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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic division.
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,
Jaguar then electrified the E-type model three years later, in September 2017, in a bid to “future-proof classic-car ownership”.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
With thanks to Dave and Sarah Ash.
Also to Jaguar enthusiast Magazine for publishing the article.
As of 13th January 2018 a law has come into force requiring companies who accept credit card payments to absorb the charge that the credit companies levy on such transactions. This levy is typically between 2.5% and 3% (more for American Express). With high value transactions such as ours, this levy is very significant and can be many hundreds of pounds which previously was passed on to the customer since credit cards are a convenience for the client, not the supplier.
KWE now regrets that it can no longer as of 23rd January 2018 accept credit cards as a means of payment. We are happy to accept debit cards, cheques and internet bank transfers.
This change has been made in our Terms of Business
We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause.
The Jaguar XJ-S is one of the most stylish sports touring cars in the world. It is entirely happy to be driven daily, whilst in great comfort and class. Owning an XJ-S marks you out as an individualist with impeccable taste. The feeling of grandeur you get while sitting in the cockpit wrapped in fine leather, wood and wool. Driving one makes you feel like you’re the king of the road, especially with KWE’s perfected steering, brakes and suspension set-up, ensuring you stay flat and low on the tarmac, while taking the sharpest of corners effortlessly. The all-aluminium V12 is the smoothest around – and one of the most reliable when properly restored and maintained.
– Dr C.S., Swindon, XJS Upgrade
The XJS is a great British classic that really stands out above the rest, that is why we at KWE are so dedicated and passionate about restoring these marvellous machines, transforming them into reliable, safe and excellent performing classic masterpieces.
– James May, BBC Top Gear
Maybe this is why we have seen our international clientele grow in recent years, especially from the U.S. This could also be down to the ever-growing investment value of a restored British classic like the XJS. We applaud our American clients that share our enthusiasm in making the XJS ‘the car it should’ve been’!
We have restored over 350 XJSs covering all models, and gained over 15 years specialist experience, specifically on the XJS. KWE prides itself on being the largest and most experienced XJS specialist in world, bringing them up to ‘better than new’ standards. We have access to a wealth of Jaguar knowledge and genuine new and restored parts. All KWE cars have fully restored and uprated aircon systems. KWE offers a range of modernisations – better lighting, remote door unlock and boot release, one-touch window drop, daylight running lights, parking sensors, modern Bluetooth audio and bespoke solutions to suit your specific requirements.
Typical turn-round time is 20 weeks, depending on level of restoration.
We make the transport of US-registered cars to the UK easy with a door to door service via our trusted and vetted transportation partner CARS Europe.
We can offer a purchasing service in the US if customers do not already own one. There are no regulatory issues where the car is bought in the US, restored in the UK and returned. There are some great examples available on the US market, and at great prices compared to the UK and Europe at this time.
KWE will be offering support via appointed US service shops. There is also a good range of Jaguar parts suppliers in the US. But right now there are good specialist Jaguar shops around – and the car’s design is fairly simple, not requiring special equipment for maintenance (unlike modern cars)!
KWE offer a range of performance enhancements for the V12 engines including sports stainless steel exhaust systems, digital engine management, free-flow inlet systems etc
If you already own an XJS you can order a restoration by us right now! Contact us today to start your XJS journey.
Our California-based correspondent and friend Rhett Redelings elegantly explains what makes the XJS so special, and why he would choose the XJS over other classic cars available. Click the links below to find out what he has to say about these magnificent classics:Guest blog post vol. 1: What makes the Jaguar XJ-S special?
Guest blog vol.2: Why choose the Jaguar XJ-S over other classic cars?
It’s been a while since our last exhibition, so we are thrilled to announce that KWE will exhibiting at the NEC Classic Motor Show on the 10th – 12th November.
We will be showcasing our fully restored XJS V12 Convertible, which underwent a complete restoration.
We look forward to seeing you there, come and visit us at our stand (2-455), we will be located in hall 2 stand 455 near the Silverstone auction.
If you haven’t already, book your tickets on the NEC website: http://www.necclassicmotorshow.com/
Knowles-Wilkins Engineering (KWE) Ltd has reached its 15th Anniversary. From being very much new kids on the block back on 2002, we have become well known at home and abroad for our Jaguar XJS restoration and modernisation work. Owners Chris and Theresa Knowles started the company from their home and, perhaps surprisingly, took three major orders in the first two months, appeared on Top Gear twice and turned over around £100,000 before moving the business (and home) to Newbury, Berkshire in 2004. Since then we have restored over 300 cars, most with our admired full suspension/brakes/steering upgrade package.
We currently employ 10 staff and occupy three very busy premises on Greenham Business Park, and are currently recruiting. We would like to thank all of our past and present customers for their continued support and love for the Jaguar.
We have expanded our works to include XK, all XJ saloons, E Types and Aston Martin DB7s. We are continuing to develop, improve and revitalise these astounding classic and future classic cars.
KWE are now offering servicing for Jaguar X300, X308, X-Type, S-Type, XK8/R.