Continuing our series of guest blog posts, we asked loyal customer Tony Bray to tell us why he chose his XJS, and how KWE helped to make it ‘the best car it could be.’ (more…)
In Doug’s second guest blog, we asked about any memorable journeys he’s taken in his XJS – and we certainly weren’t disappointed! It looks like Doug’s got the right idea when it comes to classic car ownership, as he gets so much more from the car than if it was kept in a garage all the time.
I’m not keen on cars sitting in garages or concourse-style perfection. Don’t get me wrong, I am pedantic about how she looks, is maintained and drives. The key requirement being that the car must be driven. I bought her to enjoy driving and feel connected to the road, not to look at and polish – granted I do a fair bit of this too.
To this end, we recently took her to the Spa Classic Racing meeting at Spa Francorchamps circuit last May. (more…)
As part of a new series of blog posts, we will be inviting a number of XJS owners and Jaguar enthusiasts to contribute to our blog, telling us exactly why they love the XJS.
We spoke to loyal KWE customer, Doug Wilson, about why he’s fond of his XJS, and what makes it better than the modern vehicles in his garage.
Born in Lanark, Scotland
Occupation: Company Director, Power Utility Company
Interests: Music, guitar playing and collecting, whisky collecting and drinking, shooting, reading, sports and international travel
My wife drives a Land Rover Defender. I use a Mercedes GL350 AMG Sport Bluetech as my daily driver. My V12 Jaguar XJS Coupe (1989) is my classic car choice and I also run a modern sports car. For the last ten years or so this has always been a Mercedes SL500 or new SL 400 variant. However, I have recently traded-in my SL400 for a new Mercedes AMG GTS which is due to arrive in April of this year.
The XJS for me is a very rare combination of style, substance and speed. Delivering on the trilogy with aplomb. An XJS stands out from the crowd in a subtle and classy way, it can be elegant, sporty or rakish – it just depends what mood you are in.
Most people drool over the E-Type and yes, it is a beautiful car to ‘look’ at but from a practical perspective it is cramped and drives like a camel with a sore hoof. The XJS just strikes a chord with me on so many levels. The flying buttresses are divine, the long side profile cool and sophisticated and peering over the long bonnet from behind the wheel is as close as we mere mortals get to piloting our own spitfire.
It is a vehicle that delivers on all its promises and more. If there is a better GT of this vintage I have yet to drive it. Inside the cabin you have all the mod-cons, way ahead of its time, great comfort (amazing seats) and the feeling that you are wafting on your very own personal magic carpet.
The engine and gearbox combinations vary from year to year but I like the Borg Warner 3 speed and the 5.3 V12. Okay, from 0-60 it is not as fast as modern GTs but from 60-100 and 100 on up the engine is a sheer delight. You will not burn people off at the lights (well not everybody), but you will catch and fly past them effortlessly in an unhurried and serene manner. You need to try very hard to get an XJS flustered; it has impeccable manners and breeding.
Getting used to a three speed, long geared, automatic box takes a while, but when you master the art of downshift and understand the range of each gear, it is a very relaxing way to drive.
I spent a few months looking for the right car to buy and probably overpaid slightly for the correct provenance and history – one of my better decisions. It was a one-owner car with a genuine 24K miles on the clock. The gentleman who owned the car drove a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow during the week and had the XJS to take him to his golf club at the weekends. A very civilised way to live!
The car was unmolested or modified and came with a history file that would have choked a horse as well as all the original manuals, keys and tools etc. It was obvious that the car had been loved and the original leather was virtually unblemished. I loved the colour too, Arctic Blue with a Saville Grey leather interior. These were the good points.
The drawbacks were that age had taken its toll on the suspension, brakes and steering. It was like driving a burst couch with only a vague idea of where the steering was pointed or would take you. Hence my search for a firm that could modernise and improve the weak points while still retaining and improving on what Jaguar had intended. Enter KWE.
I’ve been fortunate to own and drive a selection of lovely and desirable modern cars. However, never have I owned a car that people liked to talk about more than the XJS. Younger people want to know what it is. Many people want to talk about the one they had or the car that a friend or boss had that they admired. It is impossible to fill the car up with fuel without having some sort of conversation about the vehicle.
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In our second instalment in the guest blog series, we ask classic car enthusiast, Rhett Redelings why he chose the Jaguar XJ-S over other available models. Here’s what he had to say:
I was the only child of a single parent. My mother worked in the classic car business, which exposed me to many high-end collectable cars, Jaguars among them. And Jags were always a favourite in our household. But as the only child of a single parent, I was somewhat in need of a male role model and, rightly or wrongly, I looked to film and television to show me the options.
In the summer vacation of 1982, between my first and second year of high school, while most of my friends were away for the summer, one of the local stations began running Return of the Saint early every evening. Ian Ogilvy was intense and electrifying in a way Roger Moore had never seemed to me and, filmed against all those exotic Italian and French locations with his white Jaguar XJ-S, he looked every inch the man I’d hoped to become, wide open shirt and regrettable 70’s fashions be damned.
By 1982, the Jaguar XJ-S had barely made it to US shores, so my first thought when I saw one tearing across my television with a stick-man at the wheel was “What is THAT?” The XJ-S looked unlike anything else on the road (a condition which is still true, 40 years later).
Ogilvy’s Simon Templar was smooth, well mannered and sophisticated. He rarely resorted to punch-ups but, and at 15, I believed he absolutely had the ferocity to do so successfully. His car reflected the same sophistication, power and graceful restraint. It looked rich, it looked fast but it was neither gaudy like an Italian wedge of a car, nor was it big and clumsy like an American muscle car.
Nowhere is it truer that we are what we drive than in California, and the Saint’s Jaguar XJ-S looked like the car the man I hoped I’d grow up to be would someday drive.
Then Return of the Saint was gone. My friends returned from vacation, school resumed and I only ever met one other person who had seen it. It never came out on video tape, never ran in syndication again and it became kind of mythical, hugely important to me at a very formative time, but not something I could share.
Flash forward to 2013 and my wife and I are having cocktails and reminiscing about all the cars we fantasised about in our youth. Having grown up in the collector car business, I’d had a chance to drive most of my dream cars and, sadly, found most of them looked much better than they actually drove. The one exception was the Jaguar XJ-S. A quick Internet search later and purchase prices for a Jaguar XJ-S looked surprisingly, and somewhat deceptively, accessible.
Of course, there are no cheap Jaguars, nor should there be. We found an XJ-S worth saving, in white with mulberry interior, not unlike the old Return of The Saint Corgi XJ-S. But, other than a straight body and strong engine, it had little to recommend it. The car needed almost everything an XJ-S could possibly need. And I absolutely had to have it.
Rather than hire a trailer to bring it the 125-miles home, I bought a fire extinguisher and case of oil and decided to drive it home, thinking “I’ve driven cars in dodgy shape before. How bad could it be?”
When we were about halfway home, well after the sun had gone down, I hit a small pothole on the highway and the headlights went out. Thankfully, there was another pothole right behind it because that one knocked the lights back on again. A jolt of fear ran through my body, and I had the answer to my question: It could be really freaking bad, actually.
How many cars had I pushed off the road in my time? And how many cars had I seen wrecked and burned? I put my hand on the shifter and said to the car with all the solemnity a godless man could muster and whispered: “Just get me home. Take care of me and I’ll take care of you. You’ll see, we’re going to be great together.” I wasn’t praying to a god or to the heavens, I was praying to the car.
I pulled into our driveway an hour later and, with a buzz of excitement and a sigh of relief shut the car off. The next morning, I came out to the drive with a cup of coffee to review what, at that point (and for some time later), felt like my latest folly and I could not believe the drop-dead gorgeous car that was in my driveway. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen on four wheels, and it was mine!
Honestly, there have been some rough points getting the car back together that have tested the strength of my convictions. If the car were not so beautiful, I probably would have given up on it. But it is beautiful and it has incredible presence. And, while the original owner cared for it somewhat indiscriminately, he did at least have the presence of mind to garage the car, so the original paint still looks fresh and the interior still smells of sweet Connolly leather and wood.
Sometimes, I’ll come out in the evenings with a glass of wine and just look at it or sit in the driver’s seat without starting the engine and enjoy just being with the car in silence.