22.04.18 Stuart Masson

Jaguar Land Rover Classic factory tour


Coventry has seen its fair share of new car production during the past 100 years. But a new production facility opened last year that is building new cars unlike pretty much anything attempted in the area before.

Inside the new Jaguar Classic facility

Inside the new Jaguar Land Rover Classic facility

This is a new Jaguar facility, and one of its roles is to build three of the company’s newest models: the E-Type, the XK SS and the D-Type.If those names sound suspiciously similar to some famous Jaguar models from about 60 years ago, let me explain. Jaguar Land Rover Classics is building limited-run ‘continuation’ vehicles of some its most famous models. The first of these was a run of six lightweight E-Type coupés, followed by nine XK SS roadsters, and just starting production are 25 D-Type racing cars. All are brand new vehicles, but built to exactly the same specifications as the original models from the 1950s and 1960s.

The worksmanship of these models is commensurate with the price tag

The worksmanship of these models is commensurate with the price tag

The continuation projects are quite controversial within the classic car world. Every single part of each vehicle is brand new, with nothing left from the original production runs. There is none of the original tooling and no one involved played any part in the production of the originals. Essentially the only difference between these cars and other replicas is that they are built by Jaguar itself. Well, that and the price tags; the E-Types sold for a million pounds apiece, the XKSS pushed the price up to about £1.5 million and a new D-Type will set you back about £1.8 million.

JLR Classic points out that original D-Types have been changing hands for more than £10 million, so these continuation models are not competing in the same marketplace. In any case, all 40 continuation build slots were sold to hand-picked customers before they were even publicly announced, so Jaguar is not especially concerned by anyone’s disapproval.

Land Rover Series One restorations start at about £65K

Land Rover Series One restorations start at about £65K

Fortunately, the worksmanship is commensurate with the price tag, and in reality much better than the original racing cars that were knocked up in a far more rapid and roughshod manner. The technicians go about their craft in spotless, brightly lit and quiet work bays, with each car taking about three months to build. If you can’t quite stretch into seven figures for a classic Jaguar, JLR Classics has a range of other projects on the go, with Land Rover Series One restorations starting at about £65K and ‘reborn’ Jaguar E-Type Series One models at about £270K.

There’s also a number of work bays dedicated to maintaining XJ220 supercars from the 1990s, and a programme of one-off bespoke vehicles such as Project Dylan, a fully-electric Jaguar E-Type unveiled last year. If you thought the continuation project was divisive, the electric E-Type was originally referred to within Jaguar as Project Marmite…

JLR Classics public factory tours are available from £49, and have proved very popular since the facility opened last June. It’s well worth a visit.