In 2005, one of our American clients presented us with an unusual request. Having seen the quality of our craftsmanship and engineering on an XK150 we’d restored for him, he now wanted us to restore a MkII “in true ‘James Bond‘ style” – with elegance, bags of style and luxury – without ruining the spirit of William Lyons’ statuesque, fast and capable original.
Having received his wish list, the first thing for us to do was source a good base original. Clearly, a car sourced in the UK would most likely be right-hand drive. But with our extensive experience giving us a fair idea of where to look, having to source a suitable MkII with left-hand-drive in the States was actually a help rather than a hindrance. So just three months later, we’d found the right car and had it shipped over to our premises ready for work to begin in earnest.
To begin with, a strengthened and modified body shell was acid dipped and formed the car’s skeleton. Into this reinforced shell are grafted such modifications as twin fuel tanks, custom modified ‘XK8’ rear suspension with alloy wishbones, modified front suspension beam (all hung on Penske fully-adjustable coilover shock absorber units) fully adjustable anti-roll bars front and rear and an electric powered steering pump with variable power assisted hydraulic steering rack.
With innovations like these, this majestic-looking Jaguar was beginning to develop highly impressive muscle in all the right places. It will now corner faster as well as more predictably. So the brakes have been up-rated to include large diameter vented discs front and rear with AP racing calipers clamping them, while modified brake master cylinders and Aeroquip hoses complete the braking system.
A Licence to Thrill
Meanwhile, major modifications to the powerplant resulted in a unit that now has a cubic capacity of 4.5 litres. A lightened and balanced steel crankshaft and con-rods, custom made pistons, flywheel and a high capacity oil pump form the basis of the engine internals. And to keep the whole system purring smoothly, an increased capacity alloy radiator is controlled by the cooling department with electrical cooling pump and fans.
Sitting proudly just above the pistons is a fully ported and polished cylinder head complete with enlarged custom-made valves and up-rated springs. This cylinder head now breathes serenely through a custom-built fuel injection system and manifold, while the exhaust gases pass seamlessly through new stainless steel headers and a twin pipe system.
Firing the spark plugs at the heart of the engine is our own electronic ignition system. This and the fuel injection system are fully mappable through a custom-designed ECU, enabling this unique MkII to keep up with forseeable US emission and efficiency laws throughout its lifespan.
And the result of all these innovations? When dyno-tested, the engine produced a spine-tingling 330hp at 6500 rpm and 340 ft/lbs of torque. All this manageable power is fed through an up-rated clutch and our own 5-speed fully synchromesh gearbox through to a carbon fibre prop-shaft.
Suave Refinements Inside and Out
So now the car can perform in true ‘James Bond‘ style it needed the styling and comfort to match. The car now has registration plates (not revolving, sadly…) but it does have a vented bonnet and Coombs-style rear spats, and these compliment the mellow, pale green custom paintwork and 16” diameter competition stainless steel wire wheels.
To access those two fuel tanks, there are twin alloy racing quick release fuel fillers that when opened reveal lockable caps underneath. But with space in the chassis at a premium because of the extra fuel tank (among other things…), we’ve discretely hidden the air conditioning equipment behind the rear seat bulkhead – even though it’s no problem opening the fully electric windows if preferred.
But when it gets particularly chilly outside, the front and rear heated windscreens, together with the heated washers on the rain-sensitive wipers, should cope admirably with anything Jack Frost can throw at it.
There are HID headlamps and hi-intensity fog-lamps, complete with rear headrest-mounted brake lights, plus parking sensors front and rear.
When entering the sumptuous interior, door-mounted LED puddle lights greet you as you slip into the heated and fully-electrically adjustable seats. Once inside the spacious and sporty interior, the traditional looking dashboard is largely as you’d expect to see on an MkII, even though it now houses an iPod, sat nav, Bluetooth and Becker sound system controls – all sitting beautifully amongst the finest lacquered wood veneer and specially sourced buffalo hide leather. The warm tones create a modern and welcoming space to enjoy.
With child safety in mind, we’ve installed child locks and isofix child seat fixings. Another safety feature is the tyre pressure monitors. And in true James Bond style, the radar detection and laser jamming features we were asked to include lend a hint of subterfuge, even though these aren’t illegal in several US states.
However, with all this special gadgetry, keeping them running without draining the car’s battery was an issue. So we built a battery-charging solar panel into the rear parcel shelf. And as with many of the other innovations we’ve introduced to this car, it looks as if it could well have been part of the original MkII.
Finally, should the weather take a turn for the worst upon reaching a destination, you can remove one of the hidden umbrellas from the door pillars so as not to spoil the last part of your journey. And the finishing touch? The owner’s signature has been etched into an aluminium plate at the base of the umbrella handles.
MPH Prestige and Performance Motor Show 2008
All this work has been completed in-house by our technicians – from the powerful yet drivable engine, to the stunning bespoke interior and outstanding exterior. Once again, JD Classics have proved beyond doubt that with the right skills and experience to draw on, the perfect blend of prestige styling and modern motoring is more than possible.
Cars as magnificent as this demand to be noticed. So when Autoglym visited us they liked what they saw so much, they invited us to display the car on their stand at this year’s MPH show at London’s Earls Court exhibition centre, being one of the event’s principle sponsors.
At the event’s Classic Car Zone, the MkII graced the stage. And it attracted many admiring comments – including some from none other than top motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson, of BBC TV’s multi-award winning motoring magazine show, Top Gear. This has led to the show’s producers requesting a visit to Wycke Hill to view the car again and prepare an article for their monthly publication, Top Gear Magazine, Britain’s top-selling car magazine.
However, as much as we or the client love the work we’ve done on this car, we have to acknowledge that it’s not to everyone’s taste. So, the question remains, will the article be positive? We’ll be sure to let you know how the day goes and how the piece turns out!