Palmer Jaguar JP1 TS: L-plates not included

One of only a few two-seat Challengers built, this corporate-day stalwart is ready to schmooze again, says Simon de Burton

Palmer Jaguar JP1

Share the experience in this track-spec two-seater, which even comes with a trailer

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There can be few people who know more about track days than motor sport impresario Jonathan Palmer, so the fact that he was central to the design of this Jaguar-powered two-seater suggests that whoever buys it can be confident it’s ‘fit for purpose’.

Originally conceived as a track weapon capable of giving visitors to Palmer’s Bedford Autodrome a slight flavour of what it’s like to drive an LMP car, it was inspired by the Zeus Challenger. Original Challengers, produced in Oxfordshire by Zeus Motorsport Engineering, were single-seaters powered by 2-litre Toyota four-cylinder engines but Palmer wanted to create a small ‘fleet’ of two-seaters that could accommodate a driver and an instructor during the popular corporate track day events for which his company became famous.

In the style of celebrated Remington boss Victor Kiam, he bought Zeus and, using modifications penned by the PalmerSport engineers, had Zeus designer Peter Sneller build a run of wider, space-frame chassis into which were fitted Jaguar Racing Cosworth

3-litre, V6 quad-cam engines tuned to make close to 280bhp – sufficient to give each 695kg car a hard-charging 0-100mph time of just 7.6secs and a top speed of 178mph.

In addition to the eight cars built for use at Bedford Autodrome, a few more were made available for sale – the example on offer at Silverstone Auctions being one of them.

First bought by a private enthusiast, in 2015 the car was subsequently sold to leading Jaguar dealer Harwoods, which used it for client schmoozing at various UK circuits.

When Harwoods consigned the Palmer Jaguar to Silverstone three years ago, it was bought by another private owner as a trackday plaything for him and his son (£28,000 all-in) but the pair have used it only once. During that time it has been serviced by PalmerSport and is now offered for sale complete with a bespoke race trailer. Just add petrol. Super unleaded does the trick.

2004 Palmer Jaguar JP1 TS

At Silverstone Auctions, Race Retro Live, March 27.
Estimate: £25,000-£30,000


Forthcoming sale highlights

RM Sotheby’s, Amelia Island
May 22

The annual spring extravaganza beneath the Florida sun may once again have been rained on by Covid – but RM has already consigned a hugely covetable matching-numbers Ferrari 275 GTB/4 in fetching primrose yellow.

Silverstone Auctions, Race Retro Live Online
March 27

Despite being an online-only affair, this sale is as replete as ever with competition cars, including a 1960 Lotus 19 Monte Carlo that was driven by greats including Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Innes Ireland and Jim Clark.

H&H Imperial War Museum, Duxford
April 14

Among the highlights here is a 1953 Jaguar XK120 that has been in the same ownership since 1968. Purists might balk at the fact that it was converted (decades ago) from a fixed-head car – but it was a superb job, and at an estimate £60,000-£70,000, it could be half the price of a factory version.

Bonhams MPH, Bicester
March 20

As this issue went to press, consignments were still arriving for the latest MPH sale of more affordable classics. As well as some interesting competition cars, an impressive replica of the Batmobile will also be up for grabs.