1982 Jaguar XJ-S 5.4 Litre V12 Lynx Eventer Shooting Brake
Life Cycle The high-speed musical life of the Lynx Eventer prototype, featuring Tina Turner, Sir Bob Geldof, Cy Curnin, Howard Jones and a bootful of synthesisers. What began life as a substandard outcast soon became a showpiece, and mobile rehearsal studio to.
Words JOE BREEZE
Photos LAURENS PARSONS/CHRIS KEITH-LUCAS/GUY BLACK/FAY HINE
Show car to mobile rehearsal studio – a Lynx Eventer’s rock ‘n’ roll life
Revealing the life of the Jaguar Tina Turner used to rehearse in
Jan 1982 – Jaguar XJ-S Lynx takes delivery of a class-B XJ-S
‘In the early Eighties we were doing classic car work in the main, restoring C- and D-types and producing replicas, but we weren’t averse to doing jobs on modern cars,’ says Lynx co-founder Chris Keith-Lucas, now of CKL Developments. ‘After converting an XJC to a soft-top we went on to build around 70 XJ-S convertibles, then we got wind of the fact that Jaguar was planning to make something that looked exactly like what we’d been doing. We later discovered they even bought a couple of ours to take apart. It soon became apparent that the company wouldn’t take kindly to us continuing to build ours.
‘We tipped a wink from somebody at Jaguar who said, ‘There’s a market for a Jaguar estate car. If I were you I’d corner it.’ What we didn’t know was that this was an internally contentious issue – a strong groundswell at Jaguar thought they ought to be doing an estate car to rival the BMW tourings. However [CEO John] Egan was just getting into harness at the time and was saying, “No, we manufacture sports cars, not estates – it’s the wrong image for us.” So we were unofficially encouraged from within to see what we could come up with, to prove a point.’
Lynx engaged commercial artist Chris Eastwood, a childhood friend of Lynx’s other co-founder, Guy Black, to produce some initial side-view sketches. ‘He came up with a range of rooflines springing from the natural shape of the car,’ Keith-Lucas continues. ‘One was a clear winner; it looked like something Jaguar might have designed. Impressive, since Chris had no particular car training – at the time he just designed our brochures! But he had a good eye, like Lister and Tojeiro found in Cavendish Morton.
‘We then managed to negotiate with Jaguar to buy a class-B car: one that was brand-new and serviceable, but had an issue that meant it couldn’t be sold directly to the public. This XJ-S had a paint defect – of course that didn’t matter to us because we were going to repaint it anyway. So I set about trying to make a prototype from the sketches, and figuring out what it was going to look like in three dimensions, ensuring it worked from all angles.
‘Of course, we made some mistakes. We thought what a wonderful wheeze it would be to have a sunroof as standard – that’d enable us to join the original front section with the new rear end without having an awkward intersection to lose in the middle. A great idea, but in practice it was a nightmare. We ended up with a roof that looked like a thrupenny bit – a sequence of straight lines rather than one sweeping curve. As a result, 001 is the only Eventer with a sunroof. An extra thickness of filler gave it the necessary double curvature. We were learning!’
With the basic design decided upon, Chris and the Lynx engineers used their ingenuity to source existing parts that could be integrated into the various geometries of their chosen shape. Bootlid hinges came from a Toyota Celica; rear seat hinges were adapted from a Reliant Scimitar’s. And while 001’s rear side windows were produced in Perspex ahead of tooling up for production glazing, the rear window required some resourcefulness. ‘We made a cardboard template of our desired shape and went for a walk around the industrial estate, trying it on all the parked cars. The most unlikely car in the wholecar park had exactly the right width, height and curvature – a Citroën Ami Super Deluxe. The most ungainly looking contraption, but we tilted the glass at a more rakish angle, and the Super Deluxe version was heated, which was just what we wanted!’
Registered in March 1982, Eventer 001 was pressed into service as a development hack, company van, press car, customer demonstrator and marketing klaxon. It was even given a prominent role in the short-lived BBC comedy Sweet Sixteen; protagonist Penelope Keith supposedly wanted one herself.
Keith-Lucas says of this period, ‘We were very conscious of needing to put miles on the car to find out its weak points. On the rudimentary trials we did, which was basically driving it bloody fast on quiet roads, we could get it up to a top speed at least as high as the notchback’s. In fact we probably got rid of some extra turbulence at the rear using that shape.’ Guy Black has one particularly fond recollection. ‘I did many miles in that car, all of which were relatively uneventful, if enjoyable. My greatest memory was us taking it to a Jaguar employees’ open day at Browns Lane in August 1982 and parking it, doors locked, in front of the main entrance. We stood anonymously nearby and listened to all the comments from the Jaguar workers, ‘They kept this secret from us,’ and, ‘At last we’re making something that looks good.’
John Egan was apoplectic and tasked his managers with getting rid of it, but it stayed there all day! We knew then we were onto a winner. They had upset us with the convertible saga. That was our retribution.’
With many of the developmental niggles ironed out, the Eventer’s public debut came ten months later at the October 1983 London Motorfair at Earls Court. Here it would first attract the attention of producer-artist Rupert Hine, who struck up conversation with Chris Keith-Lucas. In a 2019 interview Hine said, ‘I had never been much of a fan of the standard Jaguar XJ-S, and seeing this stunning-looking fastback car, like a sleeker, more aerodynamic take on the Reliant Scimitar, it was hard to believe it was born out of the least beautiful Jaguar sports car. It was final proof, to me, that it was the clumsy buttresses on the rear end of the standard car that let the design down so badly. I can’t remember the showroom price at that time, but I remember thinking I needed to go away and think about it.’
A letter to Lynx dated 21st April 1984 (see upper left of this spread) in 001’s bulging history file reads, ‘Dear Sirs, I have been an admirer of the Eventer XJ-S conversion and would very much appreciate the forwarding, by your good selves, of any relevant details, brochures etc, to the above address. What are the chances of picking one up second hand, and from whom? I believe you have a dealer or two, would they receive a second shot? I look forward to your reply. Yours faithfully, Rupert Hine.’
May 1984 – Rupert Hine pays £17,500 for 001
Hine’s 2019 recollections pick up the story, ‘A few days later, a call from Chris Keith-Lucas let me know that their demo car would be available shortly and, given it had some 20,000 miles on the clock, it could be had for a reduced price. It was the car in all the brochures and PR material. I bought it immediately.’
A lease purchase agreement on file shows the £17,500 sum paid to transfer ownership to Rupert’s Farmhouse studio, with £5500 paid up front and the remaining £12,000, plus interest of £1980, paid over the following 24 months. At this point it reverted to its original registration GJX 850X, having worn Guy Black’s private plate XJ V12 during its time with Lynx (bar the fantasy registration it wore in Sweet Sixteen).
Chris Keith-Lucas recalls delivering 001 personally. ‘I drove it down to his mews house in Bayswater, London. I remember getting a message from him the very next day saying, “Brilliant, I can get my keyboards in that I couldn’t get into the Range Rover!”’ Musician Howard Jones confirms Rupert’s delight, ‘He loved great British cars. He was always having some old classic renovated at huge expense – including his DB5 and C-type – but they weren’t great for carrying studio equipment around! This is why Roop loved the Lynx so much… style, speed and room for a Prophet T8, his favourite synthesiser.’
The aforementioned C-type, a Copycat (now Proteus) replica he bought in 1986, instigated a colour change for the Eventer, which he had resprayed in matching Flag Blue. Rupert continued to use it as his main car throughout the Eighties, during which time it became part of his persona. Howard Jones continues, ‘The first time I saw the Lynx was when Rupert arrived at Farmyard Studios at the start of recording my first album Human’s Lib. I recall thinking, “I know that car but there is something different about it. It seems longer! Oh yes, it’s a Jag XJ-S with a groovy extension.” The Eventer was the perfect car for Mr Hine. Sophisticated, practical, and rare… just like him.’
Cy Curnin of The Fixx has a similar tale, ‘My lasting impression of Roop’s relationship with the Lynx was that it was like all his relationships. Full on. Loving. Probing. Aesthetic. He had a passion for architecture of sound and tactile objects. Any time the car arrived in the early afternoon meant that we’d soon be getting down to business making sweet noises.’
Sir Bob Geldof echoes similar sentiments, ‘Like Rupert, the car had a singular odd outward appearance with an equally odd internal power. Rupert was very clever with an internally combusting musical brain. Rather like pet owners beginning to resemble their pets, so Rupert and the Lynx. He became sleeker, more sophisticated, more powerful and more easily able to take the many steep curves of his life’s rockier roads as time went on. Like the Lynx, this rare type of man becomes more classic and appreciated by the discerning person as he blasts through life all gleaming on the outside powered by a vast internal passionate animus. But while both are classics, let’s face it, both Roop and the car were odd eccentric-looking coves clearly meant for each other.
Geldof continues, ‘I have no interest in cars. Couldn’t care less. I own a decent one. Reliabi is the watchword. I’ll drive it ’til it stops then I’ll get another similar second-hand. Couldn’t care less about scratches, bumps, washing, never mind polishing – why? Cars are for me what the average kitchen cooking hob is for most people who want to boil an egg – practical. You don’t polish a hob! ‘Rupert couldn’t possibly understand this; our otherwise deep friendship faltered upon the deathly word “gasket” – or whatever.
How many times he asked me to leave the studio to look at his bloody car. Of course I couldn’t refuse for fear of ruining the day’s sessions with sulks, so out I would trudge as he launched into some tiresome car-type peroration usually prefaced by “notice anything?” No. “I changed the tyres”. Oh. “Yes it’s difficult these days to find new tyres for the X5 4QV (or whatever) and so...” For ****s sake Rupert shut up about your car, I DON’T CARE!’
Rupert’s manager Geoff Jukes corroborates, ‘My enduring memories of the Eventer are largely along the lines of, “We need to talk about the promo schedule for your album, would you PLEASE stop rabbiting on about your car.” I avoided getting into it because conversations about relevant stuff came to a halt when we sat in the beast, lovely as it was.’ For every collaborator he irritated with Eventer praise, there was one he’d intrigue. Correspondence shows Rupert requesting Lynx brochures for him to forward on to interested parties Peter Gabriel and Chris de Burgh. Tina Turner also came close to placing an order, but the 14-week wait time was too long. Said Rupert, ‘My most memorable journey was driving Tina out to Farmyard Studios, with her learning songs for Private Dancer in the passenger seat singing full tilt. It certainly got my attention – and that of other drivers in traffic!’
In the early Nineties, Rupert bought a French Chateau and built a studio with rooms for artists to stay over. ‘I did many a long-legged journey between Paris and the South of England,’ recalled Rupert in 2019. ‘The Lynx is a wonderful classic tourer.’ Another anecdote recalls the frantic 150mph autobahn dash to deliver instruments and equipment from a gig in Spain to another waiting band in Berlin, the V12 averaging around 5mpg along the way.
Audio engineer Andy Scarth has similar recollections, albeit on British roads. ‘My main memories of the car are all connected with Rupert speeding. Either riding in the back on the M1 heading to the NEC classic car show or coming over the brow of a hill on the old A40 into London at 150mph in the dead of night, only to be greeted by the sight of a distant traffic cop with a radar gun. Emergency braking ensued to reach a reasonable speed before the cop could draw his weapon. When Rupert was pulled over and booked for speeding at 70mph he felt pretty relieved. I also remember how equally sad and proud he was when he found out that he’d managed to blow two of the 12 cylinders.’
In 2000 Rupert moved to the USA, putting 001 into storage near Chantilly; he’d planned to send for her, but never got round to it. In 2008 he met his second-wife- to-be, Fay, but in 2010 he suffered major health issues. The following year, Fay, attempting to curb any unnecessary expenditure during his treatment, asked why they were renting a shipping container in France. ‘Oh, that’s my Eventer,’ he replied.
Fay takes up the story, ‘By this point we were in the UK more often. I thought Roop would find comfort in having his beloved car nearby, so I had her shipped home. She stayed in a barn on a neighbour’s farm for the next few years. At one point we needed to move her from one to another. Rupert was pushing her downhill with the door open but she picked up speed and he had to let her go. Luckily my son Sam saw it unfold and threw a log under the front wheels, stopping the car just before she ended up in a ditch!’
In 2015, with Rupert being treated for cancer, Fay sent 001 to mainland Europe for a secret restoration. At this point it gained the nickname ‘Briar Rose’, the name the Brothers Grimm gave to the protagonist in their version of Sleeping Beauty. ‘Rupert and I were in Wiltshire; I had the keys sent back home to Knutsford for the restorer to collect on a trailer. Ultimately I had to tell Rupert about the restoration to cheer him up; that way I was also able to ask him whether he’d want it repainted in the blue, or put back to silver. But what he didn’t know was that the restoration was to be finished for his 70th birthday in September 2017.
‘Funnily, since it was his birthday and he hadn’t wanted anyone visiting him, Roop had decided on a day of cocooning. So Prince Charming met Briar Rose in his slippers and dressing gown!’
Rupert’s delight was captured in a memo, ‘I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I almost fell over with delight – not shock!!! Although I had the pretty Bristol 401, wacky Riley RMA, beautiful Aston DB5 convertible and C-type replica, the Lynx was my only truly original – as in unique – car. The one I drove every day so enjoyably for almost 20 years was always the idiosyncratic marvel that I love so.’
Rupert sadly passed away in June 2020 but thanks to Fay, he was gifted a final few years with the car that became part of his very identity. Says Bob Geldof, ‘If the car was around he’d offer to drive me home after the day’s work was done, even if it was miles out of his way. Even if we’d done an all-nighter! Just so he could drive this thing. Just so he had the pleasure of sharing it with someone else. I was happy to get the ride but I’d look over at Roop and that vast Hanoverian jutting jaw and carnivorous row of huge teeth, grinning insanely at the pure unadulterated pleasure of roaring down near-empty motorways on a slowly dawning English summer morning. That’s how I choose to remember my mate, a musical genius in his legendary car.’
June 2020 – Fay takes custody of Briar Rose
‘I’ve just about got used to the idea of Briar Rose now being my car. In fact I’ve just bought her a new registration number with my initials, V12 FMH. ‘When Roop said he was going to leave her to me – this was before the restoration – I laughed and said, “In the nicest possible way, why would you want to leave me that pile of junk?!” He said to me, “Because I know you’ll know what to do with her.” So I hope that I’m doing it right. She was invited to the Classic Motor Show in November 2021; three people made offers to buy her. I also had three gentlemen who worked on her back at Lynx seek her out. A lot of the restoration work was disappointing and needs redoing, and who better than the original craftsmen? ‘She’s recently back from Andrew Parkinson of Motor Legends having undergone mechanical and electrical repairs, so now she’s driving beautifully. At some point she will go to Gordon Russell, another of that Lynx team, to undergo body repairs at GB Classics. Rupert’s royalties are currently paying for this work; it’s what he would’ve wanted.
‘Roop said his dream was to take her to events, sit next to her in a deck chair and talk about her. So that’s what I plan to do now. My son has been drawn in too. We took her to the Regents Street Motor Show and I went to get a sandwich; I came back to find him with the bonnet open, showing people around.
‘I think at some point I would like to see her on permanent display somewhere. But we’ll take it as it comes. For now hopefully she and I both have a bit of life left in us, and we can have some fun together.’
Fay still uses the Eventer regularly, just as Rupert did.
The V12 is now in mechanically fine condition. The sentimentality of their bond suggests Fay and Briar Rose have a long future ahead. 001 is easily spotted – it’s the only Eventer with a sunroof After almost 20 years of heavy use, 001 was laid up in a shipping container for over a decade 2021: on display at the NEC in the Pride of Ownership display Quality of the original conversion is evident Transmission-tunnel plaque shows ‘001’.
Rupert fitted an aftermarket steering wheel to match the veneer.
2017: Rupert is delighted to have Briar Rose back home Lynx was able to retain Jaguar badging 2019: back in his happy place, despite his illness.
‘He was equally sad and proud when he found out he’d blown two cylinders’
‘It was hard to believe it was born out of the least beautiful Jaguar’
New rear profile apparently reduced drag, allowing for a higher top speed – which Rupert occasionally tested Mid-1980s: Tina Turner in Rupert’s studio, vocals warmed up en route 2016: poor repairs to 1990 accident damage discovered mid-resto 2015: arrival in mainland Europe for restoration 2015: clean but in need of restoration 1986: resprayed to match C-type.
1984: left, Rupert Hine makes enquiries about second-hand Lynx availability after being smitten at the 1983 Motorfair.
1985: above, the Eventer in holiday mode, swallowing luggage for two plus Rupert’s pet Samoyed, Robin.
February 1982: rear glass from a scrapyard Citroën; note legacy rear window sticker Lynx Eventer 001 had multiple roles during its two years and 20,000 miles with its creators August 1982: scooped in Jaguar Driver 1981/82: rough profile mocked up in cardboard.
1981: artist Chris Eastwood’s original side-profile ideations (left)
1982: Keith-Lucas’ metalwork experiments refined in 3d (above)