London Concours 2024 to Celebrate Glorious V12s this June

The London Concours is delighted to announce that this June’s show will feature a celebration of that most evocative automotive ingredient: the V12 engine. Running from June 4th to 6th at the Honourable Artillery Company in the heart of the City, the class will look back on the history of the V12, the beating heart of some of the greatest and most famous cars to grace our roads over the decades.

Jaguar XJ13 at Mira Test Track

At the centre of our V12 display this June is going to be something truly special: the priceless, one-off, Jaguar XJ13 prototype. Designed by lead Jaguar engineer William Heynes, the XJ13 was conceived to take the fight to Ferrari and the other established names at Le Mans in the mid 1960s. It was advanced in terms of its construction, a true featherweight, tipping the scales at just under 1000kg, despite having a substantial, 5.0-litre V12 mounted behind the driver.

The stunning motor – which, innovatively, was incorporated into the chassis as a stressed member – produced 502bhp at a heady 7600rpm, driving the rear wheels through a five-speed manual ZF ‘box. Unfortunately, by the time the prototype had been completed in 1966, Jaguar was in the midst of merging with BMC, and top-level racing had fallen down the management team’s agenda. As a result, the ground-breaking XJ13 sadly never raced. It remains a mesmerising thing, offering a tantalising glimpse of what might have been for Jaguar.

Also on show will be another unique machine that takes the concept of a V12 engined road car to its absolute extreme: a certain 27-litre V12 Rolls-Royce. It is, of course, John Dodd’s legendary ‘The Beast’ – dubbed the ‘Super Rolls’ by the BBC.

With a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine under that long bonnet, it was rumoured to pack between 750 and 1000bhp, and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records aa the “the world’s most powerful car” in 1977. Dodd was known to have extensively exercised ‘The Beast’ on Germany’s Autobahns in period, presumably surprising a few drivers of potent BMWs and Mercedes in the process. The RAC recorded it hitting 183mph in the hands of a very brave test driver, although it was believed that it was a true 200mph car. Another wonderful, thunderous, expression of British engineering ingenuity.

The wild Lamborghini Diablo will also be in attendance, bringing a dash of ‘90s excess to proceedings. For a generation of car enthusiasts who came of age in the ‘90s – remains the ultimate poster supercar. Introduced in 1990 as a successor to the Countach, the Diablo featured a more futuristic design – low, wide and outrageous – penned again by master designer, Marcello Gandini.

The Diablo featured a mid-mounted V12, initially a dual overhead cam 5.7-litre unit with four valves per-cylinder. It put out 485bhp and was good for 202mph flat out – very brisk for 1990. The Diablo remained in production until 2001, tamed only slightly following Audi’s takeover of the company. A V12 Sant’Agata icon that acts as a bridge between the fearsome old-school Lamborghinis, and the brand’s marginally saner, 21st century creations.

A British V12 supercar created for the new millennium will also be on show: the wonderful Ian Callum designed Vanquish. Introduced in 2001, it perfectly combined the graceful elegance and style of a traditional grand tourer with thoroughly modern V12 muscle. It featured a sonorous 460bhp 6.0-litre V12 in standard form and up to 510bhp in the evolved Vanquish S that would come later. It provided one of the best automotive soundtracks of the noughties – a baleful howl – and could propel the sleek coupe to over 190mph. 

The Vanquish will be joined by its younger, more pugnacious sibling, the V12 Vantage. Arriving in 2009, it delivered what Aston enthusiasts had been calling for: a version of the beautifully handling Vantage, with added performance punch. It was wonderfully ‘over-engined’, with a 6.0-litre V12 crammed into the smaller Vantage body, driving through a six-speed manual box. With 510bhp – a useful gain of 90bhp over the slightly torque-light V8 model – the V12 would surge towards the horizon with a relentless ferocity. A special, brilliantly analogue Aston, and a car that clearly illustrates just how transformative a V12 engine can be.

This is just one part of this summer’s event, which will assemble some 80 machines – from classics to modern hypercars – in an oasis of green in the heart of the city of London. Stay tuned for further class announcements in the weeks and months ahead as we approach the anticipated 8th edition of London Concours.

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