Sorry for having gotten a bit behind on my Blogging, just having too much fun! Last Wednesday I had booked a tour of the Jaguar Classic facility near Coventry. When Jaguar was purchased from Ford a few years ago by the Tata empire out of India, many of us long time enthusiasts thought “oh no, there goes the brand”. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Jaguar and Land Rover are back and in a big way, with tons of new models and sales rates exceeding any expectations. Tata paid Ford $4 billion for the two companies…..last year alone they netted $4 billion in PROFIT! Not a bad return.
SIR WILLIAM LYONS, FOUNDER OF JAGUAR
Nor has Tata abandoned Jaguar’s heritage, far from it, they have embraced the history and panache that surrounds the brand. The Jaguar Classic facility is proof positive. This magnificent, state of the art workshop and showroom is unsurpassed in scope and quality. Behind the gleaming showroom are 54 fully equipped service bays, all bigger than a typical three car garage and all with tools, equipment and lifts. In addition there are strip down areas, an engine building shop and other specialized locations, in all totaling over 140,000 square feet.
FRONT VIEW OF JAGUAR CLASSICS, NOT NEARLY AS IMPRESSIVE AS THE INSIDE
PART OF THE SHOWROOM FLOOR
On the Jaguar side (yes there is also a Land Rover side offering similar services, but I will get to that later), the space is broken into four distinct functions. There are half a dozen bays dedicated to servicing the super-rare XJ220 supercars. Of the 150 made, there were ten in evidence on the premises getting some work done.
Then there is the “new originals” area where Jaguar technicians are building all new (and I mean ground up all new) continuation cars. In 2015-2016 they built the “missing” six lightweight E-Types (the serial numbers had been allocated in the 60’s but the cars never were completed). Recently they have completed building the nine XKSS cars that were destroyed in a fire at the Brown’s Lane factory in 1957. Eight of the nine were still in the shop being prepared for delivery in the next few weeks (more on #9 below). Once that project is complete, they will start on a series of D-Type race cars (circa 1955). All of the above were sold before production even started, with the D-Types asking price being a cool $2 million. Needless to say, many parts had to be commissioned on new tooling to complete these jobs, resulting in a brisk parts business as these items are now available to the aftermarket.
JAGUAR D TYPE, SOON TO BE MADE NEW
VIEW OF THE CLASSIC SHOP
Next is the “Reborn” wing where currently they are restoring Series 1 E-Types to factory new condition, using “donor” cars they have bought all over the world. These sell for about half a million when completed and they are sold out for the next two years.
Finally the “Bespoke” area where the Classic Center will service, repair or restore your Jaguar to your specifications. The entire shop, and almost 100 technicians are working at capacity.
I mentioned the Land Rover side. Precisely the same thing is going on in another part of the facility with Series 1 “Landies” being rebuilt to better than new. And the icing on the cake is the Ultimate Defender program. They bought up 150 2014-2016 LR Defenders which are now undergoing a V8 engine swap and getting all sorts of goodies and gadgets added. Forget it, they are all sold.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos in the workshops, so many of the images here have been lifted from the website. The showroom shots are mainly mine.
Finished? Not by a mile. A couple years ago Jaguar bought up the huge Hull family car collection of over 500 vehicles, almost all British with lots of Jags. This collection is now housed in it’s own 100,000 sq. ft. building adjacent to the shops where they are stored two high and five deep in two long rows. That’s right, there are 250 drive on lifts in that building! While we got a walk around, most of the cars on the upper level and those in the inner rows are hardly visible. All of them start and run and many are rented out for movie and commercial filming and can even be individually rented for you to drive to your next Ford Anglia Club Meet!
What a great facility and what an inspiration to see Mr. Tata put his money behind insuring Jaguar’s heritage lives on.
SPOTTED ALONG THE WAY, WANT TO BUY A MINI? THIS GUY HAD A COUPLE DOZEN
Following the Classics Tour, I had a couple of hours to kill before the Jaguar Driver’s Club’s monthly meet up. So, I ventured into Coventry to look around. I knew Coventry is home to the National Motor Museum, but frankly I was “motored” out, so instead I decided to check out Coventry Cathedral.
COVENTRY CATHEDRAL RUINS
THE REQUIRED STOP AT AN OLD PUB JUST ACROSS FROM THE CATHEDRAL. LUCKILY IT ESCAPED THE BOMBING
What drew my interest is officially the 2nd Cathedral built in the 1400s (the original dates from 1050) which was nearly totally destroyed by the German Luftwaffe in November 1940. The remaining walls and spires were intentionally not rebuilt as a reminder of the horrors of war. A new Cathedral stands nearby but is a modern structure of no great interest.
After a brief visit I moved on out into the countryside to meet up the JDC group at XK Engineering, a large restoration facility specializing in Jaguar, but renowned for their painting prowess. Cars come from all over the world to be painted and restored here, many of them for paint only. Jags, Aston Martins, Ferraris and even a couple of VWs were in evidence. The star of the show however was the 9th XKSS mentioned above, fully stripped and awaiting a repaint.
A brand-new car being repainted? Well it seems that Jaguar Classic has a few rules when it comes to the continuation and reborn cars they do. You can get it in any color you want, as long as it was an original color offered in the year your car was built! So, you get in queue, pay your $2 million, and then they tell YOU what color your car will be! XKSS cars only came in BRG, black and red (actually only one was ever painted red). The guy who bought #9 didn’t want any of these, so as soon as he picked up his car (which has originally been painted at XK Engineering), he sent it back to them for a respray. A zero-mile car with two paint jobs. I guess if you have 2 mil for a car, you can scratch up another $100k to have it torn apart and repainted. No word on what color it will be nor were we allowed to take photos of it for fear that Jaguar Classic would see the pix on social media and not be happy campers.
Anyway, there was a great turnout of about 80 for the event and I met a lot of new friends. As the day had been rainy to start, I drove the Vauxhall, much to the consternation of most who showed up in one sort of Jag or another (after the skies cleared of course). There was a 150 like mine in pristine condition and it was an “S” spec car, good for $250k. I give the guy kudos for driving it in dicey weather.
An hour’s drive home in the dark (glad I had the Vauxhall with a real LED headlights, heater and nav). All’s well that ends well.
Today’s food news!