XJS & XJ from KWE Cars
Classic Spirit Reborn

KWE Cars Blog - Page 1

Why you need to have your aircon working all the time

We have written a short article on the importance of fuel cooling and the infamous V12 hot start problem here

Car of the Month: Fully Restored Genuine TWR 6.0 XJR-S

Once again we’ve had the pleasure of having Paul Walton of Jaguar World Magazine come to our facilities in Thatcham to test drive one of our latest Jaguar restorations. With the help of Alan, the owner of this awe inspiring machine, Paul has summed up the final product pretty well in the following article that was published in the November 18 issue of Jaguar World. We’re thankful to Alan for giving us the opportunity to restore his beloved XJR-S and wish him many happy adventures in what is now a ‘perfect’ or should I say Purrrfect JaguarSport TWR.

A thorough restoration by model specialist KWE has resulted in one of the best examples out there.”

Perfect is an overly used word these days. When a waiter asks how our food is, we sometimes answer, “Perfect,” even if it’s not quite there. And when I go on holiday I’ll probably later describe it as perfect, despite it raining for two weeks and there being a dead rat in the pool. There is something that genuinely deserves the accolade, though, and that’s Alan Richell’s XJR-S. A thorough restoration by model specialist KWE has resulted in one of the best examples out there. From the flawless paint to the spotless alloys, and the immaculate interior to the pristine engine bay, it is… erm… perfect.

Alan, though, wasn’t looking to create perfection when he bought the car. As a Jaguar enthusiast who already owned a rare X100 XKR Carbon Fibre and a limited edition X50 XK Dynamic R, he had been an admirer of the XJ-S for many years and decided in 2016 that it was time to add one to his collection.

He was originally looking for a late post-facelift model from the mid-Nineties, but a 1990 XJR-S advertised in the JEC’s magazine piqued his interest. Not only was it a genuine JaguarSport example that had been produced at TWR’s Kidlington facility, but also the car had been fitted with TWR’s own 6.0-litre V12 – the extra 648cc over the 5.3 obtained from a long-stroke crankshaft, 78.5mm instead of 70mm. Since this was an expensive option (in 1991, the XJR-S 6.0 cost £45,500) only a handful were ordered after it was introduced in August 1989. It’s thought just 682 were built before the introduction of Jaguar’s own 6.0 for the standard XJS killed the model. So, it made a perfect companion for Alan’s other rare Jaguars, and continued his mantra of ‘classics with a twist’. Says Alan, “I called the owner who had kept the car for 18 years and who was the most careful, fastidious man. Every receipt and piece of paper associated with the car was available and, once on the hook, I was an easy fish to reel in. A visit, a short test drive and the deal was done.”

Thanks to the fastidiousness of the previous owner, the car was in reasonably good condition. “I drove it back from Kent to my home in Gloucestershire in the very worst weather and traffic that the M25 could throw at us. Yet it never missed a beat and became easy to fall in love with.”

But, wanting to make sure his new purchase was as good as he thought it was, less than a year after buying the car, Alan took it to model specialist KWE. “It advertises a condition-assessment service, which I booked. These are written up as a red, amber and green sequence of findings, with red being urgent and important, amber useful and green more of a wish list. While there were no actual red items listed – which is very comforting having, in the end, bought the car in good faith – there were several areas of rust that needed sorting.”

“the thing which got put back together was much more than the thing that got taken apart.”

– Alan Richell, XJR-S Owner

That was the start of a year-long and very comprehensive restoration that touched every aspect of the car. “In the end, it became clear that it was preferable to do everything while the car was in as many bits as it could possibly be,” Alan says, “so that the thing which got put back together was much more than the thing that got taken apart.”

The car was soon stripped and the engine rebuilt. Says KWE’s Chris Knowles, “With 80,000 miles, it was a bit rough around the edges. It was under what we recommend for full rebuild, but even though only initially wanting a service, Alan decided to go ahead with one.” KWE fitted larger throttle bodies and Omex’s digital engine management system, the benefits of which Alan remembered reading about somewhere.


All issues with the body were repaired, although, says Chris, the car was in reasonably good condition. “It had the usual areas, but nothing very important.” The worst parts were the shock absorber mounts, which were repaired before everything was protected with underseal.

The car then received KWE’s full suspension package that consists of new springs, bushes and adjustable dampers made by British company Avo, to Chris’ specification. Alan also asked for one of KWE’s newly developed sports exhausts to be added.

“We worked with BTB Exhausts in Northamptonshire,” says Chris “to produce something that is bigger than standard, has less restrictions through the silencers, and has a better thought-out point of where the two branches of the V of the engine join up; the further back you can get them to join up the better it is; you get better flow through from one bank sucking the gas out the other bank.”

The car was still being run-in when tested earlier this year, so it wasn’t possible to get an exact power output, but Chris has the same system fitted to his XJ-S V12 and reckons it produces another 40 percent torque at 1,500rpm.

Although his XJR-S was originally in Arctic Blue, after Alan saw KWE’s newly restored XJ-S V12 convertible [see JW, February 2018, p44] at the 2017 NEC Classic Motor Show, which had been resprayed in the slightly darker Crystal Blue from the X150 XK, he wanted the same. The XJR-S’ original Speedline alloys were refurbished and shod with four Falken Ziex tyres.

Like the exterior, the interior was in reasonable shape. New burr walnut veneer for the fascia and ‘ski jump’ around the gearlever were renewed, along with replacement door cards, but the original leather on the seats was deemed good enough to be kept and repainted in original magnolia. Alan then specified new blue carpets with the woven-in JaguarSport logo at the footwell.

Add in a new DAB radio, rear parking sensors and an LED bulb conversion using the original headlights and this very thorough recommission resulted in a unique vehicle.

“H109 GHK is a faithful representation of the original car,” says Alan, “just enhanced to make sure it has a long-term future and is now even more a ‘classic with a twist!’”

It took almost a year to complete, and the restoration wasn’t cheap. I won’t embarrass Alan by revealing the final figure, but it outweighed the current value of the car. Yet Alan never set out to spend so much. “Each step was a considered investment on its own, and the eventual total only arose because it was the sum of its gradually accruing parts.” He admits, “and the fact it took 11 months to complete the job was a good thing.”

Yet, more than pleased by the final result, Alan is unrepentant of the cost. “I need a machine that is reliable and safe for an owner like me to enjoy and look after. Importantly, all the effort is rewarded every time I get behind the wheel.”

It is an unseasonably warm October morning when I visit KWE’s Thatcham-based workshop to view the car. It’s already parked outside, and the sun lights up the XJR-S’ rich, new paintwork to make it luminescent.

The large rear wing, deeper chin spoiler and side skirts of the XJR-S’ body kit lend the car a muscular appearance so it will stand out from the many standard cars; a bit like Usain Bolt alongside mere mortals like you and me. Even though the car has been finished for six months, it remains free from any imperfections and is easily the best-looking XJ-S I’ve seen.

It’s the same story inside. The veneer on the fascia shines like a mirror, while the repainted – but still original – magnolia leather on the seats looks like it’s brand new rather than close to 30 years old. I’m not totally convinced by Alan’s replacement bright-blue carpets, feeling they detract from the XJ-S’ old-fashioned charm but, like everything else with this car, they are finished to a high standard.

It takes a second after twisting the key for that huge V12 to churn into life, but it sounds smooth and refined. The threespeed ’box slots down smoothly into drive and, after gripping the leather-wrapped TWR four-spoke steering wheel, I slowly squeeze the throttle pedal.

“The steering is sports car precise, with just enough resistance to transform turning into corners to be something to savour.”

The resultant acceleration isn’t as hard as I’d imagine from a 6.0 V12 that when new had 318bhp, lacking the urgency of Jaguar’s later V8 models, but, thanks to the KWE exhaust, it does offer a little more grunt than the final XJS I drove in the November 2018 issue that has Jaguar’s own 6.0. The Omex digital management system keeps the engine running like clockwork and no matter how hard or soft I press the throttle; the power delivery is consistent and unsurprising.

Thanks to a thorough service during the restoration, the three-speed GM gearbox is smooth and fast, and stepping hard on the accelerator results in the ’box instantly kicking down, unleashing more of the car’s phenomenal torque.

However, that’s not the only joy of this car – there is the way the big GT handles. Thanks to the XJR-S’ stiffened dampers compared to the standard model, corners can be taken with a confidence often missing from most XJ-Ss that are baggier than an old couch, yet following KWE’s suspension upgrades there’s still enough suppleness to avoid any banging and crashing over road imperfections. The steering is sports car precise, with just enough resistance to transform turning into corners to be something to savour.

Some might question the sense in investing so much money into a car that’s worth £25k-£30k, but money was never the point of the project. Alan wanted an XJR-S he could use now, while preserving it for the future. Thanks to its usual eye for details plus a series of sensible modifications, KWE has achieved that goal… perfectly. PW

Words & Photography by: Paul Walton, Editor of Jaguar World Magazine

Insta: @jag.world

Client Review: KWE Suspension Upgrade – XJ-S Convertible V12

We love a good review here at KWE, it’s very encouraging to know we are doing right by these wonderful cars and their owners. This is a recent review from a new customer that decided he wanted to upgrade the handling, ride and all round reliability of his XJ-S Convertible. This work included our full suspension/brakes and steering package, V12 perishable engine service, AC revamp, new convertible hood and also taking care of it’s underside rust and bodywork imperfections, plus other minor issues that needed addressing.

Here’s what David had to say:

“First – thank you for the very professional job that KWE have done on my XJ-S. I feel much more confident about driving it (and stopping it!) after the suspension and braking upgrades.
Similarly I am very happy with all the remedial work you did to the sub-frame which was clearly in rather poor condition judging from the photos you sent me.

Now for the really important bit – the drive experience itself. To be perfectly frank, on the initial drive back to London, I thought – ok, this is an improvement on what went before, but didn’t get the ‘big cat grin’ that maybe I had been expecting.

However, later that week I drove from London to our house in Perthshire – a distance of 450 miles, and there I really began to appreciate the remarkable difference the work had made.

First, on the motorway – I drove up the A1 – the car was much tighter, the suspension firm but supportive and with very little if any ‘shake’. Overtaking was a pleasure and the car cruised effortlessly at 80mph.

However the real joy was leaving the A1 after Scotch Corner and taking the A68 up through the Kielder National Park, and then through the Scottish Borders – Jedburgh etc and around Edinburgh. Here the improvement in handling was very evident – tight around the corners, no scuttle shake and almost light into and out of the bends – for such a big car. Yet the steering remains responsive and you can ‘feel’ the car unlike modern power steering which gives the driver no connection to the road.

The car was greatly admired when I stopped at a petrol station in Jedburgh as it was looking in tip top condition so well done to KWE.

Next up – the upgraded exhaust as we discussed so I’ll be in touch in the New Year to arrange to bring it in!

With very best wishes”

Thank you David for giving KWE the opportunity to upgrade your XJ-S and providing your wonderful review, we look forward to seeing you again.

Insurance for cars in our care

Due to the limitations of Insurers in their willingness to pay out, we have to point out that cars on our premises and in our care are covered only to the level of what insurers call ‘Market Value’. This is a vague term open to different interpretations but is usually significantly less than what the owner feels their car is worth. Please read our short article here.


We would be very interested to hear – and share – your views, good or bad, about classic car insurers. Our clients want to be able to insure their restored cars for what it cost them and this baffles many insurers who go running for the ‘book’ and try to fob us off with ‘book’ value for insurance. Some insurers are more enlightened and we’d be grateful to hear your experiences. Please put any comments in the box below, and we will select the most useful answers and share them here. Thanks in anticipation.

Jaguar creates unique ‘Greatest Hits’ XJ6 for Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrains

  • Jaguar’s 50 years of XJ celebrations begin with bespoke Jaguar Classic commission for Iron Maiden drummer and life-long Jaguar enthusiast ‘Nicko’
  • Nicko’s classic 1984 XJ6 Series 3 features a host of custom touches inspired by all five decades of Jaguar XJ production, and McBrain’s heavy metal heritage
  • ‘Greatest Hits’ XJ is a collaboration between Nicko, the expert engineers and craftsmen at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works and Jaguar Design studio director Wayne Burgess
  • Bespoke XJ unveiled at Geneva International Motor Show on 6 March during the Jaguar Land Rover press conference

Today at the Geneva Motor Show Jaguar Classic is proud to present Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain’s custom-built ‘Greatest Hits’ Jaguar XJ6, kicking-off Jaguar’s XJ 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018.

The bespoke commission is a collaboration between Nicko, the expert engineers and craftsmen at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, and Jaguar Design studio director Wayne Burgess. The project involved more than 3500 man hours of work, with more than 4000 parts refinished, replaced or redesigned. Unlike any 1984 XJ6 before, it incorporates substantial modifications to the exterior, interior, drivetrain and suspension, resulting in Nicko’s dream XJ.

“This is my ultimate XJ – my third, and lovingly named ‘Johnny 3’. It has been a true labour of love between Jaguar Classic and myself. I’m so excited by its completion and especially to be showing it at Geneva – it really is a Greatest Hits edition and to me it defines what the Jaguar XJ is all about. It’s a credit to the craftsmanship of the Jaguar Classic team. We couldn’t have timed it better, this being the 50th anniversary of XJ – my favourite of all Jaguars.”



Key features include:

  • Unique front and rear bumpers – seamlessly blended in to the modified fenders with bespoke chrome brightwork and flush-fit US side markers
  • Flared and re-profiled front and rear wheel arches accommodating bespoke 18-inch wire wheels fitted with 235/45 R18 Pirelli P Zero tyres
  • Unique sills and modified rear door pressings
  • Uprated front and rear suspension with adjustable rear dampers
  • Unique Mauve paint finish
  • Conversion to elegant Series 2 XJ door handles and bullet wing mirrors
  • Conversion to LED headlights with ‘Halo’ daytime running light signature
  • Conversion to recessed twin fuel fillers
  • Modern door sealing for reduced wind noise, and additional sound deadening
  • Integrated touch screen operating satnav, phone, rear view camera and in-car entertainment
  • Re-trimmed interior with modified seat foams improving refinement
  • Bespoke audio system with USB connectivity, featuring guitar amplifier-inspired control knobs machined from aluminium
  • In-dash starter button
  • Uprated air-conditioning
  • Remote central locking

“Creating this ‘Greatest Hits’ XJ, and the whole process of bringing someone’s automotive dream to life, has been extraordinarily rewarding for the Jaguar Classic team. It’s been a pleasure to work with Nicko and we’re looking forward to hearing the reaction to this project.”



Inside, classic Jaguar style meets modern day convenience. The leather seats are hand trimmed in Pimento Red with black piping and embossed head rests, while a black hand-crafted carpet and Alcantara headlining finishes off the trim. The dashboard features Dark Grey stained Sycamore veneers – the preferred material for Nicko’s favourite snare drums.

Further nods to the owner’s art include machined aluminium rotary controls on the dashboard – inspired by the control knobs of the guitar amplifiers created by Nicko’s great friend Jim Marshall, and drum kit inspired pedals finished in chrome and black. The custom three-spoke sports steering wheel features Nicko’s unique mascot – the ‘Eddie Growler’, first seen on his specially commissioned 2013 Jaguar XKR-S.

Bespoke soft down lighting illuminates the revised dashboard, in which a state-of-the-art Alpine touch screen controls the 1100W sound system, powering speakers from Nicko’s preferred Jaguar audio installation, the 12MY Jaguar XF.

Incorporating a number of reconditioned parts from McBrain’s original XJ6, the 4.2-litre in-line six-cylinder engine features three 2-inch SU carburettors from the E-type – Nicko’s favourite set up. Machined quad-exhaust tail pipes finish-off a specially-designed exhaust system.

Preserved components from Nicko’s first XJ6, which spent many years stood in the grounds of the home of Iron Maiden bass guitarist Steve Harris, following Nicko’s move to America, are present elsewhere in the build too: from the iconic Jaguar leaper bonnet mascot, which first attracted Nicko to buy the car, to the original ignition keys from 1984.

Jaguar XJ-SC: A cabriolet fit for a princess

A notable Jaguar XJ-S V12 Cabriolet with royal connections will be one of a record number of stunning retro cars from the halcyon heydays of motoring appearing at this weekend’s London Classic Car Show at Excel London (15-18 February).

While many of the 700+ wonderful automotive icons on display will have their own incredible histories, few if any will have better stories to tell than this totally one-off 150mph Jaguar – a sportscar which was fashioned especially for Diana, Princess of Wales.

Princess Diana's Jaguar XJSC

The model first being released in 1983, this famous 1987 XJ-SC was not only one of the most photographed cars of its era but was also totally unique, built to the Princess’ own bespoke specification.

The V12 powered regal cabriolet features 2 rear seats and an individually made, permanently fixed, rear hard top to ensure that the two Princes could not strike their heads on the solid targa roof bar in the event of an accident.

Also, unlike any other XJS, the once royal roadster is fitted with personalised leather and Harris Tweed seat trims, chosen by Princess Diana. What’s more the exterior bodywork came with the US spec quad highlights and was finished in British Racing Green to match the Aston Martin that husband Prince Charles had acquired around the same time.


The Princess was regularly seen driving this majestic model from 1987 to 1991. Her and Sarah, the Duchess of York who also owned an XJS V12, except a convertible model would often enjoy driving their Jaguars together. Sarah’s car was later restored by KWE in 2007. Then, when the two Princes outgrew their small rear seats, Diana sold it to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, an educational charity established to preserve the legacy of Jaguar for the nation, in exchange for a contribution to one of her own charitable causes.

A little history on Jaguars XJ-SC

First came the coupe (1975), then the cabriolet (1983), and finally the convertible (1988). The XJS was not ready to have the top removed entirely, since omitting the roof would tend to make the XJ6-based monocoque sag in the middle. A great deal of engineering work and a lot of time was needed to produce an open car, even one with some of the roof in place. The compromise arrangement recalled the roof bracing of the late Triumph stag. The framework was kept in place but there were removable close-fitting panels, resulting in a pleasantly proportioned car from which Malcolm Sayer’s well-intentioned, but controversial “flying buttresses” were eliminated.

More significantly the XJ-S was available for the first time with a 6-cylinder engine, the AJ6 being tried out first in a low production volume model where its weaknesses would be exposed, but not to too many customers. It was a sensible move which breathed a new life into the model. The delightfully smooth and perfectly adequate 3.6 was offered on the cabriolet with the option of a 5 speed Getrag manual gearbox. Although, the 12-cylinder XJS was still a popular choice.

In 1985, Jaguar released the 5.3 V12 Cabriolet. This model had the option of rear seats, whereas the earlier model had a storage box, much like the early convertibles which were released later in 1988.

Sales of the XJ-S were on the turn. Improved reliability was the principal reason for an increase to 4,808 cars in 1983 and 6,028 in 1984. In 1985 sales received a boost with the V12 Cabriolet for which the production process was streamlined, and the HE badge was dropped in favour of a “V12”. When Jaguar released the fully convertible electric soft top, the cabriolet was discontinued after a production run of 5,013 cars.

KWE completes restoration on XJ-SC: Customers cabriolet has full treatment

Here we have our most recent restoration, a fully restored XJ-SC finished in Solent blue with luxurious magnolia leather and burr walnut trim. Click here to view the full write up and images in our showcase.

If you would like your own XJS built to your bespoke specification, please contact us to discuss our restoration services.


We also currently have a very original 4-seater 1988 XJ-SC Cabriolet with 25000-miles for sale, click here to see the full listing and images.