As another great year draws to a close, we’ve taken a look back at some of our highlights over the last 12-months…
It’s been a big year for the Jaguar XJS, as it celebrated its 40th birthday in September. To commemorate this landmark, we held an event at our Newbury-based workshop. We were delighted to welcome customers old and new who joined in the birthday celebrations, many bringing along their prized XJS cars.
Classic car and Jaguar enthusiasts from across the country were treated to a motoring spectacle, as Greenham Business Park was awash with an array of stunning Jaguar XJS models. You may have also read about the event in the Newbury Weekly News.
View the full Facebook album here.
As more and more customers recognise the classic Jaguar XJS as a good investment opportunity, we are pleased to report that business is booming here at KWE. To meet growing demand, we’ve expanded our operations on Greenham Business Park and taken on three new recruits. In January we welcomed Andy Banning and in March both Phil Alexander and Bishwa Shah joined the KWE family.
Earlier this year, we also acquired an additional plot of land next to the existing premises. The new plot has been designed so that we can park customer cars while restoration work is waiting to be carried out or is in progress – ensuring maximum workshop efficiency.
We’ve worked on many fantastic cars this year, doing what we love the most – restoring classic cars back to ‘better than new’ quality. Particular highlights from the 60+ projects we’ve completed, include:
Prior to its full-scale makeover, this classic had been sitting in the sidelines at KWE for several years, awaiting a client to commission its restoration.
The body has been completely stripped and repainted in gloss black, with ‘biscuit’ Connolly hide throughout, full interior makeover, and new KWE suspension, making this classic a real head-turner.
The client spotted Theresa’s car and said he wanted one just like it, but with a V12 engine. We repainted the coupé in Jaguar Meteor Red, rebuilt the engine, fitted new KWE suspension, brakes and steering, with new interior trim throughout.
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). The engine was removed for an intensive KWE overhaul, we also gave the car new suspension, brakes and a steering renewal and upgrade. The interior has been fully refurbished. It now boasts brand new Connolly hide, European walnut woods and dark blue carpet.
The client had one more special request – he likes to take his dog out with him when he drives his car, so needed somewhere flat in the back for him to sit. We took out the convertible luggage box in the back of the cabin and replaced it with a flat floor. Thankfully we succeeded and now Pops sits in full wool-trimmed luxury.
It’s been a brilliant year for the classic car market, as it is now worth more than £6bn in the UK, employing thousands across the country as demand increases. This growing market falls in line with the fact that more motorists are turning to classic cars as their vehicle of choice.
The Knight Frank Luxury Investment index recently noted that classic cars have beaten everything from art, watches, gold and coins over the past one, five, and 10 years.
The Jaguar XJS is no exception, as it continues to prove its investment potential as a modern classic. Earlier this year, we compiled a table, using data from Classic Car Buyer, illustrating more clearly the rising values of all XJS models, no matter what the condition (see below).
On the back of this news, managing director, Chris Knowles wrote an article for Investment Week looking at which classic cars to invest in.
The XJS continues to be featured in the press, with many motoring journalists shortlisting the XJS as one of the top classic cars to invest in right now.
To all our customers old and new – Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at KWE cars. We look forward to working together in 2016.
If you would like to find out more about our services, please call 01635 30030.
There are certain myths and stigmas attached to classic car ownership; however, we believe these assumptions are uncalled for, with no real evidence to back them up. In this post, we aim to dispel some of these niggling doubts, and hope to show you what makes classic cars so great – better than modern vehicles in many cases…
Driving a classic car can be perceived negatively – particularly when it comes to the environment. Environmentalists sometimes view classic cars as being gas guzzling planet destroyers, due to their poor fuel efficiency. In reality, salvaging a classic car is in fact an excellent example of recycling – maximising the use of something rather than just disposing of it.
Keeping an old motor running, rather than just replacing it at the nearest opportunity, is sustainable and limits the amount of waste in our scrapheaps.
Some prospective classic car owners are put off by the thought of their car’s value rapidly depreciating – especially if driven regularly. In some cases this may be true, as with the ‘flashier’ marques, such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, which don’t fare that well off the racetrack – particularly on uneven road surfaces and when confronted with speed bumps. These cars are more of an investment than a usable vehicle.
This needn’t be the case, however. Vehicles labelled as ‘modern classics’ are more driveable, and can indeed prove excellent vehicles for modern, day-to-day life. Classic cars like the Jaguar XJS are versatile, practical and, best of all, fun to drive. They’re also proving excellent investments, as this article by Yahoo Autos recently pointed out.
Find out more about the XJS and its investment potential.
In some cases this can most certainly be the case, as shoddy workmanship will no doubt markedly decrease your vehicle’s value. Distasteful or bad quality restoration is likely to be frowned upon by those within the classic car community, who favour in keeping, high quality restoration.
At KWE we have many years’ experience restoring classic Jaguars while keeping the appearance and ride characteristics as factory-new and wholeheartedly believe that high quality re-engineering can actually increase your car’s value. We can also of course make further improvements – both cosmetic and mechanical – to the client’s requirements.
We have worked on a number of bespoke projects: Manual gearbox conversions, power enhancement, modernised engine management, custom sound systems, revised electronics and even wine racks for James May and making room for our client’s dog, Pops!
This is one of the biggest fears associated with classic car ownership, and puts doubt in the minds of many potential owners. Rust can indeed cause a lot of damage, and make your vehicle unfit to drive. With some TLC and expert engineering advice, rust can be avoided and kept at bay.
To ensure that you aren’t leaving the rusting of your classic car to chance, why not speak to the experts? KWE are experienced in preventing and remedying rust, and have developed techniques which make our cars last a lot longer than average. We know where to look for rust, and offer both cavity wax injection for box sections, and full under body sealant renewal.
We recommend repeating this inspection and proofing process every second year. This regime vastly reduces the chance of further rusting. If the customer specifies a bare metal re-spray it is then possible to inspect any previous topside problems and rectify them if necessary.
Read our post on rust prevention for more information.
Perceived rarity isn’t everything when it comes to classic cars. It’s not all about initial value, but rate of growth. The XJS is growing in esteem and sales value in leaps and bounds – more in percentage terms than Italian exotics. Cars dubbed ‘modern classics’ are reaching new heights, and proving affordable investments for those looking not only to achieve excellent returns, but also to enjoy their investment in real-life situations.
Highly desirable cars are not necessarily rare. The Jaguar XJS is a fine example of this, and as it becomes increasingly popular, its investment potential is growing also. Now’s the time to invest before prices sky rocket!
If well maintained, higher mileage classic cars are more likely to be reliable, simply because they are driven more regularly. Parts that may have been faulty have long since been replaced with new ones. Cars that have lower-mileage, on the other hand, may look good on paper, but in reality can be riddled with issues that haven’t been resolved.
A driven car is a car that has been known and understood by someone.
Winter can be a difficult time for any car owner, as the cold weather and icy conditions put an extra strain on the vehicle. And this links to the earlier point about rust, as salty roads speed up the dreaded rusting process. Again, this needn’t be the case, as with appropriate care and attention, your classic car can be just as comfortable in the winter months as any other modern vehicle. Check out our top tips for running your classic car in the winter.
If you have any other myths you’d like us to dispel, feel free to give us a call on +44 1635 30030 or visit our showroom at Greenham Business Park in Newbury.
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.
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. This week, we’ve gone across the pond and asked California-based, Rhett Redelings what makes the car so special to him.
I would argue that the Jaguar XJ-S is a work of modern art. Just standing still, before you know anything about the car, the lines of the bonnet, that subtle hint of a power bulge and those flying buttresses make the XJ-S look like it’s already moving so fast that it’s pulling ahead of itself and stretching out of its own skin. As onlookers, we are about to witness a transformation or climax and, like the car, we are forever suspended, right at the edge of that forever-unresolved moment.
There is a subtle tension in the design that seems also to reflect the times in which the car was created. Everything works, visually, ergonomically and technically, but only just. Depending which angle you view it from, the XJ-S either looks old and elegant or oddly modern and vital. Sharing the XJ platform is wonderful of ride and handling but makes the car, viewed from the profile, seem slightly too long, and yet perfect when viewed from any other angle.
Released in the mid 1970’s, but with a design language from the 1960’s, the XJ-S probably looked old fashioned the day it was revealed, but it’s this very quality that makes the car look timeless today.
Everything is held in a delicate balance and, depending who you are, all that tension and unresolvable anticipation makes the car either uncomfortable to behold or infinitely captivating. In my case, I find the XJ-S irresistibly and enduringly desirable in all its forms but never more so than in the original, pre-facelift coupé body style.
Beyond the styling of the car, a well-sorted XJ-S is just an incredibly capable Grand Tourer. The performance, road manners, ride, and comfort are all excellent, even by modern standards.
While the underpinnings are shared with the XJ saloons, and the transmission made by GM, much of the car is bespoke. The door handles, for instance, are somewhat unintuitive but beautiful in their own way and feel very satisfying and sophisticated when, with a slight squeeze, they click the doors open. The headlamp surrounds, the grille, the steering wheel, seats and so forth, are exclusive to the Jaguar XJ-S. The level of trim exceeds that on my ’84 XJ6 Vanden Plas.
Upon opening the car door, a gentle squeezing motion and the sweet, sophisticated aroma of Connolly leather greets me. When I get in the car, I am insulated in what feels like a very exclusive space; the Recaro-style seat firmly cradling me with exactly the right lumbar support and firmness.
Everything about the car inspires confidence, from the feel of the seats to the sound of the ignition, the power of the acceleration and the way the car can take a fast corner without ever breaking traction. When I do sometimes take a corner too fast, the independent rear suspension has a kind of magical way of bearing down, keeping the car on the surface of the road, defying physics.
I have driven faster cars but never a car so smoothly, consistently powerful. For instance, 80 mph in second gear, the engine is at 3500 rpm and feels like it would let me take it over the red line before it would run out of available power. And then there’s 3rd gear…
Driving it is exhilarating but not effortless, not mindless. It absolutely rewards the skilled driver but it is not forgiving. Almost like a living thing, the XJ-S needs me to drive it as much as I need it. In a way, this is part of what I love about it and, in my opinion, part of its ‘Jag-ness’. Driving it demands that I be fully present in the moment, not absently thinking about projects I left unfinished at work or the pressures that lie ahead.
Driving my XJ-S is a kind of meditation. I feel rejuvenated after driving it, never exhausted. I have never ended a day with it without wishing I could get back in the car and just keep going.
The XJ-S is a car crying out to be understood. For the owner of one, it is essential. But it’s impossible to understand the XJ-S without having at least passing awareness of what came before and what came after. To love the XJ-S is to love all Jaguars, to some degree, but mostly it is to know the XJ-S in its context.
In part, I think the Jaguar XJ-S is special to me because it’s a bit of an underdog. Plenty of other cars in its class, Ferraris, Astons, the beloved E-Type etc., require more than average upkeep, suffer reliability issues, inconsistent build quality and so forth, but the XJ-S seems uniquely dogged by these criticisms.
Despite some initially poorly conceived engineering choices, the XJ-S is, at its core, a brilliant example of automotive craftsmanship. Faster than the MBZ 450 SL, more comfortable than a Porsche 911, and considerably more refined than the Ferrari 308 GTB and very nearly as fast, the Jaguar XJ-S, built under better circumstances, would have been the world-beater it was meant to be.
The XJS is a hugely important car. Not only is it magnificent to drive, sumptuously refined and strikingly beautiful, if somewhat unconventionally so, it’s arguable that we wouldn’t still have either Jaguar or Aston Martin without it.
Both companies, then essentially divisions of the Ford Motor Company, leveraged the XJS as a shortcut to developing both the Aston Martin DB7 and the Jaguar XK8, two Grand Tourers credited with saving their respective companies. In fact, I’d go even further to say that the Aston Martin DB9 and Jaguar F-Type both drive and feel very much like modern interpretations of the XJS.
The technologies and underpinnings have certainly evolved but our fundamental expectation of what a premier Grand Tourer is, how it should handle, how to blend the luxurious character with its sporting nature, is all built on the example of the XJ-S; a Grand Tourer that was so good at being just that, that it lives on, at least in spirit, in two of the most desirable British car marques today.
Not bad for a car initially regarded as a poor follow up to the E-Type.
You want to ensure your recently purchased classic car lives up to your high expectations. In order to get it up to scratch, you might be considering customisation or restoration work. You may be sceptical, however, as some in the classic car community frown upon such customisation, branding it sacrilegious to a car’s original philosophy.
So, should customisation be considered as part of a restoration plan at all? Or should you bite the bullet and accept the car for what it is, even if it doesn’t meet your requirements? This post examines whether customisation should be embraced or avoided altogether.
There’s always the risk when carrying out a customisation project that the work may not befit the quality of the original vehicle. Shoddy workmanship will depreciate value, and may even cause some major engineering problems in the long term.
A new trend, coined ‘restomodding’, draws from the advancements in automobile technology to enhance the performance, comfort and safety of the classic car. At KWE, we refer to this as ‘re-engineering’. We use modern parts and materials to bring longer life, safety and performance to classic cars. The result is a classic that can be used for daily driving, a holiday adventure or transcontinental blast in comfortable excitement.
This doesn’t mean that all ‘restomods’ fulfil the brief, as many would argue that they have been tastelessly restored, leaving some classic motoring enthusiasts wincing. If you’re not looking for a Pimp My Ride-style abomination, it’s probably best to seek expert advice.
KWE Cars prides itself on its ability to restore classic Jaguars back to ‘better than new’ quality. With many years’ engineering experience, we are firm believers in restoring with your needs in mind – and we make sure we complete all work to the highest standard.
When it comes to customisation, we believe that it comes part and parcel with classic car ownership; it’s all about making sure the car suits your way of life. We focus on improving performance and making the vehicle more practical and comfortable for modern life – all without ruining that classic car magic that enthusiasts crave.
Through carefully tailored and bespoke solutions, our interior and exterior customisations allow for an enhanced driving experience. Leaving no stone unturned, we can restore all aspects of your classic car, from new leather seats and alloy wheels to reconditioning the engine.
We’ve worked on some interesting cars over the years, taking into account our customers’ varied requirements. We believe this stands testament to our ‘can do’ attitude and expertise.
We recently finished the restoration of a 1988 V12 convertible XJS, complete with a special request from its owner. The client likes to take his dog, a black Labrador named Pops, out with him when he drives his XJS, so needed somewhere flat in the back for him to sit. We removed the convertible luggage box in the cabin and replaced it with a flat floor. Pops now sits in full wool-trimmed luxury!
Other bespoke customisations include personalised leather seats and alloy wheels, state-of-the-art sound systems, and a wine rack in the boot for James May and Oz Clarke’s BBC series.
KWE customers can design and commission their own alloy wheels, select that perfect shade for the paintwork, customise leather interiors, and so on – we do all this with the highest degree of skill, ensuring that the finished result befits your high expectations.
Driving a classic car should be a privilege, and a carefully planned restoration can enhance this experience further. A quality, high finish customisation will embrace and sympathise with the craftsmanship of the era, building upon this to further enhance the pleasure that comes from owning a classic car.
If you’d like to see what we could do for your classic Jaguar, please visit the restoration services page on our website or get in touch. Call us on 01635 30030, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Many of our Jaguar XJS customers seek our advice on classic car insurance, and no wonder – it’s a rather different requirement from normal car insurance.
It’s important you consult a reputable broker who specialises in classic car insurance, in order to get the best possible cover for your classic car. We would recommend researching the following insurance companies, but there are, of course, other reputable brokers available:
We would highly recommend going for ‘Replacement Value’ insurance cover, in case of unexpected damage, such as a collision or accident as you drive your freshly-restored classic away from KWE! This helps to overcome issues relating to the ‘book’ value that insurers sometimes offer, which might be a tenth of what you’ve just spent.
The above insurers provide specialist advice, and really know their stuff when it comes to classic cars. While they might offer only a limited mileage policy (typically 6,000 miles per year), they should be fine with insuring the car for a more accurate replacement value. KWE can confirm the value of the works done for Insurers. In the end it is about establishing what it would cost to replace the car with one in similar condition. We take the view that substantial improvements such as an engine rebuild or bare-metal respray, or full suspension renewal would count at their cost value on top of the car’s intrinsic but non-restored market value. Items such as servicing, repairs and rust protection would not add to the replacement value.
So do inform the broker about the following if applicable:
The sort of things that would be excluded from your policy are as follows:
A big thank you to everyone who visited our workshop this weekend for our open day, celebrating 40 years (in 2015) of the Jaguar XJS. The event was a great success, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
We were delighted to welcome customers old and new to our showroom to join in the birthday celebrations, many bringing along their prized XJS cars.