The small, resourceful racing team from Edinburgh, Scotland was founded with a meagre budget in November 1951 by F1 racing driver-turned entrepreneur David Murray. The outfit would go on to defy all odds by grabbing back-to-back victories at Le Mans, becoming champions in 1956 and 1957. The achievements were nothing short of remarkable. Murray’s ‘Team Scotland’ was based at Merchiston Mews, a cobble-laden lane of garages in suburban Edinburgh. Backed by fellow Scottish motor racing enthusiasts, and the talents of mechanic ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, the team was quickly regarded as one of the most potent forces in the country, competing at three successive F1 British Grand Prix from 1952-54. Ecurie Ecosse would depart Formula One to concentrate primarily on sportscar events from 1956.
Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans drivers Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson made history in 1956 by winning the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The small team shook the world of motor racing as they overcame giants such as Ferrari, Lotus and Maserati to claim their laurels. The following year, the team again appeared at Le Mans and astonishingly managed to do it all again – this time securing a stunning 1-2 finish. The masterful Ron Flockhart partnered with Ivor Bueb and claimed first position, with fellow teammates Ninian Sanderson and John Lawrence coming a admirable second. Flockhart and Bueb’s distance record of 4,397km would not be surpassed until 1961. The team would go on to notch up an incredible 68 racing victories in just 10 seasons. The victories at Le Mans had captured the imagination of the British public, and their distinctive Saltire-blue metallic painted Jaguar D-Types had become icons in their own right. Edinburgh’s greatest racing team disbanded in 1972 but wouldn’t disappear for too long. The team reformed in 1982 under the astute leadership of Hugh McCaig, and would go on to taste success on a number of occasions at various major racing events.
Today the company is run by Hugh’s son, Alasdair McCaig, and he said; “I’m thrilled to partner with Building the Legend and Design Q in bringing LM69 to life. It is incredibly exciting to follow a dream and see what my forebears might have created in the late 1960s, in what is still regarded as the golden age of Le Mans”.
Building the Legend
From small beginnings in his workshop in Coventry, England, engineer Neville Swales has been quietly creating meticulously engineered cars inspired by Jaguar’s 1966 XJ13 Le Mans Prototype. That car was originally designed to return Jaguar to their glory days at Le Mans and take on the might of Ford and Ferrari. Sadly, Jaguar’s car never turned a wheel in anger. Neville’s cars take their inspiration from the 1966 Jaguar XJ13 Le Mans Prototype as it first left the Competition Department – as Malcolm Sayer envisaged it - before it was crashed at MIRA and rebuilt in 1972/73 by Jaguar apprentices.
The first completed car was a finalist in the 2016 International Historic Motoring Awards where it stood shoulder-to-shoulder against such icons as the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours winning Ford GT40 and the 1956 Le Mans winning Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type. Neville’s first car has since been joined by a limited number of customer cars built to the same exacting standard. Recreating the gorgeous Jaguar XJ13 fired Neville’s imagination. As a huge admirer of the legendary Malcolm Sayer, a trained aerodynamicist, who helped create many iconic Jaguars under the watchful eye of Jaguar’s founder Sir William Lyons. Sayers was largely responsible for the design of Jaguars C, D & E-types before he penned the iconic XJ13. The XJ13 never finished its development due to a combination of rule changes at Le Mans, and the corporate demands upon finances when Jaguar was absorbed into the BMC behemoth.
However, Neville always harboured an ambition to design and engineer a car that would combine his knowledge and all that was great about late 1960s race cars – cars like the Ferrari 312P, the Porsche 908, the Alpine A220, the Lola T70 and the mighty Ford GT40.
Design Q, founded in 1997, is an internationally recognised,multi-award winning automotive & aviation design consultancy. CEO Howard Guy was a former Principal Designer at Jaguar from 1987 to 1997 and worked on the design of the XJ & XJR. Working alongside Swales with his design team, Howard has acted as a catalyst for this project and proposed that Swales seek the backing and expertise of Ecurie Ecosse due to their historical involvement with Le Mans racing. Howard’s vision has led to a fantastic opportunity to create something truly unique, a car that pays homage to a phenomenal era, a brilliant race team, and the event that inspired everything, the Le Mans 24 hours.
For over 20 years, Design Q has worked with the biggest names in the car industry. Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, Bentley, Land Rover and Jaguar are just a few. They have provided services such as Design, Engineering, CAD, Colour & Material specification, Prototype & Show Car manufacture, and High-Quality Visualisation Imagery. Design Q also undertakes bespoke design commissions for individual customers who desire their own automotive product and working directly with the client or their partners to achieve a car of their dreams. Design Q has a reputation for providing their clients with the best quality designs and imaginative solutions. The talented team of automotive designers at Design Q were tasked with designing a car that could have raced at Le Mans in 1969. With this unique brief, strict guidelines had to be set. As the car was due to race in 1969, no technology post-1968 could be used, and engineering and design influences of competitors cars up to and through the 1968 season could be adopted. FIA regulations for 1969 would have to be honoured.
The race team that will help bring this to fruition is the famous Ecurie Ecosse, the very team that brought Le Mans success to Jaguar in 1956 and 1957. The finished design is a unique Ecurie Ecosse race car that could have raced at Le Mans in 1969 if Ecurie Ecosse had created their own car, the LM69.
Alasdair McCaig, managing director of Ecurie Ecosse, said; “When I first saw the design for LM69 I was quite overwhelmed. It is achingly beautiful, yet with the menace and purposefulness that it is designed to win the greatest race on earth! I’m sure that Jackie Oliver and Jacky Ickyx, who won the race in 1969 in their GT40, would have had a major competitor to worry about had this car been on the Le Mans grid 49 years ago. Imagine that!”