When it comes to the building of “Specials” the Americans probably lead the field and some years ago at the Laguna Seca historic races, I bumped into Terry Buffum a keen member of the historic racing group in the States. The car he drove on that occasion was the Parkinson-Special that was Jaguar powered and was still being raced in the 1980a.

A group of people standing in front of a car

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Away from the race track Don Parkinson’s Parkinson Special at a US Concours event.
(Photo Vanhoolandt)

The builder was Don Parkinson who had the pleasure of beating Phil Hill early in Phil’s career by beating Phil’s Jaguar C type with the special. What made that victory even more sweet was that Don was married to Helen Naomi Hill, Phil Hill’s sister.

Parkinson was a Hollywood based architect who bought one of the early Jaguar XK120s from Roger Barlow’s International Motors Jaguar dealership in Los Angeles. Phil Hill had been apprenticed to Jaguar Cars in England and worked with International Motors as a mechanic.  Parkinson entered his car for one of the early Pebble Beach races where Phil was also entered in International Motors’s own XK120 and on this occasion it was Phil who won.

Shortly afterwards Parkinson had a huge accident at Pebble Beach. He re-bodied the car with a smaller sports body and cycle-wings and  found himself with a car much lighter than a standard XK120 and it was in this form that he turned the tables on his brother in law.

Parkinson then bought a C type Jaguar ( XKC031) and did the remarkable trick of not only crashing the C type on the Pebble Beach road course but hit exactly the same tree after which they name the corner Parkinsons Corner.

Don then went back to his lightweight Jaguar special and eventually sold it. A later owner fitted a Cadillac engine to it and it was in this state that Terry Buffum found it in someones back yard.  The car was totally restored by John Buddenbaum and the Parkinson-Jaguar returned to racing in historic races only this time the disc Jaguar wheels had been replaced by new 52 mm Italian Borrani wheels. Terry found that with the Borrani’s the brakes began to work better as they had better cooling.

Meanwhile, Don’s brother in law, Phil Hill, went on to better things, was signed by Ferrari for sports car racing and became America’s first Formula 1 World Champion.

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