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Dad, can I borrow your car?

Jaguar XJR-12 chassis 990 led at Le Mans in 1990, and finished second in 1991. It had been 29 years since a Brundle last drove it

The look on Martin Brundle’s face the minute he walks into the garage at Silverstone is a picture. There’s an instant flicker of recognition. The same reaction as meeting an old friend.

That’s exactly what’s happening here. These two haven’t seen each other for 29 years, but today is the unexpected reunion. The moment is made even sweeter by the presence of Alex Brundle – Martin’s son and current FIA World Endurance Championship racer – who’s come along to get a feel for his father’s past. He’s getting the chance to jump into his father’s seat and relive a key moment in the family’s racing legacy.

The old friend waiting for them is the Jaguar XJR-12. It’s unquestionably one of the finest racing Jaguars ever built, and it’s a car that’s been kind to the Brundle family.

Moments after 16.00 on Sunday June 17, 1990, Martin’s dream of winning Le Mans came true with this model, but not actually this exact chassis.

Jaguar’s Le Mans success in 1988 had kick-started a fevered wave of interest among fans back home. After years of German domination, the Union Flag was flying on the top step at La Sarthe again. And for 1990 the stakes were even higher as four major manufacturers – Jaguar, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota – were vying for victory during perhaps the ultimate iteration of the powerhungry Group C era.

Brundle had started the race in XJR-12 chassis 990, the very car we have here. It was his lucky car, an evolution of XJR-9 chassis 588, the machine that had powered him to the 1988 FIA World Sports-Prototype Championship. But it’s an ironic twist that it let him down in France, and it was only a late and controversial team shuffle that saved the dream of a British driver winning Le Mans in a British car that year.

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About Motor Sport Magazine

Featuring our exclusive lead story on Martin Brundle being reunited with his Jaguar XJR-12, an extract from Gordon Murray's new book, and our tribute to the phenomenal driver that was Niki Lauda.