XJS & XJ from KWE Cars
Classic Spirit Reborn

Classic car news round up (December-January)

Happy New Year from all at KWE Cars! To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of the top classic car news stories from the last couple of months… Still good news for classic car owners!

How to invest in classic cars and dodge the pitfalls: From buying at auction to putting money in a fund (This is Money)

Classic cars have been one of the best performing alternative assets in the past year and going back further than that. Investors and enthusiasts have seen returns of up to 487% on classic motors such as Ferraris and Jaguars over the past decade.

The returns can be miles ahead of shares and property, but what are the best ways to invest and how can you make sure your investment doesn’t breakdown?

Classic can vintage cars more desirable than ever (Live Trading News)

Classic and Vintage cars are proving to be excellent investments. Classic cars were the top-performing asset class in property consultancy Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index in Y2015, and they rose by 16% in Y2014.

The index rose overall by 10% last year, growing by a very healthy 205% over the past 10 years. Classic and Vintage cars have been the strongest performer over both the long and short term.

The Historic Automobile Group (HAGI) known for its classic car indexes, has shown that the market for the very rarest of classic cars has risen by 487% over the past 10 years, and grew 16% last year, following the index’s 47% rise the year before.

Looking for a classic car? How about a Jaguar XJS?

Looking for a classic car? How about a Jaguar XJS?

10 classic car events not to be missed in 2016 (Classic Driver)

As we enter a new year, our thoughts turn to the 2016 events season. So grab that calendar, and prepare to note down the ‘must-attend’ meetings this year…

‘Passion investing’ in classic cars is gaining speed (CNBC)

So-called passion investing — allocating wealth toward high-value collectibles — has been around for about 10 years and is now expanding into the classic car arena.

Classic cars are gaining attention due to their nearly 500% returns over the past decade, outpacing art and wine by more than 100%, as reported by the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index.

Auction highlights 2015 – this is what $161.8m worth of classic cars looks like (Classic Driver)

It’s been a year seemingly crammed with auctions and, while some trends are in line with those from last year, overall it’s a fairly different picture. Have a look at the top 10 most expensive cars sold at auction in 2015…

This ex-Juan Manuel Fangio 1956 Ferrari 290 MM sold for $28,050,000

This ex-Juan Manuel Fangio 1956 Ferrari 290 MM sold for $28,050,000

New year, new classic car?

If you’re looking to get your 2016 off to a flyer, get in touch with the classic car engineering experts at KWE Cars. We’re experts in restoring Jaguar XJ-based models back to ‘better than new’ quality. Call us on 01635 30030, ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Guest blog vol.2: Why choose the Jaguar XJ-S over other classic cars?

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:

Honestly, it feels more like the Jaguar XJ-S chose me, rather than the other way around.

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.

Simon Templar and his Jaguar XJ-S in Return of the Saint

Simon Templar and his Jaguar XJ-S in Return of the Saint

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.

Rhett's Jaguar XJ-S

Rhett’s Jaguar XJ-S

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.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen on four wheels

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.

Rhett's 1988 Jaguar XJS coupé in Glacier White

Rhett’s 1988 Jaguar XJ-S coupé in Glacier White

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.

Follow Rhett on Instagram or Twitter.

Guest blog post vol. 1: What makes the Jaguar XJ-S special?

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.

About Rhett

Location: San Francisco Bay area, California, U.S.A.
Occupation: IT Manager, City of Sausalito

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 09.39.36

Which cars do you currently own?

  • 1988 Jaguar XJ-S coupe in Glacier White with a Mulberry interior, an HE V12 engine with the stock GM Turbo 400 3-speed automatic transmission, and a very early ABS braking system. This was our first Jaguar, and easily the one we’ve invested the most time, money and love in.
  • 1984 Jaguar XJ6 series 3 with the Vanden Plas trim in Maraschino Black with tan interior. The “series 3” is my daily driver.
  • 1995 Jaguar X300 (XJ6), also with the Vanden Plas trim. This magnificent beast of a car is what my wife drives when she doesn’t need the Subaru for errands not befitting a Jag.

What makes the Jaguar XJ-S special to you?

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.

Rhett's 1988 Jaguar XJ-S coupé in Glacier White

Rhett’s 1988 Jaguar XJ-S coupé in Glacier White

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 Legacy

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.

Jaguar XJ-S

V12 1988 XJ-S – Rhett’s very first Jaguar

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.

Classic car customisation: embrace or avoid?

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.

When things go wrong

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.

classic car customisation

Classic car customisation: What do you think of this modified Jaguar XJS?

Credible classic car customisation from engineering experts

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!

Pops the Labrador loves his customised XJS!

Pops the Labrador loves his customised XJS!

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.

KWE can customise your classic car inside and out

KWE can customise your classic car inside and out

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.

Pay us a visit

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.

KWE’s quick guide to classic car insurance

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.

Classic car insurance Jaguar

Classic car insurance can be tricky; make sure you speak to a reputable broker

So do inform the broker about the following if applicable:

  • Suspension renewal
  • Engine renewal
  • New interior
  • Add-ons such as stainless steel exhaust systems, HID headlamps, parking sensors, audio system upgrades
  • New wheels
  • Digital Engine Management
  • Power enhancement kits
  • It’s also important to enquire about re-spray value, which will need to be negotiated with the insurer.

The sort of things that would be excluded from your policy are as follows:

  • Maintenance and servicing
  • Rust repairs (on the basis that a replacement car should not have rust)
  • Cleaning and valeting

Classic car engineering experts

If you would like more advice on classic cars, or have a project you’d like us to get to work on, please get in touch. Call us on 01635 30030, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

KWE completes restoration of stylish Series 3 Saloon

We recently completed work on a 1983 Jaguar XJ12 Series 3 Saloon. 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.

Jaguar XJ12

Jaguar XJ12 pre-refurbishment

Last year, one of our existing customers enlisted our expertise to restore the model back to its former glory. The customer – a true XJ enthusiast – is already the proud owner of a KWE-restored 1991 XJS, featured on James May and Oz Clark’s BBC series, Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure.

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.

Finished 'better-than-new' XJ12

Finished ‘better-than-new’ XJ12

To view the full extent of our work, and for a look inside our workshop, visit our build gallery.

Restore your classic Jaguar to ‘better-than-new’

If you have a restoration project you’d like to enlist our expertise on, please get in touch. Call us on 01635 30030, follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ our Facebook page.

KWE celebrates 40 years of the Jaguar XJS

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.

(more…)