XJS & XJ from KWE Cars
Classic Spirit Reborn

Jaguar XJS: the ‘great grand tourer’

Tony Bray 2

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…)

Suave and sophisticated – that’s the Jaguar XJC

The Jaguar XJ and XJS are widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful luxury saloon and all-round accomplished sports cars ever made. So, it’s no surprise that the team at KWE is always on the look out for challenging new projects to work on.

With our engineering expertise and passion for Jaguar cars, we’re able to offer a high-quality restoration service. Our aim is to restore all of our Jaguar XJS and early XJ saloons cars to a ‘better than new’ standard. (more…)

A Glaswegian grand tour across Europe in an exquisite XJS

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.

Have you completed any particularly interesting journeys in your Jaguar XJS?

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…)

Jaguar XJS: ‘A rare combination of style, substance and speed’

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.

About Doug

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

What’s in your garage?

Doug's V12 XJS

Doug’s V12 XJS

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.

What makes the XJS special to you?

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.

Why did you choose the XJS over other models?

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.

Doug's Jaguar XJS outside hotel at Lake Lugano, Switzerland

Doug’s Jaguar XJS outside hotel at Lake Lugano, Switzerland

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.

What kind of reception do you receive when driving your XJS?

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.

Want an XJS for yourself? Find out more about our full range of services and engineering expertise.

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 AT NEC CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW NOVEMBER 2017