HERO Events "Summer Trial"   

A great result on the HERO Events "Summer Trial" in the peak district of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire for Ed and navigator Andrew Fish. Running high as 5th overall out of the 80 car field for a short while, the team eventually came home first in class for cars made between 1975-85 which is the best result to date for the XJ-S.....

With a 2 month interlude until my next rally routine maintainence is underway, and to get to the front of the engine it's easier to remove the Radiator pack, and see how 10,000 miles of rally mileage has affected anything and clean all the road dirt off the engine and remove the Alternator etc for checking... At the same time the cam timing is to be checked and reset for optimum midrange power delivery.

This is also the opportunity to fit an bespoke Aluminium radiator to improve cooling a bit but to also save some weight...

Aluminium radiator
routine maintainence is underway

The next HERO events rally is the HERO Challenge based near Bicester on 22nd Sept 2018 and then the all important "RAC Rally of the Tests" 8th-11th November 2018 Harrogate to Bristol.

2018 "Winter Challenge" 

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© Blue Passion/ Ed Abbott
Great shot of the XJ-S in the dusty vineyards of southern France 2018 "Winter Challenge" 

"HERO Challenge Rally 22nd Sept 2018 "
"HERO Challenge Rally 22nd Sept 2018"

With Paul Bosdet, Turweston Northants, Airfield Tests.

10th overall 108 starters
2nd in class
Winner Team award

Ed and Paul Bosdet  receiving event Awards





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RAC Rally of tests 2018 Harrogate to Bristol

Preparation for the all important RAC Rally of the Tests over 4 days in November 2018 included removing the front Beam to totally overhaul the suspension mountings and update the lower wishbone mounting bushes to a harder polyurethane bush and include a bespoke design thrust collar to limit wishbone crept rearwards under extreme braking loads. This also provided better access to change the starter motor to a modern lightweight geared unit. Other works included overhauled rear wheel hubs to reduce bearing free play and additional mounting points for the exhaust system ahead of the axle for improved security.

RAC Rally of tests 2018 Harrogate to Bristol

HERO "Rally of the Tests 2018"
HERO "Rally of the Tests 2018"
Harrogate to Bristol
With Pieter van Leusden
Chepstow race course

A tough 800 mile event for navigators and cars alike.
We experienced intermittent electrical charging problems
Throughout the rally due to a harness fault which cost us dearly!!
67th out of 98 entries - 5th in class
Car handled and performed brilliantly notwithstanding the above!!!

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Le Jog 2018 early Test 1
HERO Events Le Jog 8-11 Dec. 2018

Billed as the toughest rally in Europe, Le Jog is a 1600 mile endurance event from Land's End to John O'Groats taking in classic rally roads in Wales, the Peak District, Yorkshire and Scotland with not a lot of sleep in between!!

The car with experienced Nick Cooper navigating ran extremely well, and brought us home 9th overall and 3rd in class out of 75 starters and netted us a coveted Bronze finishers medal!
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Le Jog
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Le Jog
Nice to be included in the February edition of "Octane" magazine as part of the report on the HERO Le Jog event.

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Le Jog
Further coverage of the 2018 Le Jog featured the XJ-S in "Classic Cars" magazine, so some great exposure for the Pre -HE Jaguar the UK Classic car press.... photographed just after a puncture and wheel change at Kielder Forest.....
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HERO Events  "3 Legs of Mann"    March 2019     

8th overall     2nd In class 

A great motorsport event  on the Isle of Mann for my second visit, with the car so much better, power and handling wise than it was 2 years ago.  Partnered by Paul Bosdet we ran well up the order
for most of the event , thanks to setting  the fastest times on most of  the tests in our class, as the open nature and closed road sections suited the power of the XJ-S. Paul's navigation was first class.
Another great HERO rally with fantastic roads.

Nice comment from the Organisers event report ;-

"An absolutely startling performance was achieved by Ex Jaguar development engineer and Racer Ed Abbott navigated by accomplished Paul Bosdet to take 8th place.The noise of the V12 was enough to stir the soul, despite its non to suitability for the lanes."

Next Rallies

28th Sept. 2019 HERO Challenge Bicester
7-10 Nov. 2019 RAC Rally of the Tests Torquay to Chester

Manual Gearbox Update

After much deliberation and engineering modification I have converted the XJ-S to manual transmission to reduce weight, a saving of 28kg and improve low speed acceleration.

This has taken a great deal of time to arrive at a well executed upgrade with reasonable clutch pedal effort, yet reliable torque transfer to the rear wheels. The gearbox chosen was the early incarnation of the Getrag 265 unit with speedo drive, which by all account can handle the 340 ft/lbs of V12 torque. The clutch is a TTV 240mm unit rated at 400 ft/lbs of torque and a hybrid Helix 6 paddle competition plate with torque springs.

Manual Gearbox
Manual Gearbox

Manual Gearbox

Manual Gearbox
Manual Gearbox

So "Hero Challenge 2 2019"

First outing for XJ-S with 5 speed manual gearbox, based and starting from Bicester Heritage centre. With Paul Bosdet navigating for the 3rd time, we were placed in the "Masters Class" which Paul certainly deserved, not sure about me !! and as such not eligible in the overall awards structure. Car ran well and I made a special effort not to make any mistakes on any of the tests (successfully), all of them based at Bicester or Turweston airfields. We finished 5th in the masters class, but using the best times overall from the test and regularity tables a theoretical 7th out of 104 starters. Improved acceleration, driveability and car control was certainly now improved with the lighter (28 kg); manual gearbox and a good outing leading up to the all important RAC Rally of the Tests in November...Thanks to Paul's excellent navigation it was a thrill to actually score zero penalty points on some of the Regularity sections....

Hero Challenge 2 2019
Hero Challenge 2 2019

HERO Events RAC Rally of the Tests Nov. 2019 with Ray Crowther

22nd overall 2nd in Class 80 starters.

The longest/ toughest Rally of the year saw the hugely experienced Ray Crowther AKA "The Crow " in the navigators seat.

Starting from Torquay we had a great start and established 15 th place out of the starting field of 80 cars, our route North to Chester saw us take in tests on the Porlock Toll road, Chivenor RAF Airfield, Castle Combe Race track, the NEC Classic Car show to name a few.

This tough event took in over 50 miles of off road driving, snow on the Derbyshire Dales and in Snowdonia and a lot of rain !!

The car ran extremely well soaking up a huge amount of punishment off road. The manual gearbox worked well adding another driving experience to the rally..The tricky navigation of the event saw us drop down the results a bit , but a great showing for the car and occupants on this demanding event. 1500 miles round trip..

The V12 engine now producing in excess of 300 BHP mated to the manual gearbox was a real joy to use and was routinely revved to over 6000 rpm at any opportunity.

Quote from Organisers press release "Ed Abbott was struggling to use all the power on Porlock Hill as he fought for grip, but it was a great spectacle."

Hero Challenge November 2019© Tony Large
Hero Challenge November 2019© Tony Large
Hero Challenge November 2019© Tony Large
Hero Challenge November 2019© Tony Large
HERO Events RAC Rally© Blue Passion
HERO Events RAC Rally© Blue Passion


The Covid Epidemic has seen most of the significant 2020 Rallies cancelled.

During the year the car has undergone planned maintenance and development work on the Engine Exhaust and intake system to ensure these are bang on specification and performing as well as they can be to unlock a better power band.

Rallying Resumes!

Following an 18 month sabbatical, rallying for me and the XJ-S resumes in September with a run of 4 important and testing events. Details of those and viewing points can be determined from the Event Organisers websites.

Much work has been undertaken in the lay off period, to improve the cars performance:

  1. Engine power has been increased across the whole of the power band to give a wide spread of seamless power from 2500-6500 Rpm.
  2. A new rear axle has been fitted, designed with parallel rear tracking to improve front end turn in, with a further reduction in gearing to the 3.54:1 axle ratio to improve acceleration and an evolution Salisbury Powr-lok LSD preload clutch pack for better traction off road.  Springs have been increased 5%.
  3. Front suspension has re-rated springs and caster setting, again to improve steering response and turn in.

3.54:1 Final Drive Unit with all new brake package.

3.54:1  Final Drive Unit with all new brake package.


2021 Rallies

Sept 1st - 4th “3 Castles Trial”

Llandudno 5th overall  
North Wales 1st in class   
Navigator: Paul Bosdet 80 Entries

Great to return to North Wales and Llandudno in settled weather. An 18 month layoff had given time for many technical upgrades on the car... Excellent navigation by Paul had us in the top 6 from the get go, and over the 3 days a solid performance from the 2 of us netted a fine 5th overall and class win for the hard charging XJ-S now sounding gorgeous!!

On the 2nd day the Gearbox started making a loud squawking noise, traced to a dry input shaft spigot bearing which continued making a racket for the remainer of the event !!

An excellent event ,great rest halts and fine competitor spirit amongst the 80 strong entry.. 1600 mile round trip ...

Gearbox removed once home and spigot bearing lubricated with high temp Graphite Grease and Graphite powder.

Hero Challenge November 2019© Duncan Littler
Hero Challenge November 2019© Duncan Littler

Sept 12th – 17th “Scottish Malts”

Scotland 11th overall  
Edinburgh 1st in class   
Pittochry – Inverness 55 Entries
Navigator: Roger Bricknell  

First time for driver and Car the “ Malts “ took us to Edinburgh for the start. The XJ-S revelling in the hill climbing found in the Highlands !!

Again excellent navigation, this time from Roger Bricknell had us swiftly in the top 6 and some fair driving worked to our advantage over the varied tests of the event.

The 5 competitive days took us all over the Eastern part of Scotland with excellent and demanding roads to enjoy, and many Distilleries to visit as part of the local flavour of the region.. (nothing drunk).

Bit of a panic on the 4th day when 2 front suspension bolts worked loose and we had to drive 30 miles before a proper repair could be effected, but it did not affect the results.

Tricky navigation saw us take a dive to 12th, on the 4th day, but a solid final day got us back up a place and onto another class win...

A long and memorable event, well organised by HERO –ERA.

Car ran well with the soundtrack from the glorious V12 getting many fans and positive comments. !! 1900 mile round trip !!

Video of event “Scottish Malts 2021“ now on YouTube with a bit of XJ-S to enjoy!!  


XJ-S coverage at 4.17 – 4.36 minutes and 7.14 minutes.





Nov 4th – 7th “RAC Rally of the Tests”

Leeds to Edinburgh 1st in class   

Navigator Nick Cooper

20th Overall

  75 Starters

We knew it was going to be tough and it was!!

Tricky navigation sections all the way, and great tests that required aggressive driving kept us fully focused for 3 days as we headed North.

The Tests on Ministry of Defence land in the dark were a highlight and throughout the event, the XJ-S more or less was the fastest car in our class during all tests which kept our penalties low. It was great to have Nick in the hot seat again, as we get on so well, and we worked hard to achieve a class win !!

The car ran well, but a click/rattle from under my seat suggested there was an issue with the RHS Trailing arm mounting.

Into Scotland and with Covid lingering, it was facemasks on again in the public areas of lunch halts etc.

With so much class and experience ahead of us it was no surprise to come home 20th overall, with only a few seconds splitting each place.

Another great Event.

These 3 Rallies of 2021 had clocked up over 5000 miles for the Hard Charging XJ-S!! and would require a major maintainance program before the next event.

RAC Rally of the Tests
RAC Rally of the Tests

2023 Events

4th-9th February. Hero Winter Challenge
Troyes Northern France to Monaco
Navigator: Paul Bosdet

16th-18th March Hero "3 Legs of Mann"
Isle of Man
Navigator: Paul Bosdet

Hero "Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo" - 4-9 February 2023

5th overall  

1st in class

35 starters

Teamed up again with Paul Bosdet navigating, we headed into France to the start at Troyes. Once Scrutineered we got the event decals on and got going heading South !!

With us on fine form we were placed 3rd overall at the end of day one, despite a Bonnet pin breaking !!

Day 2 got us into the Snow belt as we climbed into the hills and the fun and games began. Running on mandatory Snow tyres helped a bit, but not a lot...

Day 3 saw us compete in a very long and demanding night section in the hills, following a long day... which required the utmost concentration from Driver and navigator as it was minus 3 degrees with Snow and Ice still about !!

It also demanded full power from the Engine room and handling and braking department, which I am pleased to say was delivered with un-ending enthusiasm !! What a great thrill that was with us delivering a very quick and neat team performance.

Day 5 got us to Monte Carlo after the statutory thrash up the famous " Col Du Turini " route to finish the competitive bit.

Another superb event from Hero-Era , and great navigation from Paul made this another truly memorable sortie for the 44 year old XJ-S which didn't miss a beat despite being thrashed to death most of the time. Such a pleasure and privilege to be driving this fine piece of Jaguar Engineering. I had hoped for a top five finish and class win result and we got it !!

The 850 Mile drive home from Monte Carlo reminded me of the similar journeys I undertook 40+ years ago through Italy and France in XJ-S's when Jaguar was paying the bills !!

A round trip for the Rally of 2800 Miles !!

Hero "Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo"© Hero - Era / Blue Passion
Hero "Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo"© Hero - Era / Blue Passion

Hero Events "3 Legs of Mann" 16-18 March 2023

11th overall

2nd in class

60 starters

My 3rd visit to the Isle of Man and again with Paul Bosdet navigating. Great event with demanding roads, upset with fog on the night sections which were extremely demanding and a pity as there were some great roads to drive on, if only we could have seen them !!

Car ran a treat but with the cream of British Regularity Rallying on the island in force we knew the competition would be stiff and it was. Some great tests over the hills on closed roads and on Jurby Airfield to get our teeth into brought out the best of the car and occupants. A really enjoyable and competitive event from Hero up to their normal high standards.

Hero Events 3 Legs of MannWill Broadhead Photography
Hero Events 3 Legs of Mann"Will Broadhead Photography

Hero Events 3 Legs of Mann"Nice Photo of XJ-S CentrePit lane IOM TT Course. June 2023 Octane Magazine.

Next Rallies

17th June 2023. HRCR Round East Anglian Classic
Navigator: Cath Woodman

2-5 November 2023. Hero ERA Rally of Tests

Navigator: Graham Raeburn

East Anglia Classic 17th June 2023

13th overall

2nd in class

45 starters

On a very hot weekend, I entered a round of the National HRCR Championship, “The East Anglian Classic“  - very local for me only being 30 miles away.

Navigated by Cath Woodman, we had a great Morning and were 3rd overall at lunch, before tricky navigation caught us out late in the day...!!

It was very hot in the car, needing Ice packs down our backs to cope with the 30 degree plus temperature outside the car !!

Some great off road action, but oh was it dusty as can be seen from the photos..

A great Rally and the car coped with the heat well, but full of dust after the event.

East Anglia Classic 17th June 2023
East Anglia Classic 17th June 2023 - Dusty!

HERO-ERA RAC Rally Of Tests 1-5  November 2023  

11th overall

1st in class

65 starters

The Years “Big One“, started nr Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. Several weeks work went into the car prior to the event as I had clocked up 7500 Rally miles during 2023 and it was due some TLC and servicing etc all round.

With Experienced Navigator Graham Raeburn in the Hotseat we set forth into the glorious Autumn landscape of Lincolnshire and enjoyed some really great Tests based at Cadwell Park raceway although I was sure the rev limiter normally set at 6800 Rpm was operating at a lower RPM once we got on the Tarmac surface of the race track. !!  Earlier tests often needed to be started in 2nd Gear as it had been so wet in the UK for many weeks leading up to the event and I was having problems getting the power down, and didn’t need full revs/power..

At the end of the first day we were holding a fairly secure 9th place overall and leading our class, which include no less than 7 Porsches !!

The route took us further North into Yorkshire and was to feature many great off Roads tests both in Forests and parklands. A return trip to Harewood Hillclimb was especially anticipated although the intermittent rev. limit of 5000 rpm was starting to affect the cars times and driving enjoyment.

Nevertheless the car was running well and as usual soaking up a lot of off road punishment . Thanks to Grahams great navigation we were posting some really competitive Regularity times and its always really satisfying to arrive at Controls bang on time to get “zero” seconds penalty.

Highlight of the Rally was the “TC “ sections off road where the car need to be driven to the limit and we were to post some good top 5 times on occasion !!

The last day Morning caused a major upset to many teams with a “Crafty / Ambiguous / Regularity instruction which caught us out big time and sent us crashing down the leader table into the teens !!

Hard work in the afternoon saw us claw back up the results to finish  11th overall but 1st in Class.

Another Challenging rally and my best ever Result on Rally of the Tests. 

Hero Era 2023
HERO-ERA RAC Rally Of Tests 1-5 2023

Next Event

Classic Events "Winter Trial"
Krakow, Poland   
28th January - 2nd February 2024
Navigator: Mike Cochrane

Winter Trial Jan/Feb 2024  

5th Overall

68 Starters

 2nd in Class 

The following article covers my experiences at this event. It was an epic rally to drive in the winter conditions, and the first time many people had ever seen a Jaguar XJ-S at such an event!

Article: Winter Trial 2024

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