While I was checking out the classic cars entered for sale at Mossgreen-Webb’s classic car auction, held at Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Display Hall at MOTAT on June 18, I found myself standing next to a classic racecar that I first saw on Saturday, January 8, 1983. Back then I snapped a few shots of the car as it lined up for the start of the Sports Sedan series race in support of the 1983 NZ Grand Prix held at Pukekohe Park.

The car in question was a much-modified Jaguar Mk 2, at that time owned and raced by Clive Gott. Even with its bulging wheel-arches and deep front spoiler, the dark blue Jaguar looked like a throwback to the sixties and seemed out of place on the starting grid alongside Wayne Huxford and Ian Munt’s V8 Capris and Trevor Crowe’s radical pink and white Zap Starlet.

The Jaguar posted a DNF in both races that day, but the rampant roar of its straight-six XK engine certainly livened up the day, a welcome contrast to all its V8-powered rivals.

The photographs I took were filed away and remained unseen for just over a decade until I included one of those photos in a magazine I was writing for in 1994 and asked if any readers knew if the Jaguar was still around. Very quickly, I received a reply from the Jaguar’s current owner, Mike John.

Coincidentally, in December 1994, Mike John would step into national view making his initial announcement concerning a new motorsport endeavour – Targa New Zealand. This Jaguar Mk 2 would bring me into contact for the first time with Mike and, a year later, a long involvement with Targa NZ.

However, lets return to the subject of this feature – a Mk 2 Jaguar that seems to have picked up two names over the years; the ‘Silcock Jaguar’ or the ‘Metropolitan Cranes Jaguar’.

Origins

In 1969, with financial backing from Don McMillan, the owner of Metropolitan Cranes, Christchurch Jaguar enthusiast Dave Silcock began to build a 3.8 Jaguar Mk 2 to take advantage of the upper capacity limit of the Bank of New South Wales race series, which effectively replaced the ‘anything goes’ Allcomers series. Painted in deep blue set off with gold signage and alloy wheels, the subtly modified Jaguar made its racing debut with Dave Silcock at the wheel. While the big Jag couldn’t hope to compete with the lighter and more nimble Escort Twin Cams that came to dominate the series, Silcock impressed with his driving ability.

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