How not to customise a Jaguar

There are two types of people. There are those who accept the way the world is. They revel in its beauty and brilliance. They look at life and all it contains and they say ‘It’s flawed, it’s varied, but it is good.’ 

Then there are those who don’t accept the way the world is. They look out the window and see a place that is broken, that needs bettered, that needs improved. 

For the world to keep spinning, for medicine to advance, for society to improve, we need both types of people, those who want to push on and those who ask why. 

In the world of classic cars we don’t need both. We don’t need the pusher-oners, the it-can-be-betterers. These are the people who look at what an army of engineers and designers has produced over thousand of hours and with millions of pounds and they say, y’know what, I can actually do better.  

The trouble is that of course in far too many cars they might be right. Might be right, that is, if they also had money, tools and skill. After all, anyone considering the Allegro or TR7 who doesn’t imagine a way to make it better is perhaps just a little too blaze. 

If you do have a penchant for fiddling and changing and improving your starting point should probably not be a Jaguar. The Coventry firm has offered the occasional dud but it is responsible for more of the greatest designs of the last 50 years than any other manufacturer. 

So here, as a lesson to would-be modifiers, is a catalogue of the worst Coventry Cat customisations. Read and weep. 

1. E Type ‘cat’ 

Strictly speaking this monstrosity hasn’t actually been modified. The bodywork is standard. But that’s where the good news ends. You might imagine that once the tongue had been painted on that the owner would say ‘enough.’ But he (or she) didn’t. This is the motoring equivalent of one of those ‘Indian Art’ T-Shirts. Awful. 

2. Avon Jaguar XJ Estate

Avon has produced some quite effective conversions. This isn’t one of them. Caught somewhere between a hearse and an estate car, the XJ estate is the answer to a question that nobody dreamed of asking. For some reason Avon elected to lengthen the XJ during the conversion, a decision which only makes the end result worse. 

3. E Type V8

Possession is nine tenth of the law. And it’s true, if you own it then it’s yours to do as you wish. But the owner of this Series 1 E Type was surely possessed. The inventor of fibreglass has a lot to answer for here, but it’s the fitment of a Ford V8 and the bonnet leaper with eyes that light up that truly offend. 

4. S-Type Estate 

It’s not just enthusiastic amateurs who over reach themselves, of course. Car companies have a long history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. While this bizarre factory designed S-Type estate never reached production, Jaguar did still persevere long enough to create a working prototype. Perhaps worst of all it looks like an estate but doesn’t have a hatch back. 

5. E Type Hearse

This car, well known in Jaguar circles, does have the defence of being quite amusing. The trouble is that a Jaguar E Type died in the process of creating this homage to the art of vinyl roofing. And you’d have to be short and thin to take advantage of it for your trip into the afterlife. Only in America etc. 

6. Bob The XJS 

There is a thin line between genius and stupidity. Somewhere on that line lies humour. Presumably the owner of this terrible Bob The Builder homage felt he was quite firmly tweaking the funny bone with this. I may be in a club of one here but for me, this is neither funny, inspired or genius. It’s stupid. It’s pointless. It isn’t even very good. 

7. Jaguar XJC (for caravan)

There was probably some logic to this. Some, but not much. Take one surplus caravan body and one scrap XJ and recycle. The trouble is that the end result (whenever the owner decides to reach it) is neither a car or a caravan. It’s a compromise – a top heavy vanette powered by a 4 litre car. It can never end well. 

8. E Type Widebody 

It is, in truth, very hard to work out what is going on here. And why. It’s a desirable series 1 E Type with massive, and I really mean massive, rear wheels. If it was a drag car I might follow the logic. But it isn’t. It’s just a lot of time spent making something silly, pointless and very ugly. 

9. XJ Big Truck

Jaguar has apparently been pondering a 4×4 for a while. No need to bother chaps, job done. Here is a Jaguar XJ / Ford F-150 marriage. All the luxury of a Jag with the go-anywhere off-road ability of a Ford truck. As with so many customs this probably took a long time. Which is perhaps the most painful part of the story. 

10. XK Foxbat

Most people, faced with the dilemma of owning more pets and/or children than their car can accommodate, do the obvious thing and buy something else. Others, particularly those with too much money and/or a spare Morris Minor Traveller in the garage, choose to modify their existing car. So it was with the Foxbat, created to solve the problem of how to fit a dog into a XK Jaguar. I will admit that until it was pointed out to me that the back end is pure Morris Traveller I sort of liked it. Now all I can see is the love child of a a morris and a Jaguar. And it isn’t pretty.


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