Once again we’ve had the pleasure of having Paul Walton of Jaguar World Magazine come to our facilities in Thatcham to test drive one of our latest Jaguar restorations. With the help of Alan, the owner of this awe inspiring machine, Paul has summed up the final product pretty well in the following article that was published in the November 18 issue of Jaguar World. We’re thankful to Alan for giving us the opportunity to restore his beloved XJR-S and wish him many happy adventures in what is now a ‘perfect’ or should I say Purrrfect JaguarSport TWR.
Perfect is an overly used word these days. When a waiter asks how our food is, we sometimes answer, “Perfect,” even if it’s not quite there. And when I go on holiday I’ll probably later describe it as perfect, despite it raining for two weeks and there being a dead rat in the pool. There is something that genuinely deserves the accolade, though, and that’s Alan Richell’s XJR-S. A thorough restoration by model specialist KWE has resulted in one of the best examples out there. From the flawless paint to the spotless alloys, and the immaculate interior to the pristine engine bay, it is… erm… perfect.
Alan, though, wasn’t looking to create perfection when he bought the car. As a Jaguar enthusiast who already owned a rare X100 XKR Carbon Fibre and a limited edition X50 XK Dynamic R, he had been an admirer of the XJ-S for many years and decided in 2016 that it was time to add one to his collection.
He was originally looking for a late post-facelift model from the mid-Nineties, but a 1990 XJR-S advertised in the JEC’s magazine piqued his interest. Not only was it a genuine JaguarSport example that had been produced at TWR’s Kidlington facility, but also the car had been fitted with TWR’s own 6.0-litre V12 – the extra 648cc over the 5.3 obtained from a long-stroke crankshaft, 78.5mm instead of 70mm. Since this was an expensive option (in 1991, the XJR-S 6.0 cost £45,500) only a handful were ordered after it was introduced in August 1989. It’s thought just 682 were built before the introduction of Jaguar’s own 6.0 for the standard XJS killed the model. So, it made a perfect companion for Alan’s other rare Jaguars, and continued his mantra of ‘classics with a twist’. Says Alan, “I called the owner who had kept the car for 18 years and who was the most careful, fastidious man. Every receipt and piece of paper associated with the car was available and, once on the hook, I was an easy fish to reel in. A visit, a short test drive and the deal was done.”
Thanks to the fastidiousness of the previous owner, the car was in reasonably good condition. “I drove it back from Kent to my home in Gloucestershire in the very worst weather and traffic that the M25 could throw at us. Yet it never missed a beat and became easy to fall in love with.”
But, wanting to make sure his new purchase was as good as he thought it was, less than a year after buying the car, Alan took it to model specialist KWE. “It advertises a condition-assessment service, which I booked. These are written up as a red, amber and green sequence of findings, with red being urgent and important, amber useful and green more of a wish list. While there were no actual red items listed – which is very comforting having, in the end, bought the car in good faith – there were several areas of rust that needed sorting.”
That was the start of a year-long and very comprehensive restoration that touched every aspect of the car. “In the end, it became clear that it was preferable to do everything while the car was in as many bits as it could possibly be,” Alan says, “so that the thing which got put back together was much more than the thing that got taken apart.”
The car was soon stripped and the engine rebuilt. Says KWE’s Chris Knowles, “With 80,000 miles, it was a bit rough around the edges. It was under what we recommend for full rebuild, but even though only initially wanting a service, Alan decided to go ahead with one.” KWE fitted larger throttle bodies and Omex’s digital engine management system, the benefits of which Alan remembered reading about somewhere.
All issues with the body were repaired, although, says Chris, the car was in reasonably good condition. “It had the usual areas, but nothing very important.” The worst parts were the shock absorber mounts, which were repaired before everything was protected with underseal.
The car then received KWE’s full suspension package that consists of new springs, bushes and adjustable dampers made by British company Avo, to Chris’ specification. Alan also asked for one of KWE’s newly developed sports exhausts to be added.
“We worked with BTB Exhausts in Northamptonshire,” says Chris “to produce something that is bigger than standard, has less restrictions through the silencers, and has a better thought-out point of where the two branches of the V of the engine join up; the further back you can get them to join up the better it is; you get better flow through from one bank sucking the gas out the other bank.”
The car was still being run-in when tested earlier this year, so it wasn’t possible to get an exact power output, but Chris has the same system fitted to his XJ-S V12 and reckons it produces another 40 percent torque at 1,500rpm.
Although his XJR-S was originally in Arctic Blue, after Alan saw KWE’s newly restored XJ-S V12 convertible [see JW, February 2018, p44] at the 2017 NEC Classic Motor Show, which had been resprayed in the slightly darker Crystal Blue from the X150 XK, he wanted the same. The XJR-S’ original Speedline alloys were refurbished and shod with four Falken Ziex tyres.
Like the exterior, the interior was in reasonable shape. New burr walnut veneer for the fascia and ‘ski jump’ around the gearlever were renewed, along with replacement door cards, but the original leather on the seats was deemed good enough to be kept and repainted in original magnolia. Alan then specified new blue carpets with the woven-in JaguarSport logo at the footwell.
Add in a new DAB radio, rear parking sensors and an LED bulb conversion using the original headlights and this very thorough recommission resulted in a unique vehicle.
It took almost a year to complete, and the restoration wasn’t cheap. I won’t embarrass Alan by revealing the final figure, but it outweighed the current value of the car. Yet Alan never set out to spend so much. “Each step was a considered investment on its own, and the eventual total only arose because it was the sum of its gradually accruing parts.” He admits, “and the fact it took 11 months to complete the job was a good thing.”
Yet, more than pleased by the final result, Alan is unrepentant of the cost. “I need a machine that is reliable and safe for an owner like me to enjoy and look after. Importantly, all the effort is rewarded every time I get behind the wheel.”
It is an unseasonably warm October morning when I visit KWE’s Thatcham-based workshop to view the car. It’s already parked outside, and the sun lights up the XJR-S’ rich, new paintwork to make it luminescent.
The large rear wing, deeper chin spoiler and side skirts of the XJR-S’ body kit lend the car a muscular appearance so it will stand out from the many standard cars; a bit like Usain Bolt alongside mere mortals like you and me. Even though the car has been finished for six months, it remains free from any imperfections and is easily the best-looking XJ-S I’ve seen.
It’s the same story inside. The veneer on the fascia shines like a mirror, while the repainted – but still original – magnolia leather on the seats looks like it’s brand new rather than close to 30 years old. I’m not totally convinced by Alan’s replacement bright-blue carpets, feeling they detract from the XJ-S’ old-fashioned charm but, like everything else with this car, they are finished to a high standard.
It takes a second after twisting the key for that huge V12 to churn into life, but it sounds smooth and refined. The threespeed ’box slots down smoothly into drive and, after gripping the leather-wrapped TWR four-spoke steering wheel, I slowly squeeze the throttle pedal.
The resultant acceleration isn’t as hard as I’d imagine from a 6.0 V12 that when new had 318bhp, lacking the urgency of Jaguar’s later V8 models, but, thanks to the KWE exhaust, it does offer a little more grunt than the final XJS I drove in the November 2018 issue that has Jaguar’s own 6.0. The Omex digital management system keeps the engine running like clockwork and no matter how hard or soft I press the throttle; the power delivery is consistent and unsurprising.
Thanks to a thorough service during the restoration, the three-speed GM gearbox is smooth and fast, and stepping hard on the accelerator results in the ’box instantly kicking down, unleashing more of the car’s phenomenal torque.
However, that’s not the only joy of this car – there is the way the big GT handles. Thanks to the XJR-S’ stiffened dampers compared to the standard model, corners can be taken with a confidence often missing from most XJ-Ss that are baggier than an old couch, yet following KWE’s suspension upgrades there’s still enough suppleness to avoid any banging and crashing over road imperfections. The steering is sports car precise, with just enough resistance to transform turning into corners to be something to savour.
Some might question the sense in investing so much money into a car that’s worth £25k-£30k, but money was never the point of the project. Alan wanted an XJR-S he could use now, while preserving it for the future. Thanks to its usual eye for details plus a series of sensible modifications, KWE has achieved that goal… perfectly. PW
Words & Photography by: Paul Walton, Editor of Jaguar World Magazine
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.
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”.
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.
Yesterday, KWE had a visit from a customer who brought his beautifully restored Series 3 Jaguar E type for us to look over. It recently had a brand new late 6 litre fuel injected engine, with AJ6 Engineering power and torque enhancements installed by another company.
Unfortunately, the engine was not running smoothly at all, suffering from throttle lag among other things that were affecting its performance and efficiency. Luckily for him, AJ6 Engineering pointed him in the direction of KWE, who was able to rectify the issues with their specialist knowledge of the V12 engine.
After diagnosing the problem, KWE was able to fix the throttle lag issue within a couple of hours, resulting in a much smoother and responsive drive, while also significantly reducing the emissions at the same time, with some smart adjustments to the ECU.
When the E-type came in to the KWE workshop, the emissions test was reading 7.9% CO, just before leaving it was down to 0.3% CO, which is an incredible reading for a car running a 6 litre V12 engine!
We asked the proud owner to give us a few words on his marvellous machine:
“My V12 Roadster is the 4th E-type I have owned, and by far the best (and that includes a restored and upgraded early Series 1 3.8). When this Series 3 was restored it was re-built with a new factory fresh fuel injected 6.0 litre V12 which included upgrades from Aj6 Engineering in the form of their Torque Plus kit and larger throttle bodies to accompany their TT exhaust system. In all, giving a significant increase in power and torque. Not to mention a V12 that sounds wonderful! With all the suspension upgraded to include adjustable dampers and neoprene bushes, upgraded XJS brakes, an XJS 2.88 LSD diff it makes this 1974 car feel appropriately up-dated in every possible department. Just a magnificent car to drive and to own.“
Another happy Jaguar owner driving off in his much smoother running V12 E-type.
If you are experiencing any issues with your V12 engine, arrange a booking with KWE.