XJS & XJ from KWE Cars
Classic Spirit Reborn

KWE Cars Blog - Page 1

Client Review: KWE Suspension Upgrade – XJ-S Convertible V12

We love a good review here at KWE, it’s very encouraging to know we are doing right by these wonderful cars and their owners. This is a recent review from a new customer that decided he wanted to upgrade the handling, ride and all round reliability of his XJ-S Convertible. This work included our full suspension/brakes and steering package, V12 perishable engine service, AC revamp, new convertible hood and also taking care of it’s underside rust and bodywork imperfections, plus other minor issues that needed addressing.

Here’s what David had to say:

“First – thank you for the very professional job that KWE have done on my XJ-S. I feel much more confident about driving it (and stopping it!) after the suspension and braking upgrades.
Similarly I am very happy with all the remedial work you did to the sub-frame which was clearly in rather poor condition judging from the photos you sent me.

Now for the really important bit – the drive experience itself. To be perfectly frank, on the initial drive back to London, I thought – ok, this is an improvement on what went before, but didn’t get the ‘big cat grin’ that maybe I had been expecting.

However, later that week I drove from London to our house in Perthshire – a distance of 450 miles, and there I really began to appreciate the remarkable difference the work had made.

First, on the motorway – I drove up the A1 – the car was much tighter, the suspension firm but supportive and with very little if any ‘shake’. Overtaking was a pleasure and the car cruised effortlessly at 80mph.

However the real joy was leaving the A1 after Scotch Corner and taking the A68 up through the Kielder National Park, and then through the Scottish Borders – Jedburgh etc and around Edinburgh. Here the improvement in handling was very evident – tight around the corners, no scuttle shake and almost light into and out of the bends – for such a big car. Yet the steering remains responsive and you can ‘feel’ the car unlike modern power steering which gives the driver no connection to the road.

The car was greatly admired when I stopped at a petrol station in Jedburgh as it was looking in tip top condition so well done to KWE.

Next up – the upgraded exhaust as we discussed so I’ll be in touch in the New Year to arrange to bring it in!

With very best wishes”

Thank you David for giving KWE the opportunity to upgrade your XJ-S and providing your wonderful review, we look forward to seeing you again.

Insurance for cars in our care

Due to the limitations of Insurers in their willingness to pay out, we have to point out that cars on our premises and in our care are covered only to the level of what insurers call ‘Market Value’. This is a vague term open to different interpretations but is usually significantly less than what the owner feels their car is worth. Please read our short article here.

Insurance

We would be very interested to hear – and share – your views, good or bad, about classic car insurers. Our clients want to be able to insure their restored cars for what it cost them and this baffles many insurers who go running for the ‘book’ and try to fob us off with ‘book’ value for insurance. Some insurers are more enlightened and we’d be grateful to hear your experiences. Please put any comments in the box below, and we will select the most useful answers and share them here. Thanks in anticipation.

Jaguar creates unique ‘Greatest Hits’ XJ6 for Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrains

  • Jaguar’s 50 years of XJ celebrations begin with bespoke Jaguar Classic commission for Iron Maiden drummer and life-long Jaguar enthusiast ‘Nicko’
  • Nicko’s classic 1984 XJ6 Series 3 features a host of custom touches inspired by all five decades of Jaguar XJ production, and McBrain’s heavy metal heritage
  • ‘Greatest Hits’ XJ is a collaboration between Nicko, the expert engineers and craftsmen at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works and Jaguar Design studio director Wayne Burgess
  • Bespoke XJ unveiled at Geneva International Motor Show on 6 March during the Jaguar Land Rover press conference

Today at the Geneva Motor Show Jaguar Classic is proud to present Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain’s custom-built ‘Greatest Hits’ Jaguar XJ6, kicking-off Jaguar’s XJ 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018.

The bespoke commission is a collaboration between Nicko, the expert engineers and craftsmen at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, and Jaguar Design studio director Wayne Burgess. The project involved more than 3500 man hours of work, with more than 4000 parts refinished, replaced or redesigned. Unlike any 1984 XJ6 before, it incorporates substantial modifications to the exterior, interior, drivetrain and suspension, resulting in Nicko’s dream XJ.

“This is my ultimate XJ – my third, and lovingly named ‘Johnny 3’. It has been a true labour of love between Jaguar Classic and myself. I’m so excited by its completion and especially to be showing it at Geneva – it really is a Greatest Hits edition and to me it defines what the Jaguar XJ is all about. It’s a credit to the craftsmanship of the Jaguar Classic team. We couldn’t have timed it better, this being the 50th anniversary of XJ – my favourite of all Jaguars.”

NICKO MCBRAIN

IRON MAIDEN DRUMMER

Key features include:

  • Unique front and rear bumpers – seamlessly blended in to the modified fenders with bespoke chrome brightwork and flush-fit US side markers
  • Flared and re-profiled front and rear wheel arches accommodating bespoke 18-inch wire wheels fitted with 235/45 R18 Pirelli P Zero tyres
  • Unique sills and modified rear door pressings
  • Uprated front and rear suspension with adjustable rear dampers
  • Unique Mauve paint finish
  • Conversion to elegant Series 2 XJ door handles and bullet wing mirrors
  • Conversion to LED headlights with ‘Halo’ daytime running light signature
  • Conversion to recessed twin fuel fillers
  • Modern door sealing for reduced wind noise, and additional sound deadening
  • Integrated touch screen operating satnav, phone, rear view camera and in-car entertainment
  • Re-trimmed interior with modified seat foams improving refinement
  • Bespoke audio system with USB connectivity, featuring guitar amplifier-inspired control knobs machined from aluminium
  • In-dash starter button
  • Uprated air-conditioning
  • Remote central locking

“Creating this ‘Greatest Hits’ XJ, and the whole process of bringing someone’s automotive dream to life, has been extraordinarily rewarding for the Jaguar Classic team. It’s been a pleasure to work with Nicko and we’re looking forward to hearing the reaction to this project.”

TIM HANNIG

JAGUAR LAND ROVER CLASSIC DIRECTOR

Inside, classic Jaguar style meets modern day convenience. The leather seats are hand trimmed in Pimento Red with black piping and embossed head rests, while a black hand-crafted carpet and Alcantara headlining finishes off the trim. The dashboard features Dark Grey stained Sycamore veneers – the preferred material for Nicko’s favourite snare drums.

Further nods to the owner’s art include machined aluminium rotary controls on the dashboard – inspired by the control knobs of the guitar amplifiers created by Nicko’s great friend Jim Marshall, and drum kit inspired pedals finished in chrome and black. The custom three-spoke sports steering wheel features Nicko’s unique mascot – the ‘Eddie Growler’, first seen on his specially commissioned 2013 Jaguar XKR-S.

Bespoke soft down lighting illuminates the revised dashboard, in which a state-of-the-art Alpine touch screen controls the 1100W sound system, powering speakers from Nicko’s preferred Jaguar audio installation, the 12MY Jaguar XF.

Incorporating a number of reconditioned parts from McBrain’s original XJ6, the 4.2-litre in-line six-cylinder engine features three 2-inch SU carburettors from the E-type – Nicko’s favourite set up. Machined quad-exhaust tail pipes finish-off a specially-designed exhaust system.

Preserved components from Nicko’s first XJ6, which spent many years stood in the grounds of the home of Iron Maiden bass guitarist Steve Harris, following Nicko’s move to America, are present elsewhere in the build too: from the iconic Jaguar leaper bonnet mascot, which first attracted Nicko to buy the car, to the original ignition keys from 1984.

Jaguar XJ-SC: A cabriolet fit for a princess

A notable Jaguar XJ-S V12 Cabriolet with royal connections will be one of a record number of stunning retro cars from the halcyon heydays of motoring appearing at this weekend’s London Classic Car Show at Excel London (15-18 February).

While many of the 700+ wonderful automotive icons on display will have their own incredible histories, few if any will have better stories to tell than this totally one-off 150mph Jaguar – a sportscar which was fashioned especially for Diana, Princess of Wales.

Princess Diana's Jaguar XJSC

The model first being released in 1983, this famous 1987 XJ-SC was not only one of the most photographed cars of its era but was also totally unique, built to the Princess’ own bespoke specification.

The V12 powered regal cabriolet features 2 rear seats and an individually made, permanently fixed, rear hard top to ensure that the two Princes could not strike their heads on the solid targa roof bar in the event of an accident.

Also, unlike any other XJS, the once royal roadster is fitted with personalised leather and Harris Tweed seat trims, chosen by Princess Diana. What’s more the exterior bodywork came with the US spec quad highlights and was finished in British Racing Green to match the Aston Martin that husband Prince Charles had acquired around the same time.

 

The Princess was regularly seen driving this majestic model from 1987 to 1991. Her and Sarah, the Duchess of York who also owned an XJS V12, except a convertible model would often enjoy driving their Jaguars together. Sarah’s car was later restored by KWE in 2007. Then, when the two Princes outgrew their small rear seats, Diana sold it to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, an educational charity established to preserve the legacy of Jaguar for the nation, in exchange for a contribution to one of her own charitable causes.

A little history on Jaguars XJ-SC

First came the coupe (1975), then the cabriolet (1983), and finally the convertible (1988). The XJS was not ready to have the top removed entirely, since omitting the roof would tend to make the XJ6-based monocoque sag in the middle. A great deal of engineering work and a lot of time was needed to produce an open car, even one with some of the roof in place. The compromise arrangement recalled the roof bracing of the late Triumph stag. The framework was kept in place but there were removable close-fitting panels, resulting in a pleasantly proportioned car from which Malcolm Sayer’s well-intentioned, but controversial “flying buttresses” were eliminated.

More significantly the XJ-S was available for the first time with a 6-cylinder engine, the AJ6 being tried out first in a low production volume model where its weaknesses would be exposed, but not to too many customers. It was a sensible move which breathed a new life into the model. The delightfully smooth and perfectly adequate 3.6 was offered on the cabriolet with the option of a 5 speed Getrag manual gearbox. Although, the 12-cylinder XJS was still a popular choice.

In 1985, Jaguar released the 5.3 V12 Cabriolet. This model had the option of rear seats, whereas the earlier model had a storage box, much like the early convertibles which were released later in 1988.

Sales of the XJ-S were on the turn. Improved reliability was the principal reason for an increase to 4,808 cars in 1983 and 6,028 in 1984. In 1985 sales received a boost with the V12 Cabriolet for which the production process was streamlined, and the HE badge was dropped in favour of a “V12”. When Jaguar released the fully convertible electric soft top, the cabriolet was discontinued after a production run of 5,013 cars.

KWE completes restoration on XJ-SC: Customers cabriolet has full treatment

Here we have our most recent restoration, a fully restored XJ-SC finished in Solent blue with luxurious magnolia leather and burr walnut trim. Click here to view the full write up and images in our showcase.

If you would like your own XJS built to your bespoke specification, please contact us to discuss our restoration services.

 

We also currently have a very original 4-seater 1988 XJ-SC Cabriolet with 25000-miles for sale, click here to see the full listing and images.

Jaguar resumes production of its iconic D-type racing car

Jaguar has announced that it will restart production of the D-type racing car for the first time in over 60 years.

The luxury motor company will hand-build just 25 new models of the classic D-type, one of which was debuted at the Salon Rétromobile show in Paris last week.

Jaguar-d-type-reborn

It has been 62 years since the last D-type was built. At the time, Jaguar had planned to manufacture 100 models, but only managed to build 75.

By restarting production of the iconic sports car with 25 all-new, period-correct models, the company is finally fulfilling its original aim.

“The Jaguar D-type is one of the most iconic and beautiful competition cars of all time, with an outstanding record in the world’s toughest motor races. And it’s just as spectacular today,”

Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic division.

“The opportunity to continue the D-type’s success story, by completing its planned production run in Coventry, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime projects that our world-class experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic are proud to fulfil,”  he added.

The new D-type models will be engineered at Jaguar Land Rover’s purpose-built Classic Works facility in Coventry, England.

Powered by a six-cylinder XK engine, the sports car famously won the Le Mans 24 Hours race three times between 1955 and 1957, and each of the 2018 models will be created to match these authentic, original specifications.

As it stands, the engineering prototype is the 1956 Longnose specification, featuring the recognisable extended bonnet, characteristic tail fin behind the driver’s head, wide-angle cylinder head and quick-change brake callipers.

D-type clients will also be able to choose between a 1955-specification Shortnose or 1956-specification Longnose bodywork.

Jaguar did the same thing back in 2014 with its iconic E-type car. Having had the original objective of building 18 Special GT E-type Cars in 1963, the company only made 12.

It, therefore, restarted production 50 years later, creating the remaining six “missing” vehicles as exact reproductions of the original 12 cars produced in 1963. They also went on to build nine XKSSs in 2017-18 that were originally destroyed along with most of the necessary tooling in a fire at Browns Lane factory.

Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic Engineering Manager, said,

“Recreating the nine D-type-derived XKSSs was hugely satisfying, and an even bigger technical challenge than the six missing Lightweight E-types, but lessons learned from the XKSS project have given us a head start on the final 25 D-types.

“Each one will be absolutely correct, down to the very last detail, just as Jaguar’s Competitions Department intended.”

Jaguar then electrified the E-type model three years later, in September 2017, in a bid to “future-proof classic-car ownership”.

The Big Blue Cat: Our customer Dave gives an overview on his KWE upgraded XJS

My other half is Sarah, and the Big Blue Cat in the heading relates to our 1990 XJ-S 5.3 litre convertible, in Solent Blue with Saville Grey interior. It’s actually Sarah’s baby, bought for her after many, many patient years of waiting.

 

Jags are in her family, with her brother owning an E-type and various uncles having Mark Xs and Mark 2s throughout life, but the XJ-S was always her personal desire. She’s had to put up for many years with my love for Land Rovers of all shapes and sizes, from Series 1, 2 and 3 through to Discovery 2s and 4s, Range Rovers Series 1s and P38s plus off-roaders and finally our White Witch, a white Discovery Sport 2.2 litre with the registration W1 CHH. Sarah has dabbled with imports, via a Chevy Astro 4.0 day van, a lifted and overboard 3.2 XXS Toyota surf, a Mitsubishi Delica 3.0 litre petrol and her latest, which we still have, a 260bhp Nissan Elgrand. All these came after turning down the chance to buy her first XJ-S convertible in wine metallic for £4000 many years ago. In those days though there was no place for the two kids and the two dogs.

“We have an XJ-S Plus, all the car anyone could want from a Jaguar and then some.”

So after many years of waiting, we bought the cat in late February this year, in nice condition as it was, but then decided to hand it over it to Chris Knowles at KWE so he could, as he put it, “Make it the car what it SHOULD have been in the first place”.

 

KWE Suspension Upgrades

For the first of their upgrades we plumped for their S1 suspension upgrade, which includes a suspension, steering and brake upgrade, note they say upgrade, not replacement as this makes the car better than when it was new in their opinion.

 

rebuilt front and rear suspension with KWE S1 Upgradesrebuilt front and rear suspension with KWE S1 Upgrades
 

 

 

 

 

This included the complete stripping of the suspension, brakes and steering unit from the car, then each individual section stripped down, all those old BL bushes, shocks, joints, dampers, discs, springs and joints as well, basically thrown away. Each major section is then shot blasted and powder coated in zinc and then finished in black or another colour should you ask for it, and all wearing, perishable and moving parts renewed with OE or if they are not available, KWE manufactured parts. It’s then all put back together by a single person, only one mechanic to a car, and refitted with a full geometry steering set up done.

 

 

The suspension is then adjusted to how you like it, (Sarah went for sporty!) and road tested until they are sure all is perfect.

 

Engine & Cooling System

The next decision for us was what to do with the engine, so we opted for their V12 30,000 mile perishable service, with full cooling system renewal, in Chris’s words “The cooling system renewal is so important for V12s because cooling was marginal when new, let alone with clogged old pipes and failing pumps”. There were other options, but as the car had only done 56,000 miles and only 6,000 since 2007 it was thought the engine wouldn’t warrant any more.

What is included in their V12 30,000 mile perishable service, is anything perishable being removed and in place a new radiator, hoses, drive belts, new plug leads and plugs, thermostats, water pump, new electric fan and fan couplings. This is followed by a full chemical flush of the engine coolant system and all oilways, followed by a full 30,000 mile service to body and engine, with any engine tuning needed to get it to the top notch performance you’d expect. Also the gearbox and differential oils are changed and in our case, gearbox mounting bushes changed, see the picture for what came out and what went back!

 

XJS Gearbox Mount Bush

 

The Interior & Exterior

Next the cabin, and it wasn’t so difficult to sort this one, as the carpets, leather and wood were already in very good condition and in the way KWE do things, “Not really something we need to touch,” Chris advised us. Still it just needed something to finish it off and then with the options Chris suggested we saw what it was. We then dumped that dodgy 1990 black plastic steering wheel in favour of a gorgeous Motalita Mk5 flat spoke holed steering wheel with polished centre horn push and a change to the T-bar on the gear selector from black plastic to wood matching the dash and surrounds. It finished it to a tee. As a finale KWE gave the paint a machine polish and wax to the interior valet including the seats getting a proper clean and a leather feed, making them just so.

 

The Finishing Touch

The dashboard instruments had all the illumination of a Victorian candle in a hurricane, so we went for a full interior lighting and instrument panel LED upgrade, and just to make life difficult for KWE, we requested that they do an experimental LED upgrade (never done before on an XJS) of all the control switches on the dash and centre console. This included the heater controls as well. They came through on that task with flying colours.

We got the car back in June, after a much anticipated wait and well !!!!!, was Chris right, it corners on rails, glides along on its new running gear like it is on air. You can see at night, like a modern car. The engine purrs and even after a half hour sit in traffic in recent very hot weather it sat rock solid normal in the temp zone. We’re also averaging 18mpg around town and on a recent long run 23.5mpg.

 

Was it worth the cost? Well, we’ve spent quite a bit more than the value of the car but what a car it is now!

Worth it ? Oh yes without a doubt, we have an XJ-S Plus, all the car anyone could want from a Jaguar and then some.

With thanks to Dave and Sarah Ash.

Also to Jaguar enthusiast Magazine for publishing the article.