Classic car paradise: tour Jaguar Land Rover's new facility
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Welcome to Jaguar Land Rover Classic's new headquarters in the UK - a Willy Wonka-style factory for car enthusiasts.
This is where iconic models, such as the Le Mans winning Jaguar D-Types from the late 1960s, XJ220 supercars from the 1990s, and Series 1 Land Rovers from almost 70 years ago, will be restored and serviced by highly skilled technicians.
It's also where a crack team of vintage-car builders will create small batches of reborn models like the XKSS and E-Type.
The new site in Coventry - which cost £7 million (NZ$12.3 million) to create - is officially the world's largest classic car sales, manufacturing and restoration facility of its kind, the British manufacturer said.
Doors to the new site swung open for the first time today - come with us on a tour of the building where millions of pounds worth of iconic cars are being stored, restored, serviced and built.
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr. Ralf Speth and Special Operations Managing Director John Edwards unveiled the new premises - named Classic Works - on Wednesday afternoon.
It's one of two new locations being opened, the second being a new facility in Essen, Germany.
The new sites are confirmation of the brand's rapid global expansion over the last 12 months.
The Jaguar Land Rover Classic department was only created as a subsidiary to the car-making business in March 2016, but the unveiling of reborn models like the XKSS and E-Type Jaguar, as well as first-generation Land Rover Series 1 models and three-door Series 1 Range Rovers have seen it receive coverage around the world.
The new 14,000 square metre site has a dedicated showroom area with displays of millions of pounds worth of cars through the ages and 54 separate workshop bays for mechanics to restore and service model that have been out of production for at least a decade.
The workshop also has dedicated strip-down, remanufacturing and assembly zones for the Land Rover Series I, Range Rover Classic and Jaguar E-type Reborn restoration programmes, as well as an engine shop and production line for the recreated XKSS line consisting of nine cars worth over £1million each.
At any given time, the new facility will hold more than 500 'Classic Collection' vehicles retained by the brand.
That makes it a dreamland for classic car fans, especially those whose idea of heaven is an pristine old Jaguar or period-correct Series 1 Land Rover.
Jaguar Land Rover Classic referred to it as a 'living assembly of British motoring history, which is an invaluable reference for restoration.
That collection consists of models ranging from the 1955 Mk1 Jaguar though to the C-X75 hypercar used in the James Bond Spectre film in and the latest F-Type Project 7.
All the vehicles in the collection are available for loan to car clubs and museums, and for the manufacturer and its partners to showcase their heritage at events.
Speaking at the grand opening, Edwards said: 'Classic Works is hugely important to Jaguar Land Rover. It’s much more than a building – it’s the heart, and soul, of Jaguar Land Rover Classic for our clients worldwide.
'Being able to support owners and enthusiasts of our two great brands with a full suite of services for classic vehicles is a fantastic opportunity.'
The British manufacturer - which is owned by Indian firm Tata - said it now has more than 80 highly skilled staff employed at the Classic Works centre, though it expects this to grow to more than 120 specialists by the end of the year.
Technicians will not only use authentic manufacturing methods but will also have access to the manufacturer's cutting-edge technology, such as 3D scanning and Computer Aided Design, which allows the re-tooling and reintroduction of parts such as Jaguar E-type and Range Rover Classic panels.
These are parts that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive to re-manufacture.
Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director, Tim Hannig, said: ‘Our people, their knowledge and their skills are the heart of Jaguar Land Rover Classic.
'There are more than 1.5 million classic Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in existence worldwide, and we are investing in traditional manufacturing and restoration skills to ensure enthusiasts are able to give cars with a glorious past, a glorious future.'
Guided tours of the new facility will be available from September, giving the public the chance to see these historic cars in the flesh and highly-skilled mechanics working on invaluable motors.
Some of the cars being built at the premises will be available to purchase, too - though you'll need a bumper bank balance to afford them - and owners of models that have been out of production for 10 years or longer can have their vehicle serviced by the specialist department.
And even if you can't afford one of the legendary vehicles on display, there will be the opportunity to drive them with a 'Classic Drives' experience held at the MIRA vehicle-development facility near Nuneaton in Warwickshire and Eastnor Castle near Worcester where Land Rover already has an experience centre.
To celebrate this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hour race - the 85th instalment of the endurance event and one that's been won by Jaguar on seven occasions over five decades - the Classic Works opening featured victorious C-Type, D-Type and XJR-9 models taken from the British Motor Museum in Gaydon.
Later this summer, five D-types - including a number of the 1957 Le Mans cars and the 1956 example displayed at Classic Works - will travel in convoy from the new £7million facility and will visit the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace on 1 to 3 September and will stop off at Silverstone and the home facility of the Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team.
- Rob Hull, Daily Mail