HWM Jaguar SPC 982
For many years I wrote race reports and track tests for Jaguar World, Octane, Motor Sport, Autosport and assorted others .
Alas and inevitably rising costs and diminishing readers resulted in many mainstream journals cutting back on freelance contributions some years ago, preferring to use ‘staffers’ if they could.
Here is one such outing from 2005, the ex-Phil Scragg HWM Jaguar, my favourite car from the mainly Jaguar powered machines that I was privileged to drive from 1996-2014.
HWM stood for Hersham & Walton Motors at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey who were originally Citroen distributers with a side line in ‘fast cars’. The owners were George Abecassis (21 March 1913-18 December 1991), pre-war racing driver of Altas whose outings were then financed by a petrol station in Cranford, near to what became Heathrow Airport, later of Bomber Command and much later a Facel Vega and Aston Martin dealer that still exists.
Meanwhile the very tall John Heath, ex-Talbot, Lagonda and Packard in Britain pre-WW2, where he was a salesman, soon gravitated to Hersham, near Weybridge in Surrey to begin his career as an engineer and occasional racer.
Alas Heath ( 1 June 1914-1May 1956) was fatally injured during the 1956 Mille Miglia when he slid into a ditch in the new HWM Jaguar HWM 1 (the first HWM 1 appeared in 1953), the car turning over and crushing the driver, shattering his rib cage and penetrating his lungs.
The third person of this article, Phil Scragg, was a textiles manufacturer and hillclimb/sprint racing specialist who had first bought an XK Jaguar powered HW-Alta (RPG 418) from HWM in 1951. In 1956 he bought the new HWM Jaguar (714004) SPC 982 with which he had much success.
Hillclimb specialist Scragg preferred his cars to have cycle wing mudguards for use on the narrow British hills. He had many class victories in SPC 982 and won the sportscar hillclimb championship with it in 1959. Later he continued his success in a similarly bodied Lister Jaguar (also successfully fielding a lightweight E type in 1963/4) and towards the end of his full time career a Lola T70. Tragically Scragg died whilst racing at Silverstone in 1972 and even more tragically his son was killed in a road accident returning to the funeral of his father.
So this is SPC 982 back in 2005, no roll cage, no belts (when I asked what would happen if I crashed a person nearby said, “that’s easy dear boy, you will go into f…ing orbit”), basically zero protection.
To start with the car had little fuel on board and Silverstone’s pumps were dry so we had to drive the HWM down the Towcester bypass for some go juice at a local garage, terrifying several innocent motorists en route with its unsilenced twin side exhausts. The totally exposed cockpit and hurricane force wind was accompanied by the scenery coming at you like a speeded up film.
The advanced chassis design featured a non-parallel twin tube frame, split de Dion rear axle with coil springs all round and unequal length front wishbones. Nevertheless it retained the now passé Alfin drum brakes. These were self adjusting, 13 inch diameter front and 12 inch at the rear by 2.5 inches wide (no HWM ever used disc brakes in period). However they were very effective in the dry until they heated up and would stop dead in 20 feet at 30 mph
The very pretty 16 inch diameter Borrani wire wheels look like later additions but were in fact tailor made for the car with offset 6.5J rear rims at a time when Jaguar D types made do with 5.0 inch rims. It was the only HWM to use a ‘wide angle’ 35/40 D type engine in period, (in 2005 these 3.8 litre engines typically made 300-340 bhp depending upon specification) but nowadays 360 or more is commonplace with sealed units made by Jaguar allegedly developing 405 bhp. Total weight is approximately 950kgs (2090 lbs.)
I drove the car carefully at Silverstone given its uniqueness and value but the real problem was the sheer number of apparently unaware would be racers complete with tunnel vision that you had to avoid. Not like Goodwood that controls such problems.
The images show:
1) Racer James Wood who took my then girlfriend and now wife Sarah around Silverstone in the HWM, brave girl, the then owner Stephen Curtis and myself in the pits.
2) A side view of the HWM showing its very long cockpit although it looks here as if the seat has moved backwards on its rails (the only Jaguar powered car I ever drove that had so much leg room).
3) A nice shot which shows off the offset Borrani wire wheels.
4) The suicide cockpit with its leather bound, flimsy aluminium bucket seats, the 4 speed D type gearbox whose high ratio bottom (1st) gear offered 70 mph 6) The legendary 6 cylinder twin cam Jaguar motor with its dry sump, wide angle cylinder head and 45 DCO3 Weber carburettors.
5) The beautiful Borrani wire wheels, this the wider rear 6.5J rim.
A proper piece of kit, seriously fast, seriously impressive and the very antithesis of latter day, bland, soulless, technology that has spoilt all the fun and dumbed down sensations to acceleration only.
With many thanks to John Colleywho photographed the day.