A nervous introduction to the late Tom Walkinshaw became extra tense after a mishap with his Jaguar
I only met Tom Walkinshaw once and in less than ideal circumstances. I was looking after Autocar’s road test desk and he’d lent us the XJ220 that TWR had developed from scratch for Jaguar. And when I say the XJ220 I mean his XJ220. Car 001.
We’d driven it to a Welsh mountain with a Ferrari 512TR in convoy where we came across a couple with whom we exchanged pleasantries. But they latched onto us thereafter, so to deal with this familiar problem we drove each car across said mountain at artillery-shell velocity. Duly the man stated an urgent need to return to work. Not wishing to seem rude, we enquired what work that was. “I’m a traffic copper, working nights.”
Such tests often produce a good story and we thought that was it. But no. We left for a test track where we were to meet Walkinshaw. Knowing his reputation I was nervous about this, rather more so when we crashed his car on the way. A large, unsigned roundabout appeared at the exit of a curve we’d pitched into as fast as the cars would go. The Jaguar led, and from behind the wheel of the Ferrari I watched its trajectory as it drove up to and over the top of the roundabout.