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Fitch-Whitmore Jaguar Special


Luke Skywalker
Country flag
I was fortunate to see it yesterday at "The Ascent" (a recreation of the Hershey Hillclimb). What a wonderful sounding special - it's essentially a re-bodied XK120 built and raced in the '50's, and driven with surprising verve. It's actually referred to as the Fitch Whitmore LeMans Special (and while successful, it never raced outside the US). John Fitch led such an amazing life.



Great Pumpkin
.....John Fitch led such an amazing life......

I think we can agree, Jay; that is an understatement!

From his WW II fighter pilot exploits (he shot down an ME-262 in his P51....but later ended up as a POW);
he nearly married one of the Kennedy gals (but she was killed in a plane crash);
he taugh Sam Posey to drive when he was 16 (in a Gullwing!);
his safety barriers;
the land-speed attempt he made in a Gullwing up to 150 mph (at age 87!)....and on and on and on.

He is a decendant of another John Fitch who invented the steam ship.
His step-father ran the Stutz Motor Company.
During his younger years, he lived mostly on a sailboat.

He was Pierre Levegh's co-driver when Levegh went off track in the Mercedes that caused the 1955 LeMans disaster (83 people killed).
He built one of the first post-war, small foreign cars with a big American V8 (FIAT/flathead Ford) that probably inspired many others.
His Fitch Pheonix (a car I've seen many times at Lime Rock) is a thing of beauty.

I've spoken with his a few times; he was a very nice, low-key person.

I'm pretty sure my Dad saw him race in a TT race in Dundrod (N. Ireland) in the early 50s.

By the way, ~here is me~ at the Hershey in the same spot as the photo above, 10+ years ago. :friendly_wink:

One other related point: I really miss the old "specials" like this that were common in racing "back in the day". There was all sorts of home-brew cars. Some were ugly and some very terrifying, but all were interesting.
One of the guys I race with has a "special" with a hand-hammered aluminum body running a Ford six cylinder with SU carbs.....that's the kind of the stuff I love to see!

And speaking of Jag specials, a contemporary of the Fitch-Jaguar special is the Hangsen Special (also built off an XK-120). I've seen it many times at the Lime Rock Vintage.

Link----> https://www.britishracecar.com/BobMillstein-Jaguar-HansgenSpecial.htm
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