Monterey

16-17 August 2013

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Lot 246

1978 Jaguar XJ-S Group 44 Trans-Am Race Car

  • Chassis no. 78-44
  • Engine no. XJS-003

Sold for $154,000


Est. 500 bhp, 5,343 cc single overhead-camshaft V-12 engine with six Weber 44 IDF carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front and rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

  • Winner of the 1978 Trans-Am Driver’s and Manufacturer’s Championships
  • Campaigned by the legendary Bob Tullius and his Group 44
  • Recent mechanical restoration by a Jaguar expert
  • FIVA Passport and FIA papers
  • Only two owners from new


The story of chassis number 78-44 centers upon Bob Tullius, a U.S. Air Force veteran who began racing in 1961 and really started making a name for himself in the Trans-Am series in 1966. By the time he retired 20 years later, Tullius had competed in 60 Trans-Am races and won 21 of them, making him the second most winning driver in the series’ history. Tullius raced under the banner of Group 44, a team he founded (and named for his number) that straddled the gap between professional sponsorship and amateur talent. Finished in the green and white Quaker State livery, Group 44’s successful cars were a mainstay of Trans-Am and IMSA racing during the 1970s and early 1980s, setting a standard that has rarely been equaled.



Group 44’s burgeoning success in Trans-Am during the mid-1970s was recognized as an opportunity by Michael Dale, Jaguar’s vice-president of sales. Jaguar’s parent company, British Leyland, had no interest in sponsoring a race program, but Dale knew that a competition variant of the company’s new XJ-S, the coolly received replacement for the discontinued E-Type, might be just the thing to drum up interest and publicity for the new model. With his strong track record and history of racing various Jaguars, Tullius and his Group 44 were the perfect candidates, and Dale soon contacted the driver about the possibility of entering an XJ-S in Trans-Am.



For the 1977 season, Tullius accepted a stock factory XJ-S, which project manager and occasional driver Brian Fuerstenau and crew chief Lawton “Lanky” Foushee modified in preparation for the rigors of Trans-Am racing. Competing in the series’ Category I division, the Group 44 XJ-S took Tullius to the 1977 Driver’s Championship.



The following year, it was decided that a lighter, more purpose-built car would be required to remain competitive, and the Coventry factory accordingly acid-dipped an XJ-S body to shave off weight and then delivered the shell to Group 44 in Falls Church, Virginia. Fuerstenau and Foushee built the acid-dipped shell into the car here. Among other pure racing components, they added a 32-gallon fuel cell and installed one of the 5.3-liter Jaguar V-12 engines that they had modified with six Weber carburetors in place of the fuel injectors, lifting power output to approximately 500 horsepower.



Though 78-44 started slowly in the 1978 ten-race schedule, placing 9th at the first contest at Sears Point, California, on May 21, successive outings saw vast improvement, with a 2nd place finish at Westwood, British Columbia, on June 4, and a 3rd place at Portland, Oregon, on June 11. The Mont Tremblant race at St. Jovite, Quebec, on June 25, proved to be 78-44’s first win, leading a string of seven consecutive victories to close out the season.



A checkered flag at Road America on September 4th sealed Tullius’s claim to the 1978 Driver’s Championship, while the Manufacturer’s Championship was clinched with a win at the season’s final contest, the Copa Mexico Trans-Am in Mexico City on November 5. As the newly crowned champion of the 1978 Trans-Am Category I season, 78-44 was entered three weeks later at IMSA’s Camel GT season-ending 250-mile Challenge at Daytona, where the car encountered a power steering issue while running in 3rd place, yet it still managed to finish in 9th place.



Following the 1978 season, this champion XJ-S was retired and stored by Mr. Tullius for a period of roughly 30 years, until December 2007, when the car was acquired by the consignor, one of the United States’ most renowned Jaguar enthusiasts. Recognizing the phenomenal car’s potential as a legitimate historic racer, the consignor soon commissioned Chris Keith-Lucas’s esteemed CKL Developments, in East Sussex, England, to conduct a mechanical restoration, including a full engine rebuild and the replacement or renewal of every mechanical component. Following the completion of this exacting work in early 2013, the consignor procured two desirable certifications for vintage racing, an FIA Historic Technical Passport and a FIVA Passport.



This Jaguar was also displayed at the 2011 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at a special tribute to the Jaguar E-Type. Chassis 78-44 is accompanied by its original SCCA Vehicle Log Book for the 1978 Trans-Am season, a spare set of Jongbloed wheels with Goodyear racing tires, and numerous trophies and slides, as well as the FIA and FIVA paperwork. This purpose-built race car has been cosmetically untouched since its outing at Daytona in late 1978, and it is a cornerstone of the Group 44 legend and a significant chapter in Coventry’s racing history. The ravishing two-owner silhouette XJ-S should attract the attention of Jaguar connoisseurs far and wide, and it promises a celebrated future in vintage competition and finer concours d’elegance.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle is a race car and will, therefore, be offered on a Bill of Sale.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

jonathan@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more