When Tony Southgate saw the engine around which he had to design a new Group C car, he did two things: utter a profanity under his breath and reach for a bandsaw. The swearword was a reaction to the size of the V12 lump in front of him, the bandsaw a tool with which to try to pare it down into a form suitable to go into the back of a pure-bred racing prototype. That car was to be a Jaguar, the first of a line of 12-cylinder machines built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing that would go on to win the Le Mans and Daytona 24-hour classics two times apiece, not to mention a pair of world titles.
That’s a pretty decent haul for a car powered by an engine that Southgate describes as “the size of a fish-and-chip shop”. He was no stranger to designing V12 racing cars — he’d penned Formula 1 machinery for BRM, Shadow and Osella with engines of such a configuration — but this one was out of a road car and had first seen service in Jaguar’s Series 3 E-type back in the early 1970s.
There was, Southgate points out, no debate about the choice of engine when he began work at TWR as a freelancer at the back end of 1984.