Peter Lumsden

Racing Driver and Owner of the Factory Lightweight E-Type 49 FXN

Peter James Scott Lumsden was born on 20 February 1929.  He was a British racing driver, best known for his partnership with fellow British racing driver, Peter Sargent.  Lumsden was the brother of British modern pentathlete, John Michael George “Jack” Lumsden and the younger son of Lieutenant-General Herbert William Lumsden, a senior British Army Officer who fought in World War I and World War II.

Early Racing – Lotus

His racing career started in 1956 at the wheel of the Lotus-Climax Mark IX.  At the end of the season, he received the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy following his victory at Goodwood and scoring numerous second and third places.

In 1959 Lumsden, partnered with Peter Riley, won the 1,300 cc GT class in the Nürburgring 1,000 km round of the World Sports Car Championship at the wheel of the third Lotus Elite prototype.  The pair raced the Elite at Le Mans 24 Hours finishing 8th overall but 1st in the 1,500 cc GT class, 2nd in the Index of Thermal Efficiency and 5th in the Index of Performance.  In 1960 Lumsden scored a win at the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in the 1,300 cc GT class, finishing 9th overall.

Lumsden’s Lotus and Sargent’s D-type were being prepared at the same time by the Playfords and the two met up and decided to race together.  Their first race was in May 1960, entering the Nürburgring 1,000 Km race in the Elite, finishing in 21st place (but 2nd in their class).

Jaguar Racing

1962 Peter Lumsden and Peter Sargent
on E-Type 898 BYR at Le Mans

E-Type 898 BYR (chassis 85009)

In 1962 the pair competed at Le Mans at the wheel of Sargent’s E-Type 898 BYR (chassis 850009), one of the earliest E-types from the production line at Jaguar, which Lumsden had acquired in 1961. 

Lofty England drew up a ‘priority list’ of customers for the first E-Types, mostly people who had previously raced Jaguars.  The cars were all two-seater, right had drive, roadsters with some factory modifications.  Chassis 85009 was ordered by Peter Sargent with a competition clutch and a close ratio gearbox and raced in that form during 1961, but not before upgrading the brakes with a dual system, split front and rear, and adding a decent servo.

For the 1962 Le Mans race the car was fitted with a lightweight aluminium bonnet and a fastback type roof, by Peels of Kingston, to replace the standard hardtop.  Lumsden found out that Abbey Panels were making aluminium bonnets for Jaguar and tried to order one.  Jaguar wouldn’t allow it so he had a panel beater build one specially.  This coupé  equipped car proved to be faster than Briggs Cunningham’s standard  roadster.  In addition to the changes to the body, John & Brian Playford changed the engine for a dry sump, D-type one with a wide angle head. A D-type triple-plate clutch and ‘long’ final drive unit of 2.93:1 incorporating an oil cooler completed the technical modifications.  The fuel tank was increased to 140 litres.

They finished 5th overall and 2nd in the 4-litre GT class behind the E-type of Roy Salvadori and Briggs Cunningham.  The gearbox had reportedly been rebuilt at Jaguar by an apprentice, who had ‘allegedly’ fitted a gasket the wrong way round, blocking an oil-way, and it stuck in fourth gear with an hour of the race to go.  Lumsden recalls, “Coming out of Arnage, the car suddenly started to rattle and shake, and smoke came out of the gearbox” and Sargent remembers, “the gearbox screaming louder and louder, so I went round the circuit for the last hour in top gear only and even down the straight it wasn’t possible to squirt it”.

Early in 1963 Lumsden sold 898 BYR as they moved on to ‘better things’.

Lister-Costin-Jaguar WTM 446

In 1963 the partners bought the last works Lister team car, with a Frank Costin-designed space-frame chassis.  This had been completed for Jim Diggory in 1960.  Diggory sold the car to John Coundley, who crashed it and then sold it to them as a rolling chassis.  They commissioned Frank Costin to design a body for the Lister and the result was an aerodynamic coupé with a double-bubble roof, the doors set into the roof and very small frontal area.  Costin said that the bubble roofline reduced the frontal area and made the body stiffer.

Williams & Pritchard then built the body, but Brian Playford had them incorporate a windscreen frame just as he later did for the E-Type that allowed a quick change of windscreens.  A Jaguar D-type engine and gearbox were installed.  For the 1963 Le Mans race a logbook, showing that the car was registered in its country of origin, was necessary.  This Lister had never been registered, so they bought a logbook for a Lister registered WTM 446 that been written off in the making of the film The Green Helmet.  Although the chassis was four years old, prospects of success seemed good.

Samir (Sami pronounced Sammy) Klat the captain of Imperial College London’s motor club, asked the two Peters to be guests of honour at the club’s annual dinner in recognition for their efforts at Le Mans.  Conversation came round to the plans for 1963 Le Mans and it was agreed that as Klat was a native French speaker he should join them for the test session in April.  Klat, who was doing research into combustion, was able to help them resolve some problems with the Lister’s exhaust, which proved to be the start of a technical relationship that would see them develop a low drag lightweight E-type. 

For more details of the Lister-Costin-Jaguar, see the article on Peter Sargent.

Lightweight E-Type 49 FXN chassis 850663

Like Peter Lindner, Lumsden acquired one of the 12 Jaguar Lightweight E-types built in 1963, the sixth Lightweight registered 49 FXN (chassis number 850663).  This was very different from a standard E-type: the central tub, doors and bonnet were made from aluminium alloy; the seat frame was light alloy; perspex replaced glass for the windows; the wide-angled head engine had an aluminium block, lightened flywheel, dry sump and fuel injection.  The engine was said to produce 297 bhp at 5,500 rpm, with torque of 300 lb ft at 4,500 rpm, on 100 octane petrol.  The car sat on 15 inch, light alloy wheels shod with Dunlop R6 racing tyres, 650 x 15 at the front and wider 700 x 15 at the rear. 

The invoice from Jaguar to Lumsden for preparing the car was for £1,500.  

That year both lightweights: Lindner/Nöcker‘s and Lumsden/Sargent’s, competed at the Nürburgring 1,000 km in May.  Lindner started in eighth place on the grid with Lumsden just behind in tenth.  After making a good ‘Le Mans style’ start Lindner led for the first lap before being passed by both Ferrari 250s but had to retire due to lack of oil pressure.  Lumsden, after also making a good start, crashed badly at Flugplatz after 33 laps, demolishing 150 yards of fencing.

“I made a good start and led past the post after the first lap”, recalls Lumsden.  After hearing, “an awful banging noise”, he decided to return to the pits where  nothing was discovered.  He rejoined the race, “we were doing well and lying fourth.  It was raining, but the car was going well, the rain was stopping, and I thought I was only about 20 seconds behind the chap who was third.  So I kept up the pressure.  I came over one hill to find that it had been hailing and raining on the other side, and a little voice said,  “you are now going to leave the circuit”.  And I did”.   That’s when the accident happened.

Although a bad race for Lumsden it was good for Jaguar as E-types took the first 3 places in their class. 

Following the crash, the Lumsden/Sargent Lightweight was returned to the Jaguar factory for rebuilding around a new aluminium tub that had been laid down for production of another Lightweight.  The car was raced by Lumsden and Sargent for the rest of the 1963 season including Goodwood, Silverstone, and then Sargent won its final race at Brands Hatch in October. 

April 1964  Lightweight E-Type 49 FXN
Re-built in ‘Low Drag’ form, at Le Mans Test

Both Peters thought that the appearance of the car was unattractive, with the hard top stuck on it, and they would get better performance out of it by giving it a decent shape.   Having worked with Sami  Klat on the Lister-Costin they turned to him to try and improve the shape and reduce its drag.  With assistance from Harry Watson, Klat made considerable changes to the bodywork, coming up with his own version of a ‘Low Drag’ roofline (flatter than Malcolm Sayer’s version), with a more raked and flush-fitting windscreen.  He extended the nose, reminiscent of Frank Costin’s Vanwall, and modified the rear. 

Klat and his student colleague discovered a phenomenon which they did not fully understand, but which would later be termed ‘ground effects’ when it changed the face of Formula 1 racing fifteen years later.  

Klat also turned his attention to the engine, fitting it with a twin-plug head, 12 point distributor, and asymmetric pistons, increasing power from 297 to 348 bhp.  The re-built car was delivered in July 1963.  It is worth pointing out that the V12 engine in the Ferrari GTO produced 288 bhp!

1964 to 1965

The car returned to racing in 1964 to take part at Le Mans and although Klat’s revised engine was developing 348 bhp, Lumsden sought more power and heard rumours that Jaguar were developing a 4.2 litre version of the XK engine which would have been capable of producing even more power.  Jaguar denied these rumours, and then about a week later announced they were putting a 4.2 litre engine into production!  Power output would be about the same as the 3.8 litre production engine, 265 bhp, but with better low down torque.  

During the Le Mans practice weekend, the E-type was third fastest at 155.34 mph on the Mulsanne Straight, but had to retire due to gearbox failure.  It fared no better in the race itself, retiring with engine problems after only 80 laps.

After Sargent retired from racing at the end of 1964 Lumsden raced for one more season.  There we no further modifications by Sami Klat (who finished PhD that year) but the Playfords still maintained the car.  Lumsden scored two wins at a Jaguar Drivers’ Club meeting at Crystal Palace in July and two wins at Brands Hatch (July & August).  His last outing was at Brands Hatch at the end of October competing in two races.  He finished 5th in the Formula Libre St Andrews Cup race and led through most of his last race, the Redex Trophy, only being beaten across the finish line by Bernard Unett in a Sunbeam Tiger.

The Lightweight E-type known as 49 FXN or more generally as the ‘famous Lumsden/Sargent car’, went up for sale in March 1966 and was sold. for £2,975.

Race Results- Jaguar Related

Year

Date

Race

Result

Car / Co-driver

Entrant / Team
(if not himself)

1956 17 March Goodwood 
Over 1.25 litre race (his first race)
2nd Lotus Mark IX  
1959 7 June Nürburgring, Germany
1,000 kms (his first Nürburgring)
23rd Lotus Elite with
Peter Riley
R W Fitzwilliam
  21 June Le Mans, France
24 Hours (his first Le Mans)
8th Lotus Elite with
Peter Riley
William S Frost
1960 22 May Nürburgring, Germany
1,000 kms (first partnership with Sargent)
21st Lotus Elite with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
1961 9 September Silverstone
Jaguar Drivers’ Club
3rd Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
 
  16 September Goodwood
2 races
2nd & 4th Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
 
  30 September Snetterton
Molyslip Trophy
5th Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
 
1962 7-8 April Le Mans, France
Test
5th Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  12 May Silverstone
International GT
DNA Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
P J S Lumsden
  27 May Nürburgring, Germany
1,000 kms
DNF
(suspension failure)
Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  23-24 June Le Mans, France
24 Hours
5th Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  6 August Brands Hatch
Peco trophy
9th Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
P J S Lumsden
  18 August Goodwood
Tourist Trophy
DNF
(spun off)
Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
P J S Lumsden
  1 September Crystal Palace
Anerley Trophy
2nd Jaguar E-Type
898 BYR
P J S Lumsden
1963 17 April Le Mans, France
Test
8th Lister Costin Jaguar with Peter Sargent Peter Sargent
  11 May Silverstone
International
15th Lister Costin Jaguar P J S Lumsden
  19 May Nürburgring, Germany
1,000 kms
DNF
(crashed after 33 laps – classified 32nd)
Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  16 June Le Mans, France
24 Hours
DNF Lister Jaguar with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  5 August Goodwood
Guards Trophy
DNF Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN driven by
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  24 August Goodwood
Tourist Trophy
9th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
1964 30 March Goodwood
Sussex Trophy
7th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN driven by
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  18-19 April Le Mans, France
Test
7th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  18 May Goodwood
Whitsun Meeting
DNA Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  31 May Nürburgring, Germany
1,000 kms
DNF
(engine failure after 28 laps – classified 51st)
Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  20-21 June Le Mans, France
24 Hours
DNF
(80 laps)
Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
  9 August Brands Hatch 
BARC Meeting 2 races:
GT Race & Handicap
2nd & 6th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  29 September Goodwood
Tourist Trophy
8th (5th in class)
(124 laps)
Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN with
Peter Sargent
P J S Lumsden
1965 13 March Goodwood
2 races: GT Cars & Formula Libre
2nd & 4th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  3 April Goodwood
BARC Members Meeting – 2 races: Sports Cars Scratch & GT Scratch
4th & 1st Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  19 April Goodwood
Sussex Trophy
5th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  1 May Oulton Park
Tourist Trophy
DNA Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  7 June Goodwood
Whitsun Meeting – Sports & GT Cars
4th Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN 
P J S Lumsden
  3 July Crystal Palace
Jaguar Drivers’ Club, President’s Trophy Meeting – 2 races:
GT Cars & All-Jaguar Scratch
1st in both Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN 
P J S Lumsden
  18 July Brands Hatch 
2 races: GT Over 1.6 litres
& Sports Racing Cars
1st & DNF Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  31 July Crystal Palace
GT Cars
DNF Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  8 August Brands Hatch 
Redex GT Over 1.6 litres
1st Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  30 August Brands Hatch 
Redex Trophy
DNF
(engine failure)
Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  12 September Brands Hatch 
Handicap
DNA Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden
  31 October Brands Hatch 
2 races: St Andrews Cup
& Redex Trophy
 5th & 2nd Lightweight E-Type
49 FXN
P J S Lumsden

 

Life after racing

A chartered accountant by qualification, Peter worked at the London Stock Exchange before leaving to take up farming near Dover.  For many years he was a trustee and treasurer of the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association. 

Lumsden enjoyed golf in his spare time and became caption of the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich in Kent.

In 1995 he was awarded the CBE for services to healthcare.

Looking back he said that of everywhere he had raced, the Nürburgring was his favourite circuit – ‘miles ahead of anything else – it was the Valhalla’.  In his early days with his Lotus Elite he and Peter Riley had been taught the circuit by Willi Grut who new the track well from his work developing single seater racers for a Danish company.  

Peter Lumsden passed away peacefully on 15th October 2017 at the age of 88, surrounded by his family.

 

Lightweight E-Type ‘49 FXN’ After Lumsden

Jaguar Lightweight E-type
The Autobiography of 49 FXN

The car was first advertised in Autosport in February 1965, for £3,000 but did not sell.  Lumsden advertised it again in Autosport in March 1966, this time for slightly less, £2,975, with a rebuilt engine and it sold.  It was bought by John Scott-Davies who crashed it in practice at Oulton Park in May 1966, rolling it and damaging the roof.   The car was re-built but the roof was not quite the same profile as that produced by Sami Klat.  

It went through a number of owners; Mike Drane, R A Gibson and continued to be raced.  Gibson advertised the car in Autosport in January 1968 now for only £2,000 and the car was bought by Dave Cottingham of DK Engineering who tidied up the bodywork and resprayed the car.  By the time it was moved on again in 1972 it was painted red and had an alloy engine block.  It changed hands a few more times until it was purchased by US-based, Englishman, Howard Cohen spending approximately 20 years in America, during which time it was occasionally raced in historic meetings and displayed at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

In 2000 Fisken’s brought it back to the UK for Sir Anthony Bamford who returned it to serious competition.  Over the subsequent three years, it was raced at historic meetings by the likes of Frank Sytner and Willie Green.  From Bamford, the car passed to Viscount Cowdray, who continued in the same vein.  Jochen Mass and Derek Bell both raced 49 FXN at the Goodwood Revival.  In the hands of subsequent owners Ross Warburton and its current custodian, 49 FXN has continued to compete at the top level of historic motorsport.  Each owner has added their own chapter to the history of this most charismatic and beautiful of E-types, and to see the car now is to see evidence of its various lives.

In 2017 Porter Press published a book on the car titled Jaguar Lightweight E-type – The Autobiography of 49 FXN written by Philip Porter and James Page.

In 2018 49 FXN was sold by Fiskens who produced an excellent video summarising it’s history and development. 

 

Authors: Shihanki Elpitiya and Tony Merrygold

Race results from www.RacingSportsCars.com and other sources

© Text and Images – Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust  (except where stated)