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“Pink Floyd. They really are a fine advert for serious wealth, aren't they?” Pistonheads on the Gilmour/O’Rourke Carrera Panamericana exploits.
You don’t need to be a tie-dyed in the wool fan of progressive late 1960s/early 1970s rock to know that legendary rock outfit Pink Floyd is staffed by a number of true petrol-heads. Nick Mason, for example, is renowned for having one or two nice bits of kit, assuming you consider a Ferrari GTO to be ‘nice’ and frankly if you don’t, what on earth are you doing reading this? Perhaps less well known is that the band’s long term manager, Steve O’Rourke was every bit as much of a red blooded enthusiast, very much epitomising both the gentleman racer and Team Patron. His EMKA company’s largess enabled him to indulge his passion at the highest levels and he was a successful Le Mans entrant and driver. Memorably his Ferrari 512BB finished the race thanks to an on the spot purchase of a decidedly non-matching tail section from an earlier retired competitor and when running a McLaren F1 GTR, he refused to pay for a Factory aero upgrade but then spent more than the asking price on Champagne for the post fourth place finish celebrations. For us O’Rourke was the definition of someone who has got their priorities right and a gentleman racer the like of which had not been seen since Rob Walker felt obliged to change into his pinstripe suit to drive the evening stint at La Sarthe in his Delahaye in 1939. Even less common knowledge is that Dave Gilmour, the band’s guitarist and co-lead vocalist, is also something of a car nut and seeking to indulge their joint passion, along with Nick Mason they looked to one of the last long distance ‘races’ held on public roads, Mexico’s Carrera Panamericana. Run for cars that sort of ran in the original 1950 to 1954 no holds barred event on sort of closed roads as a sort of regularity event, the revived Carrera was a throwback to less constrained times and a welcome alternative to the more restricted events held in Europe and North America.
With a tradition of big, strong ol’ American saloon cars from the likes of Ford and Chevrolet faring well in the original events alongside the exotic Sports Racers from Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia, our intrepid duo put a British spin on this and chose a heavily modified Jaguar MK2 to tackle the 1990 event. The usual tricks of the trade were employed preparing the car, from a tuned engine to uprated suspension and a stripped and strengthened body-shell. With one rear door welded shut. Obviously. A two door one side, four door the other set up by the law of averages must make this the only three door MK2 in existence, something akin to an XK 150 Coupe and MK2’s love child and gloriously eccentric for all that.
After unfortunately taking an early bath on the Carrera due mechanical woes, the Jaguar was repatriated to the UK by O’Rourke and registered in his name in 1991. It was then sold without its engine and gearbox to a Mr Beckett, along with the mortal remains of a Proteus C-Type Jaguar that O’Rourke and Gilmour had crashed rather severely in the 1991 event, having obviously had their appetites wetted by the MK2. The super-saloon slumbered in an English barn for the some twenty years until it was purchased by the vendor in 2013 and he then embarked on a recently completed total restoration. Looking at the car today and comparing it to photos of it pre-restoration, it will come as no surprise to even the slightly informed that this work cost a not inconsiderable amount of money. The owner claims he has not had the courage to add all the bills up but, spoiler alert, we totted up the first thirty or so in the file and comfortably cleared £25,000 and we hadn’t got to those for the engine…
Those bills read like a Who’s Who of Jaguar and race preparation experts from Demon Tweaks, Pro Alloy, Jag Shop, Carlton Autos Ltd and David Manners Ltd to Ridgard and Safety Devices. The fully rebuilt 300 plus BHP engine nestling under the louvered bonnet was given a final tweak by Tom on the Airey Tuning Company’s rolling road and exhaling through its stainless steel twin piped Falcon exhaust, it now sounds crisp and purposeful; not surprising to us as we’ve known Tom’s excellent work for over 50 years now. To match that engine the gearbox and overdrive were also rebuilt and the custom made wire wheels refurbished - is that re-bespoked? – and fitted with new tyres.
The fully Aeroquiped aluminium fuel tank and Facet fuel pump now share boot space with the battery in the Jaguar’s boot. Koni shock absorbers and a heavy duty anti-roll bar are among the suspension upgrades while an aluminium radiator and modern electric fan ensure the engine stays cool in South America as well as southern England. Twin brake servos operated via a Tilton pedal box boost a front/rear split circuit to ensure the whole package can be bought to a timely halt when needed.
The stripped interior sports a suitably battered wood-rim wheel that was on the car when the vendor purchased it and it is full of competition oriented details such as aircraft style toggle switches, the one for the overdrive being mounted on the gear lever. A pair of Ridgard seats ensure driver and co-driver will remain comfortable over a long distance event, protected by a new six point Safety Devices roll cage.
We would describe the fresh paint finish, carefully applied to preserve the drivers’ blood group information on the off-side front wing, as ‘race suitable’ as is what chrome-work remains on the car with some dullness on the door handles and a little flaking on the front bumper though the car might be suited to running without that altogether. The underside is very solid indeed and well protected with sealant.
The well-stocked History File contains not only the invoices mentioned above but also a British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate and current V5C showing Steve O’Rourke as the previous owner.
A road-registered racer that will appeal to both the Jaguar enthusiast and rock aficionado alike we feel.
Registration number: 140 JWP
Chassis Number: 162549 BW