Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

A Cotswold-based classic car specialist, Thornley Kelham, has revealed a reimagined version of the Jaguar XK 120 coupe. Called the XK European, the programme takes a derelict donor car as its base with customers able to personally specify their car.


Thornley’s car features a new, all-alloy lightweight body penned by McLaren P1 designer, Paul Howse, that echoes the kind of work applied to the E-type Lightweight. It features a lowered roofline and wider arches and at the rear the tail now sweeps up to create a more teardrop form.


Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

Inside, a completely redesigned dashboard and interior echo the original, but modernised and improved wherever possible. The dials are kept in a similar layout but are surrounded by a body-coloured aluminium dashboard rather than traditional walnut.

KEEP THE WONDER OF THE ORIGINAL, BUT WITH A MODERN DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Electric windows are added, as are electronic gauges and a discreet roll cage, while air-conditioning, power steering and Bluetooth connectivity allowing any number of in-car entertainment options. The 3.8-litre straight-six engine will be thoroughly re-engineered complete with direct injection, a bespoke camshaft and rebored cylinders for either 300bhp or 340bhp. There’s also an upgraded aluminium radiator with an oil cooler, plus louvres in the bonnet and subtly redesigned side vents. Power is then delivered through a modern five-speed manual transmission.


Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

The handling will be enhanced with double wishbones at the front, coilovers comprising tuned Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs. The axle incorporates a limited-slip differential while four-piston vented disc brakes on each wheel will stop the car.


Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

Said Simon Thornley, co-founder of Thornley Kelham, “The Jaguar XK European is, to our eyes, the most beautiful car yet in the restomod sector, backed up with expertise and experience in developing cars that aren’t just perfect in their finish, but thrilling to own and drive.”


Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

Development of the first Jaguar XK built to ‘European’ specification is already underway, with the first commission secured. Numbers will be strictly limited, with prices from £550,000 plus donor car depending on specification.


Restomod by Thornley Kelham Jaguar XK120 Coupe revealed

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Richard Bremner Richard Bremner 1 month ago #

Old Jaguars have been the objects of recreation, reimagining and updating long before the fashionable world of restomodding emerged. Jaguar C-, D- and E-types have been recreated and upgraded over the decades by companies like Eagle, Lynx, Proteus and others, while the shapely Mk 2 saloon has been reworked by Vicarage and Beacham.

The XK 120, on the other hand, has rarely been the target of a remake despite its obvious beauty and legendary role not only in the evolution of Jaguar but the wider car industry. One reason for that is its cockpit, which is more grotto than generously dimensioned well for human occupation. It’s why a Dutch engineering company once performed a wheelbase and track stretch on an XK 120.

Another way to enlarge the cabin is to completely rework the car, as high-end restorers Thornley Kelham is doing with its Jaguar XK European.

Besides restoring classics to major award winning standards, this Cotswold company has recently launched a highly modified Lancia Aurelia B20 GT called the Outlaw, a nine strong, £400,000 apiece limited edition run that takes 5,000 hours to build. Which gives you an idea of the extent of the work involved. Yet £400,000 will not be enough to buy you their XK, which starts at £550,000. That number will doubtless trigger a couple of thoughts: first, that’s a good five times what you’d pay for one of the best XK 120s out there. And second, you can buy some spectacular new cars for that money. But how often does cold, hard logic dominate the thought processes of car enthusiasts buying cars? Not so often. If you happen to be flush enough to consider buying cars costing six- and seven-figure sums, then this Jaguar might well appeal. Thornley Kelham thinks it can find 25 such enthusiasts.

Much of the XK’s remodeling has been carried out by ex-McLaren Cars designer, Paul Howse, who has aimed for a “more muscular, more assertive” look that he reckons might have emerged from a “Jaguar skunkworks” exercise. Major changes include a lowered roofline, more curvature for the XK 120’s originally rather flat flanks, wider wings for wider wheels and a subtle tidying of the basic shape. Achieving this has meant the creation of an entirely new aluminium shell for the chassis, this process enabling more room to be found within the cockpit, and the provision of a much better driving position too. The chassis itself is the original, but to longer XK 140 dimensions. The interior itself is new while clearly drawing on the look of the original car’s cabin, instruments and controls. Much closer to an original 120 is this new machine’s XK engine, reworked with a narrow-angle C-type cylinder head, an aluminium 3.8-litre block and a lightweight flywheel, its 340bhp driving a five-speed gearbox, a limited slip diff and a 1,150kg target weight. The suspension is extensively redesigned with double wishbones up front and a better-located live rear axle, all four wheels coilover suspended. Which has you wondering how much of dynamic character of the original remains.

Thornley Kelhamco-founder Simon Thornley explains that the idea was to, “Keep the wonder of the original, but with a modern driving experience.” So, something nostalgically beauteous, but usable. There’s no doubting the aesthetic sensitivity of this rebirthing, however, which has produced a car that’s likely to yield a civilised and entertaining old-school drive. Whether you think it’s worth over 5,000 hours and £550,000 is something only an individual can decide. But, it’s individual tastes that make the car business so fascinating.

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