Equipe Endeavour Jaguar Mk I
Sopwith’s Mk I car was entered into the British Saloon Car Championship race series. Brandishing the iconic ‘400 plate’ of the Endeavour team, IVA 400 wnet on to win every race in which it is entered, including Goodwood, Aintree and Silverstone, often against sister Jaguar, the new Buy 1.
During its impressive single race season, the Mk I’s only loss is at the Snetterton 100-mile race, co-driven by Jack Sears. After setting pole position and the fastest lap, the vehicle was leading the field when, in the dying minutes of the race, the car lost its brakes and settled in second place to Sopwith’s great friend (and essential part of the Equipe Endeavour team,) Sir Gawaine Baillie, in his own Jaguar Mk I.
Following the tragic loss of Ivor Bueb in August 1959, the Jaguar was raced again by Sears and Sir Gawaine to further success, including a win at Brands Hatch. However, in 1960, with the Mk II and its 3.8 engine closely following on, Sopwith is forced to retire the sprinter and it is taken away from the public domain.
IVA 400 remained with Sir Gawaine and other Equipe Endeavour race team vehicles for a number of years and subsequently fell into the hands of an enthusiast whose plans to rebuild the vehicle never come to fruition.
After multiple race wins, including a victory at the Goodwood International Easter Monday meeting; in a single race season, IVA 400 proved itself to be, without exception, the most successful competition Mk I of all time.
Renovation to original race specification
It is sometime later when Michael Wilkinson, Jaguar specialist of M&C Wilkinson Ltd, recognises the historical significance of the vehicle and acquires the Mark I on behalf of Chris Scragg, himself a championship winning historic car racer.
Mike set about researching the works specification for the car, as he and Chris were keen to ensure originality and acquires a copy of the 1959 build sheet ‘3.4-Litre Special Competition Cars.’ This important period document confirms the chassis numbers, special features and the S-spec engine.
Among other race modifications, the Mark Is had been fitted with unique straight port heads, with triple 2in SU semi-downdraught/30 degree carburettors; fast road cams and aluminium bonnet, boot lid and doors. The seats and bumpers, also made in aluminium, were supplied by Sopwith himself.
The vehicle was taken to Sigma Engineering in Dorset where Peter Lander, an expert in straight six engines, demonstrated that, on the rollers, it made around 230bhp.
Mike concedes that the car could be made faster by replacing the original Koni shocks and fast road cams, or powered by a Coventry six engine, however, it is agreed that originality of specification is more important.
With the restoration fully complete, this historically important works competition Mark I is now race ready and able to take up its invitation to contend the Sopwith Cup at Goodwood. A fitting race for this truly iconic vehicle.