Thornley Kelham debuts Jaguar XK European restomod

The firm behind the Outlaw Lancia Aurelia has been working on a classic Jaguar XK with tantalising results

Thornley Kelham has already accrued quite a reputation for their restoration work on cars like the Lancia Aurelia Outlaw, so if you’re more into British classics its planned interpretation of the classic Jaguar XK will certainly raise some eyebrows. To be launched under its new ‘European’ series, the Jaguar XK restoration service takes a more sensitive approach than the chopped Lancia, but follows the same modernisation process. 

Each unit will be built from an original XK, which was built by Jaguar between 1948 and 1961 in XK120, XK140 and XK150 forms. The basic chassis and powertrain will remain, albeit with a considerable amount of bespoke modifications, but the body is all-new, finding its aesthetic in period but with cleaner detailing and sharper graphics that are only possible with contemporary design and engineering techniques.

The body itself has been designed by Paul Howse, former McLaren designer in part responsible for the 720S and P1. While it might not immediately look different from Jaguar’s original fixed-head coupes, the surfacing has more extreme curvature on its body sides and rear end, taking inspiration from the E-Type Lightweight and period ‘50s racing cars. The bumpers and most of the brightwork have also been removed, further cleaning up the bodywork. 

Inside, some concessions to comfort have been made such as the inclusion of a stereo and air-conditioning, but of far more importance is the work Thornley Kelham has put into modifying the XK’s driving position, significantly lowering the driver’s H-point and repositioning most of the dials to suit.

The 3.4-litre straight-six engine will undergo a thorough overhaul, with a swap over to fuel injection, the cylinders rebored and block reconditioned. Thornley Kelham will also fit a bespoke camshaft, plus a new radiator and oil cooler. All-in, the engine is expected to hit a power figure of around 300bhp, which is a significant jump on the 160-220bhp it made from the factory. 

Power is typically sent to the rear wheels via a rebuilt five-speed manual transmission, but new for the Thornley cars is the fitment of a limited-slip differential – an element that also required the rear suspension to be redesigned in order to accommodate it. The front-end has also been tweaked, and given a new set of coilover suspension pairing Bilstein dampers with Eibach springs. The brakes are also uprated, the original set to be swapped out for a modern set of discs with four-piston calipers at all four corners. 

Thornely Kelham has initiated development of the project with the first commission already locked in. Prices will vary depending on customer specification, but will start at £550,000 not including the cost of the donor car.

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