e met Ian ‘Blue’ Dorward for the first time at Bathurst in 1985. The Kiwi, who gained vast experience at Bathurst and other tracks before he went to England, headed the multimillion-dollar Jaguar challenge to win the Australian classic against the dominant Holden, Ford, and BMW challengers.
Blue was appointed by Tom Walkinshaw to find and, in some cases, buy back, three of the four XJ-SS competing in the 1984 European Touring Car Championship (ETCC), one of which won that year — then find the crew and drivers who would participate in the only Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) XJ-S race for 1985.
That is the calibre and capability of the man, but what we didn’t know until several months ago was that Blue had another TWR XJ-S project on at the same time.
He was building a brand-new personal Jaguarsport XJ-S at TWR’S workshop at Kidlington, north of Oxford. It was unlike any other road-going TWR XJ-S, as it contained many original TWR XJ-S racing mechanicals — and Blue owns the car, which is still at his home base in Hastings.
TWR created TWR Sport in 1984 to produce modified versions of the XJ-S. Designated ‘XJR-S’, the cars benefited from racing experience in the ETCC, and featured improved aerodynamics, uprated suspension and brakes, a tuned engine, and detail changes. The success of TWR Sport led to the formalizing of a joint venture (50/50 with Jaguar) in 1988, called ‘Jaguarsport’.
Jaguarsport would focus on building tuned versions of Jaguar road cars — the XJR-S coupé and XJ-R saloon.
Blue joined TWR for the 1984 season, which was an all-out fight between Jaguar and BMW, in particular, and he was a key member of the team, which not only won the Drivers’ title but also the prestigious Spa 24 Hours race.