Jaguar on the Prowl in Wales

 

How Wales helped create a classic

Fleet of classic Jaguar cars at Usk Reservoir

Classic Jaguar cars, Usk Reservoir, Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons

 

The Jaguar E-Type isn’t just the most beautiful car ever made. In 1957 the prototype raced along winding Welsh roads to prove that it was also one of the fastest. Sixty years on, a fleet of historic Jaguar sports cars recreates that classic route between Brecon and Carmarthen.

Close up of a classic Jaguar

Classic Jaguar at Castle Hotel, Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons - Chassis no: 13 one of the original 3 Jaguar E Types that were at the Scottish Motor Show in 1961 driven by Martin Lane of Lanes Cars E Type Specialists

Sixty years ago, in the spring of 1957, an extraordinary sports car emerged from Jaguar’s experimental department.  The E1A was the prototype of the Jaguar E-type, a car which defined the spirit of the 1960s. Described by Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car ever made”, the E-Type became an instant classic, driven by glitterati like Frank Sinatra and Princess Grace.

Five classic Jaguars lined up at Usk Reservoir

Jaguars at Usk Reservoir, Brecon Beacons National Park

But the car’s astonishing performance and world-beating potential was first proved on the roads of Wales. And to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a legendary Welsh journey, on Saturday 15 July a group of Jaguar enthusiasts are recreating the original test route between Brecon and Carmarthen.

Around 24 rare Jaguar sports cars are taking part, including iconic models like the XK120, XK150, C-Type, D-Type and (of course) several E-Types. You can see the cars as they drive along the route, and also at special stops in Brecon, Carmarthen and Pendine.

The Welsh connection

Close up of a Jaguar logo

Jaguar Rally 2017, Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons

The E-Type project was top secret, but in 1957 Jaguar lent the prototype to the High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire, Lt Col Christopher Jennings, who also happened to be editor of The Motor magazine. Jennings tested cars on his favourite route between Brecon and Carmarthen; his quickest run had been in an Aston Martin powered by a Le Mans race engine. Jaguar was curious to discover how their new model would fare.

Close up of a classic Jaguar logo

Jaguar Rally 2017, Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons

At 7am on a perfect May morning in 1957, Jennings set off in the Jaguar from his home in Carmarthenshire, accompanied by his wife Margaret, who was herself a champion racing driver. “We made a 20-mile warming-up run and then ‘had a go’,” he reported. “The result was almost fantastic. The first 20 miles from Carmarthen to Llandovery was covered at an average of just over 70mph and Brecon was reached in 43 minutes … the return journey was made at a fast touring speed by my wife but nevertheless equalled the Aston Martin record of 50 minutes. At no time did we exceed 120mph. It will be seen therefore that the new Jaguar is a potential world beater.”

Jennings was absolutely right.  Around 72,000 E-Types were built between 1961 and 1975, and the car’s sheer beauty still bewitches today: in January 2017, a rare example sold for almost £6 million.

 

Where and when

Classic Jaguars at Castle Hotel in Brecon

Classic Jaguars at the Castle Hotel, Mid Wales and Brecon

 

On 11am on Saturday 15 July, the fleet of 24 historic Jaguars will be flagged off from the Castle Hotel in Brecon by the Mayor of Brecon, VIP guests and local school children. The convoy will head along the A40 to Llandovery, take the A4069 down the Tywi Valley to Llangadog, and the A40 to Llandeilo (they’ll pass through the town at around 11.30am). From here, they’ll take the B4300 to Carmarthen, where the Jaguars will be on display in the St Catherine’s Walk shopping centre from around 12pm to 1.30pm.  The cars then meet at Pendine Museum of Speed for 3.30pm, where they will be on display near the sands on which all the early land speed records were set. The cars set off on their return trip to Brecon in the late afternoon.

The class of 2017 will, however, be travelling at rather more sedate speeds than Lt Col Jennings and his wife did 60 years ago. And when the scenery is as beautiful as the cars, that’s a very good thing.

Jeff Davis – It was a pleasure to have been invited to take part in this celebration of this little known part of the Jaguar E Type History driving Chassis number 13 which was one of the three original Scottish Motor Show Stand Jaguar E Type’s in 1962 through Carmarthenshire many thanks Marin Lane

This article is available in full at:  http://www.visitwales.com/holidays-breaks/sightseeing-and-tours/jaguar-on-the-prowl

Jaguar E-Type

  • Jaguar E-Type Parts

  • General

    Servicing