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 revered 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 there 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.
Tim Hannig, Director, Jaguar Land Rover Classic
The Jaguar E-type Zero not only drives and looks like an E-type, it also offers outstanding performance. It’s quicker than an original E-type: 0-100km/h (62mph) takes only 5.5sec, about one second quicker than a Series 1 E-type.
Tim Hannig, Director, Jaguar Land Rover Classic
The E-type Zero vehicle, displayed at Tech Fest, is a restored Series 1.5 Roadster. It’s totally original in specification, apart from its 21st century state-of-the-art powertrain and modified instrumentation and fascia – although these are also inspired by the original E-type. LED headlights are also used to achieve energy efficiency. Again, they adopt the styling theme of the original Series 1 E-type.
Bespoke electric powertrain
An electric powertrain developing 220kW has been specially designed for the E-type Zero. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions, and similar weight, to the XK six-cylinder engine used in the original E-type. The experts responsible for developing the electric powertrain have ensured it will be placed in precisely the same location as the XK engine. The electric motor (and reduction gear) lies just behind the battery pack, in the same location as the E-type’s gearbox. A new propshaft sends power to a carry-over differential and final drive. Total weight is 46kg lower than the original E-type.
Using an electric powertrain with similar weight and dimensions to the outgoing petrol engine and transmission means the car’s structure, including suspension and brakes, has not changed, simplifying the conversion and homologation. It drives, handles, rides and brakes like an original E-type. Front-rear weight distribution is unchanged.
The E-type, launched in 1961, has regularly been voted the best-looking car of all time. Even Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made”.
E-type Zero’s unique electric powertrain was developed by an electric powertrain specialist in conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover engineers and to a specific brief from Jaguar Land Rover Classic. It uses some technology and components borrowed from the upcoming I-PACE, Jaguar Land Rover’s first production all-electric vehicle.
The E-type Zero has a ‘real world’ range of 270km (about 170 miles), helped by the low weight and good aerodynamics. It uses a 40kWh battery, which can be recharged from home overnight (typically in six to seven hours, depending on power source).
This is an extremely interesting development from Jaguar Classics, one that we at KWE like very much, having put thought into a similar project for the XJS… now that would be an exciting prospect, a fully electric Jaguar XJS. It would make these beautiful, comfortable classics timeless and clean.
We received this XJS just under a year ago, now after hundreds of man hours, this fine looking 6 litre convertible XJS has been completely restored. Currently the car is in safe transit back to our eager client in New York.
We were all very excited about this unique project, the client wanted the car restored to a very high specification, keeping to the original, charismatic styling.
Almost every part has been upgraded and restored including but not limited to a Full respray in the original colour, Brooklands green. Topped with a brand new convertible hood in beige mohair with beige lining. The 5 spoke wheels have been refurbished in polished alloy with golden in fills and an emerald green growler centre cap. The elegant exterior is matched by the luxurious camel coloured Connolly Vaumol hide leather interior with bottle green piping and stitching, matched with biscuit wool carpets with the same green edging. The internal refurbishment was completed with new burr walnut wood veneers. The little touches of gold really set this car off.
The engine has been completely re-built and detailed to a very high standard. We have even added an extra 15hp to the engine to give it more grunt. From a driveability point of view there are big gains in low-end torque and power – about 30% & 35% respectively which is huge at 2800rpm – just where you want it. A power increase of 35% at overtaking speeds is like a supercharger. On the road it feels fabulous!
In summary, we have thoroughly enjoyed this whole project, it’s a beautifully styled car and we hope the owner will be able to enjoy it for many many years to come.
Take a look at the walkaround video and full image gallery of the finished car in our showcase.
Full restoration process in pictures, see our off-site build gallery.
There is nothing quite like the thrill of taking your classic on a road trip. Whether it’s Amalfi Coast in Italy, the Grande Corniche in France or the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, some of the world’s most majestic scenery and stunning roads are on our back-door step; and with the Spring firmly upon us, there is no better time to hit the road.
But before you grab your passport and make a mad dash for the White Cliffs of Dover, it’s a good idea to spend some time making sure your car is ready for the trip ahead.
The Jaguar XJS has a fantastic V12 engine that can withstand a great deal of spirited driving; but you shouldn’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. Having your engine seize in the Highlands of Scotland is not going to be a pleasant experience.
Perishables, perishables, perishables
Regular maintenance is the key to longevity when it comes to classics, and only you will know how well the vehicle has been maintained. Assuming that the vehicle has been regularly serviced and that your tyres are in good condition, getting ready for a big road trip shouldn’t be too painful an experience.
One of the most common causes of break downs on a road trip is the failure of perishables such as coolant hoses and drive belts. People often forget that rubber is affected by the passage of time, not by mileage. Therefore, you should check the condition of all engine perishables on any classic that is not subject to routine maintenance – particularly your hoses, which can harden and crack over time. Leaving them unrepaired can lead to a seized engine, which can cost many thousands of pounds to rectify.
Be prepared for the unexpected
Chris Knowles, KWE Cars MD and Jaguar XKS specialist shares one of his holiday experiences:
“We were driving to France for our summer holiday, departing from Portsmouth.” Chris explains. “Whilst boarding the ferry a radiator hose burst resulting in us limping onto the ferry. We had to persuade the ferry crew to let us onto the secure car deck to repair it. Once we’d carried out a ‘ferryside’ repair at sea, the car was ok to drive however, the holiday was fraught with worry that we could breakdown at anytime. Lesson learned, always prepare before your trip and always be prepared. Even the experts get caught out sometimes!”
KWE offer a perishable service package, comprising:
along with minor tuning if necessary and a full service of the car.
This is usually enough to get your car ready for a big road trip, but the service can be upgraded to address all the most common areas of failure in a classic engine. The upgraded service returns a high level of reliability without carrying out any major restoration work on the engine.
It’s worth noting that this is not a drop-in service, and has to be booked in advance.
Nothing beats the thrill of a classic road-trip. Whether it’s winding across the B Roads of England or cruising past the dramatic peninsulas of the French Riviera, your classic Jaguar will be in its element.
Before booking your self-drive holiday, check that your planned route does not include towns or cities that you are not able to drive your classic. Many places like London in the UK have low emission zones, we’ve provided a couple of useful links below to help you:
Once you set off, you shouldn’t have a care in the world. Just you, your car and the road ahead. But to reach this state of classic car nirvana, it’s important to put some preparation in ahead of time.
We’ve put together a useful checklist to prepare for your dream driving holiday:
In car toolkit
There are simple things you can do yourself to make sure your car is in good, roadworthy condition such as checking your tyre pressures and tread, topping up your oil, and surveying the engine bay carefully for coolant leaks, power steering leaks and oil level, brake fluid level and gearbox oil level. These simple tasks are vital to keeping your car running smoothly on the road and to stop your engine overheating.
Our simple checklist can give you peace of mind ahead of your trip; but the most important thing to remember is your sense of adventure! Have an unforgettable holiday and we’ll see you on the other side.
unequal tyre pressures
uneven tyre wear
different tyre types
incorrectly-setup suspension geometry
there could be different brake retardation between left and right brake discs/pads
the tyres could have uneven grip
on ABS-equipped cars) you should feel the car judder violently as the ABS alternately skids and releases the brakes.
on non-ABS cars, at least one front wheel should lock-up and skid.
If it is not possible to make the wheels skid on a dry road then the overall brake efficiency is down, usually because one or more brake caliper piston is seized.
ride height is incorrect
car has been lowered
wrong tyre profiles have been fitted
There are many more suspension faults that can be identified visually or by ear. Come and see us, we can spot them and correct them for you!
*Please ensure that you if you carry out any of the above, do so in a safe environment and manner.
We enjoy to showcase the cars we lovingly build and restore and what better way see restorations in person than attend a classic car show. There are many classic and sports car events and festivals to attend this year, we have handpicked a few of our favourites below.
Ready. Set Go.
To ensure your Jaguar is in pristine condition for this year’s events book it in with us for a spruce up.
31 March – 2 April – NEC Birmingham
Officially the UK’s fastest growing classic car event, over 19,000 enthusiasts attended last year’s show, bringing together all aspects of classic motoring. From barn finds and project cars, to restorations with proud as punch owners. The Restoration and Classic Car Show hosts motoring experts and celebrities, presents live demonstrations and showcases over 1,000 classic cars.
30 April – 1 May – Stratford-upon-Avon
Running for four years now, this event celebrates the driving of motor vehicles. With over 300 cars taking a run out in the countryside over the bank holiday and finishing in the town centre for a parade it is an experience not to be missed. The main feature at this year’s festival will make a superb display from the local car manufacturer, Jaguar!
9 July – Beaulieu
Shine your XJS and buff up your E-Type… whichever model you drive or admire, it’s a great opportunity to connect with fellow enthusiasts; all are welcome at the 2nd Simply Jaguar event. As well as seeing hundreds of Jaguars you can also enjoy all that Beaulieu has to offer. Entry tickets include admission to all the Beaulieu attractions; The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and more.
28 – 30 July – Towcester
The packed weekend of the Silverstone Classic provides;
· spectacular historic motor racing on the world famous circuit
· free access to the paddocks and grandstands
· displays from over 100 car clubs featuring more than 10,000 classic cars
· interactive driving activities
· dynamic demonstrations
· live music
· air displays
· a vintage fun fair
· a shopping village
It’s an event for the whole family.
8 – 10 September – Chichester
Every September the Revival recreates the golden era of Goodwood Motor Circuit, between 1948 and 1966. This extraordinary event assembles the most significant racing cars and motorcycles along with legendary drivers and riders from the past and stars of today. The Revival is the only historic race meeting to be staged entirely in period dress. Nowhere else can you see this combination of world-class classic cars and vintage style.
10 – 12 November – NEC Birmingham
With everything from classic to vintage to retro cars, the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show will not disappoint. This event gives you a taste of everything, whether you have a passion for traditional British classics, vintage motors, historic motorsport, European exotica, American muscle or if you prefer, like we do, the more modern retro classics.
Share your experiences
If you have been to a show that you have really enjoyed, we’d love for you to share your experiences and pictures with us.
Arrive in style
Arrive in style to all the classic car shows in a fully restored Jaguar XJS. Whether it’s rebuilding, repairing or upgrading, we can help you design the specification for your classic Jaguar XJS, just drop us an email or give us a call.