From spare parts to star cars

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Jaguar’s specialist’s slideline business pays homeage to marque design legend

Jaguar enthusiasts won’t take long to twig that the Sayer Selection is named after the marque’s celebrated designer, former aircraft engineer Malcolm Sayer, who used his aerodynamic skills to help create the C-, D- and E-types – and even the prototype of the XJ-S (although that car wasn’t launched until after his untimely death at the young age of 53).

As the name implies, the Sayer Selection comprises a small, carefully curated inventory of cars for sale, most of which are Jaguars. More significantly, however, the business is the sister company of the long established and highly respected historic Jaguar engineering specialist M&C Wilkinson, which has operated from its rural base outside Doncaster since 1988.

Marque fanatic and one-time art teacher Mike Wilkinson began selling used Jaguar parts as a glorified hobby during the 1970s, in order to raise the funds to go motor racing, but made the business his full-time profession after his school relocated.

In 1990 Wilkinson built an FIA specification lightweight E-type – which achieved victory in numerous historic events, including the prestigious Manx Classic – before relegating his racing activities to the back burner as he set about developing the business.

In around 2003, however, he returned to the driving seat to compete in another of his E-types, registration AFW 165A, pictured here, which has gone on to become one of the most recognised and successful Jaguars on the classic racing scene having racked up a raft of victories and lap records at circuits around the UK and Europe.

“Like most competition E-types, it’s based on a left-hand-drive 3.8 that was re-imported from America,” says Wilkinson. “I originally built it so I could go racing as an escape from the daily business of selling parts and restoring and repairing cars, but it became a development vehicle and is now what could be described as ‘fully loaded’ with an aluminium bonnet, back end and engine block, dry sump lubrication and our own, specially developed differentials.”

Wilkinson prefers not to calculate the cost of bringing the car to its current level, which has included carrying out bespoke work with top motorsport tuning houses such as Nicholson McLaren and Peter Lander’s Sigma Engineering. As a result, AFW 165A has achieved class lap records at circuits including Oulton Park and Donington and outright victories at the Spa Spring festival, the Oulton Park Gold Cup, the HSCC Guards Trophy and the Masters Gentleman Driver series (among many others).

“At least 10 years of development work has gone into the car and it has formed the basis for the Sayer Ultimate E-types that we build to order at a price of about £300,000 each. Although it hasn’t been raced for a couple of years, the car has been fully recommissioned and is ready to compete in FIA Appendix K events. Hopefully, whoever buys it will keep us involved in its future as it’s a very high-specification car that we know inside out.”

Anyone interested in the car should note that it is due to take part in a private test day at Goodwood Motor Circuit on August 8, when it will be put through its paces by professional driver and coach Nigel Greensall.

Contact M&C Wilkinson in advance to discuss the possibility of attending.

www.sayerselection.com


Time traveller

Restored BMC original found at a disused railway station

If you have an entry for September’s Goodwood Revival but are lacking a suitably vintage-looking vehicle in which to carry your racing car, Matt Moore of Leicestershire-based Heritage Vehicle Sales could have the solution in the form of this 1959 BMC transporter.

The Pininfarina-designed truck is one of 50 built by the celebrated bus and coachbuilder Marshall Motor Bodies of Cambridge. They were made to be driven around the UK and Europe, serving as mobile classrooms in which mechanics were taught how to work on the then-new Mini and its A-series engine.

The vehicles were built to a high standard, using an aluminium framework and skin, and had sufficient space inside to accommodate nine ‘students’ and their instructors, while a hydraulically operated tailgate with integral, slide-out ramps made light work of loading and unloading cars.

Discovered by the previous owner at a disused railway station in the 1990s, this particular transporter subsequently underwent a decade-long restoration. During this it emerged that it had once served the BMC competitions department, which used it as a rolling spare-parts store and workshop that supported the works rally programme.

Now configured with a four-seater cab and workshop, the truck currently runs a six-litre, turbocharged Cummins diesel driving through a six-speed gearbox and a two-speed axle – a set-up that provides a 60-65mph cruising speed and makes the vehicle more practical. Sticklers for originality will be happy to hear that the original 5.1-litre BMC engine is included in the sale. It is listed at £69,995.

www.heritagevehiclesales.com