XJS & XJ from KWE Cars
Classic Spirit Reborn


“There is a Jaguar XJS God after all”

On a hot Friday afternoon, Theresa spotted an XJS on our business park with an RAC van in attendance. Rushing to the rescue, she found that the RAC engineer could only tow it away because there was a big misfire and overheating exhaust. To the owner’s relief, Theresa pointed out that KWE was only a few yards away!

We leapt on the damsel in distress (the car, that is) and found the cause was a big ignition problem, with one bank of the V12 not working at all. In the end, we had to replace a faulty coil, leaking ignition leads and the distributor cap, while the owners basked in the sunshine.

All now being well, the owners went on their way, and we received the following email this morning:

“THERE IS A JAGUAR XJS GOD AFTER ALL… I could not believe my bad luck in breaking down on a lovely hot sunny afternoon, enjoying driving my gorgeous 20 year old Jaguar XJS with the top down…when my wife commented that she could smell a “burning smell”.

I stopped the car and looked underneath and to my horror the exhaust pipe (or so I thought) was glowing bright red. I immediately called the RAC who inspected my Jag and told me that it was misfiring and would need to be towed home, oh the indignity of that!

The RAC man was just organising this when a lady tapped on the window and explained that just around the corner her company, KWE Cars, specialised not only in Jaguar cars, but specifically in the Jaguar XJS.

Within less than 5 minutes my car was being examined by 2 engineers and to cut a long story short my Jag was not only repaired (eroded cables to the distributor) but the car is now actually running better than it has been for a long time!

I cannot thank you enough for not only fixing my dear old car but also being less than 5 minutes away from where I broke down (the first time I have ever broken down in 15 years of owning the car).

So, for sure there must be a Jaguar XJS God and he was certainly looking down on me last week! If your other services are a fraction of what you showed to me, then I would have no hesitation in recommending KWE to other Jaguar owners. Once again, many many thanks for helping me out last week.”

If you’re in trouble and need expert assistance, give us a call on 01635 30030. Alternatively, follow us on Twitter and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

YouTube vlog: Fully restored and modernized XJS from KWE

We received this video from YouTube vlogger, Martyn Stanley. Hear what he had to say about the increasingly popular XJS, and why he thinks restoring with KWE is the way forward.



In line with growing investment potential, and as the car comes up to its landmark 40th anniversary, the XJS continues to get drivers’ hearts racing.

If, like Martyn, you’d like to restore a classic car back to its former glory, get in touch. We pride ourselves on our ability to back to ‘better-than-new’ quality, in line with your specifications.Call us on 01635 30030, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

New technical note: Refilling the GM400 gearbox

In many V12 HE cars (all of which up to 1993 are fitted with the GM400 box) a common issue we’ve encountered, and one that can worry its owners, is for large clouds of white smoke to emanate from the back of the vehicle, particularly on a hot run and after a service.


This is usually a result of the gearbox being overfilled, with the excess being blown out of the breather, which is invisibly placed on top of the box. The oil drips down, hits the hot exhausts and produces an impressive cloud of smoke. Equally, it is easy to under-fill, as the procedure is not widely understood, and dipstick readings can be misleading when oil accumulates in the bottom of the dip tube.

In order to counter such gearbox issues, here is our tried and tested formula:

  • Get your engine and transmission thoroughly hot – at least a 20-minute drive is necessary. When stationary, and with your foot on the brake, keep your engine running and move the gear lever through all positions twice, leaving the gearbox in park.
  • Remove the dipstick and wipe off (the initial readings are not important). Repeat this at least five times until you have a clear indication of oil levels, equal on both sides of the stick. The bottom of the dipstick tube starts full of oil, even though the actual level in the sump may be lower. Repeatedly withdrawing and wiping the stick empties this ‘reservoir’ and then you get an accurate reading.
  • If the level is too high on the side of the stick marked ‘HOT’, then remove oil by means of a vacuum pump or syringe (easily obtainable online) inserted into the filler tube. We suggest taking out half a litre at a time. If you have taken more than a few minutes over this before moving the gear lever, repeat the cycling through the gears process. This ensures that both the torque converter and hydraulic passages and chambers are kept full of oil.
  • If the level is too low, top up with automatic transmission fluid (ATF) – half a litre at a time. You will need to repeat the dipping and wiping process, as while filling, the dipstick tube will fill up again, giving an inaccurately high reading. Do not overfill – it can damage the gearbox, and will result in excess oil being blown out of the breather pipe on top of the gearbox.

Speak to the experts

If you’d like expert advice on how to ensure the smooth running of your classic car’s engine, get in touch with KWE Cars. Call us on 01635 30030, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Influential cars from the 1970s

Currently enjoying their new ‘classic car’ status, many iconic models from the 1970s are becoming popular all over again. This is evident from the number of articles appearing in classic car media, highlighting models from the era and looking at ‘ones to watch’ in terms of investment potential. For example, Classic Car Magazine’s lead article this month, entitled ‘70s scorchers’, looks at the Ford Capri, BMW 3 series, Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Ford Escort and the Opel Commodore.

Of course, the Jaguar XJS would be at the top our list of classic cars from the era, but there are a few other cars we think are worth a mention – ones that have in some way influenced car design or the progress of automotive technology. None of these cars, in our opinion, match the XJS in terms of durability or lasting elegance, but are influential none the less.

Saab 99 Turbo (1978 to 1981)

Saab 99 Turbo

This chunky-looking car put the Swedish car manufacturer Saab firmly on the map when it was introduced in 1978. It was one of the first family cars to be fitted with a turbo engine and, although it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, it was well received from a performance and technology point of view. Its four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine offered 135bhp, outperforming many cars in its class at the time.

Just over 10,000 models were made. Some, like the limited edition five-door in Carnival Red, carry an upward price of £10,000 in today’s market.

BMW 3 series (E21 – 1975 to 1983)

BMW 3 series

This model was the bigger, boxier successor to the much-loved, but rather out dated 2002 series. When it was launched in 1975, Autocar described its performance as ‘zesty and smooth’. Thanks to a very high build quality and angled centre console – a totally new concept in terms of cockpit design – it soon built up its own reputation as an executive saloon car. Specifically the 323i model became the iconic sports saloon of its time.

High specification, restored 323i models today can fetch anything in the region of between £10-15,000, but they are hard to come by as – like so many BMWs from that era – corrosion was a major issue.

Audi 80 (B1 – 1972 to 1978, B2 – 1978 to 1986)

Audi 80

With its Bertone/Luthe styling and robust (and now legendary) EA827 engine, it’s easy to see why the Audi 80 was voted 1973’s European Car of the Year.

Audi added a sporty 1.6 GT version to its range in the same year, which became a well-known Q-car. When Audi revamped the range in 1976, the GT became the GTE (E for ‘einspritz’, which in English means injection). VW used the engine from this model for its Golf GTI.

Earlier models are rare; so expect to pay upwards of £10,000 for a car in good condition.

Porsche 924 (1975-1988)

Porsche 924

Initially conceived as a VW sports car, Porsche replaced its unpopular 914 model with the 924 in 1975. Despite its superb build quality and financial success – sales of this car allowed Porsche to take the 911 upmarket – the car was thought to be somewhat lacking in performance. This led Porsche to develop a turbo version in 1978, and a Carrera GT in 1981.

There are still quite a few around today, at auction expect to pay upwards of £2,000 for an early 1980s turbo model.

VW Scirocco (first generation 1974-1981)

VW Scirocco

The Mk1 Scirocco was a big success for Volkswagen and an instant hit when it was first released in 1974. It was styled and engineered to be a much sportier car than the Golf or Jetta – the platforms from which were used to underpin the design of the Scirocco. The desirable 1.6 litre ‘Storm’ also shared its engine with the Golf GTI, making it a very fast front wheel drive for its day. Now in its third generation, the Mk3 was reintroduced in 2008.

Sadly, issues with rust mean there are very few good-quality early edition Mk1s around to buy today.

Which models would be on your list?

Of course these are just some examples of influential cars from the era. There are many more; for example, we haven’t mentioned the Lancia Delta. We’d love to know which cars would be on your list. Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

For more information on the history of the Jaguar XJS, click here.


Classic Jaguar XJS buying tips

Thinking about restoring a classic Jaguar XJS? Well now’s a very good time, as this model is becoming an increasingly good investment opportunity. But how can you ensure you’re getting a good deal? And what can be done to minimise restoration costs? This post aims to shed some light on what to look out for when buying an XJS; it could save you a great deal of time and money!

Not all about initial impressions

First of all, it’s important to consider that sellers – in particular garages and dealers – will have gone to some trouble to make the car look pristine on the outside; but it is very unlikely that a seller will have done a proper restoration-quality repair of rusted areas. Therefore, a perfect-looking car is often in much worse condition than one with visible rust, which has not yet been ‘tarted-up’.

Overcome the fear of rust

As with all cars made of steel, the most important area to consider is rust, both the less visible painted areas and, more importantly, the hard-to-see underside and hidden cavities. The most expensive part of a restoration is usually the stripped re-spray. If you are careful in selecting a low-rust car, you could save around £10,000.

Examine the vehicle top to bottom

In order to counter these restoration costs, it’s important to examine a car extensively – inside and out, top to bottom. You will need to look underneath the car for any signs of decay, ideally on a vehicle lift or on axle stands. It’s even possible to form a reasonable judgement by kneeling down and looking at the important areas.


Areas to look at more closely

Jaguar XJSs have a tendency to rust in similar places – some more than others – so it’s possible to form a view of the total rust condition just by looking at a few of the usual suspect areas, as outlined below.


1.     Jacking points –

These areas are often weakened and can be disguised with filler and underseal. With the seller’s permission, have a good prod with a blunt metal object, such as a car key, all around the jacking points. Look for uneven surfaces, or suspiciously fresh-looking underseal.

2.     Floor pans –

There is a weakness on all the coupés around the seatbelt mounting re-enforcement, where a strengthening plate on the outside allows water to get trapped, which then rots through the floor. Not a good area to be weak.

3.     Windscreen scuttles –

On facelift cars (post-1991), rot in the windscreen scuttles is a very common issue that needs to be examined carefully, as the car may appear perfectly fine everywhere else. It is an expensive job, but needs to be repaired properly. For a more in depth look at scuttle rot, visit this link on our website.

4.     Front wings –

The bottom of the front wings where they meet the sills are often rusty on an XJS, so will have to be repaired, possibly more than once. Look for the bottom of the wing being flush with the sill. If it sticks out a bit then there is, or has been, rust.

5.     Rear wheel arches –

This is a very common area for Jaguar XJSs to rust. This should be something you aim to avoid, as it’s difficult, and expensive, to repair well.

6.     Forward edge of roof –

On late facelift cars (post-1993), there is often rust on the forward edge of the roof where it meets the ‘chrome’ finisher (actually stainless steel).

Consider a car’s ownership and history

Large city cars are often in worse condition, as they are usually only used for shorter journeys. A seemingly low mileage vehicle may have completed a lot of shorter journeys, which can lead to worn out brakes, door hinges, leather and carpets.

The ideal car is one that gets regular, light use on suburban or rural roads in the South of England. Up to about 100,000 miles is good for a V12 before it gets too expensive, and at least 150,000 miles for the XJS six cylinder engines. The old 4.2 XK engine in the XJ saloons needs reconditioning at about 80,000 miles on average.

In general, avoid cars that have spent much of their life further north than London, as winter road salt accelerates rusting by at least 10 times.

Speak to the experts

Don’t be tempted by the lure of a cheaper vehicle. Initially you may save on upfront costs, but in the long term, you are likely to spend more on restoring the car.

If you want expert advice, why not consider one of our two-hour condition assessments? Visit our website for more details or call on +44 (0) 1635 30030 for further information.

KWE’s classic car news round-up (April-May)

Here are a few news highlights from the classic car industry from the last couple of months…

Classic and vintage cars now seen as a stand alone investment (Live Trading News)

The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index notes that classic cars have beaten everything from art, watches and coins over the past 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. This is telling people that classic and vintage cars are a viable investment asset class.


Car of the month: stunning 1988 Jaguar XJS V12 convertible with room for ‘Pops’

We’ve recently completed the restoration of this now-stunning classic car. We were asked by the client to source a low-mileage donor car – it had to be blue, V12 and a convertible.


The car we found was actually Solent blue (a mid metallic blue). It was stripped back and repainted in Jaguar Westminster blue (a gorgeous dark navy).