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Known as the Owen Jaguar, the car was built in 1958 by Freddie Owen, a traditional coach builder whose family firm was forced out of its London Oxford Street base due to the blitz in 1940.
With his company ceasing to trade and war raging across Europe, Owen took his skills to Handley Page, a leading British aircraft manufacturer noted for its pioneering role in aviation history and for producing heavy bombers and large aircraft. It was here he honed his aerodynamic knowledge in relation to body shape and weight saving, two facets that would go on to be synonymous with the cars he went on to design.
Following the war, Owen worked closely with the racing departments at BRM and Jaguar and in 1959 he developed and built the Owen Jaguar – an individual car that saw a 3.4 litre Jaguar engine mounted on his own space frame chassis and housed under an aluminium body that he also designed himself.
Preceding the world famous E-Type Jaguar by two years, the Owen Jaguar went on to be campaigned throughout the 1960s and 70s by a host of leading racers, including the legendary driver and motorsport historian Alec Francis Rivers-Fletcher.
The car was then absorbed into two private collections for the next thirty years. It was first held by a collector in Belgium, who raced it a couple of times, before it was purchased by renowned record producer Pete Waterman, who is famous for being the musical talent behind a huge amount of number one acts, including Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Donna Summer.
The car remained in Waterman’s extensive collection of Jaguars and Ferraris for two decades and despite only driving it for approximately 100 miles in 20 years, he not only restored the car fully, but also ensured it was fully serviced every year.
Waterman then sold it on to former Le Mans driver Neil Cunningham who drove it in two one-hour races at Silverstone, before current owner Peter Newman bought it from him the day after the second race.
A seasoned competitor, Newman has raced a huge number of cars and motorcycles over the years and jumped at the chance to buy the Owen Jaguar when the chance arose seven years ago.
“It hasn’t done a lot of racing but it’s got a good pedigree,” said Peter who was one of the lucky 200 drivers who competed in the inaugural Chateau Impney Hill Climb in July.
“It’s a terrific course, but quite challenging,” he continued. “I over-shot the first corner. The third run was wet and then on my fourth run I ran out of petrol halfway up the hill! That was keeping the weight of the car down a bit too far!”
Peter and the Owen Jaguar competed in Class 12, Pre-1961 Sports and Sports Racing Cars over 2200cc, at 2015’s event, against formidable opponents including the Farralac Mk 2, HWM Jaguar and Chapman Mercury Mk III. However, Peter now has a great advantage against any newcomers, and we hope to see Peter rising through the ranks in 2016.