Jag a piece of his­tory

Australian Muscle Car - - Immortal Muscle -

John McCor­mack is ever the prag­matic en­gi­neer and an­a­lyt­i­cal for­mer rac­ing driver. Su­perla­tives are not usu­ally his thing – es­pe­cially when it comes to race­cars with roofs. That makes his thoughts on be­ing united with the Charger, Cel­ica and Jaguar he built four decades ago par­tic­u­larly no­table. And why we started this is­sue’s cover story sec­tion with a ‘grab’ from his wider feel­ings on the mat­ter.

“There are so few surviving fron­trun­ning Sports Sedans from that era, much less metic­u­lously re­stored ex­am­ples. That all three of the cars I was re­spon­si­ble for have sur­vived is re­mark­able.

“To have all three of the cars to­gether in the one place for the first time was re­ally some­thing.

“I sup­pose we’re for­tu­nate that the right peo­ple have the three cars – Mark [Trenoweth] and Bruce [Gowans]. They are such en­thu­si­asts. By ‘they’ I mean Mark, Bruce and all of those who put so much time to get them here. “I feel a bit guilty, ac­tu­ally... Guilty? “That I was not one of the en­thu­si­asts,” McCor­mack of­fers by way of a clar­i­fi­ca­tion. It’s a ref­er­ence, we think, en­com­pass­ing both his pref­er­ence for open-wheel­ers gen­er­ally and the amount of work in­volved in build­ing these be­spoke beasts.

“Maybe it was be­cause it was such hard yakka the first time around!”

It must be said that John re­mained keenly in­ter­ested in the restora­tion of both projects, as he has the long rac­ing ca­reer of the ev­er­green Jaguar. Now about that XJS... Reg­u­lar AMC read­ers will re­call that the V12 ‘Big Cat’ was fea­tured in de­tail in is­sue #88 in mid 2016. The story noted that Mark Trenoweth’s ex-McCor­mack Jaguar XJS could be termed both pure­bred and feral. It’s most cer­tainly a rare bred of His­toric Sports Sedan in be­ing pro­lif­i­cally raced for much of its life but surviving un­mo­lested to­day.

The Uni­part Jag fol­lowed a sim­i­lar de­sign phi­los­o­phy to the Charger, but with a cou­ple of key dif­fer­ences. One was the longer, 6.0-litre V12 en­gine. The other was the driv­e­train lay­out. The rule in Sports Sedans that re­quired the Charger to have its gear­box lo­cated be­hind en­gine had been re­laxed in the in­ter­ven­ing years, so that for the Jag McCor­mack was free to run straight F5000-style transaxle gear­box/fi­nal drive assem­bly in the rear, without hav­ing to re­sort to run­ning a pair of Hew­land DG300 transaxle hous­ing – one be­hind the en­gine to house the gear­box and an­other (sans gear­box) at the rear car­ry­ing the fi­nal drive, as had been the case with the Charger.

McCor­mack de­buted the XJS in April 1980 and raced for the rest of that sea­son un­til his rac­ing ca­reer was cut short due to in­juries sus­tained in a road ac­ci­dent.

McCor­mack sold the car to Trenoweth in 1982 and the Queens­lan­der has owned it ever since. Mark (seated in the car, right) raced it pro­lif­i­cally through the 1980s and achieved plenty of suc­cess, par­tic­u­larly in Ama­roo Park’s Co­ma­lco Wun­der­lich Sports Sedan Series. He re­stored it back to its orig­i­nal Uni­part colours in the late 1990s and it’s, to this point, been the high­est pro­file car on the Group U His­toric Sports Sedan scene.

The low-slung ma­chine was part of the 2016 Mus­cle Car Mas­ters’ Sports Rac­ing Car In­vi­ta­tional demo ses­sions for his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant ve­hi­cles.

Is­sue #88 with our full 11-page ‘Pedi­greed and Wild’ story is avail­able as a back is­sue via my­magazines.com.au or 1300 361 146.

The group shot above shows (from left) Scott Bettes, Marty Steel, Mark Trenoweth, John McCor­mack, Si­mon Aram, Bruce Gowans, David Fidler and Adam Gowans.

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