Who we are
Coventry Classics was established in 2002 specifically to build top quality Jaguar C Type replicas. Coach builder and vintage aircraft restorer Brian Dwyer of Hand Crafted Alloy Bodies Ltd and Mark Paterson owner of aircraft maintenance company Southair Ltd had worked for many years in the vintage aircraft restoration industry, often on de Havilland aircraft and joined forces to build C Types.
Brian completed a traditional coach-building apprenticeship and worked for many years repairing cars in a rural area. In those days a damaged body panel was rebuilt, not just replaced. He then worked for Croydon Aircraft at Gore rebuilding De Havilland aircraft and fabricating metal components such as engine cowls and fuel tanks. The complete C Type body and all panelling, chassis, fuel tank, seats, chromed brass grill, exhaust system, radiator are all fabricated from scratch by Brian and his small team at our Gore factory where the cars are also assembled and completed. A number of Jaguar XK sports cars have also been restored by the same team over the years.
Mark has been in the aviation industry since 1990 with Southair Ltd, a Dunedin based aircraft maintenance and restoration company. Mark worked in England as a engineer from 1979 to 1990 and spent far too many weekends attending Jaguar car club events lusting after Jaguar C Types and D Types. Mark looks after the C Type sales side and the Jaguar engine rebuilds using the facilities at Southair’s aircraft engine overhaul shop.
A bit of background
Since 2002 we have manufactured many complete C Types and a number of body/chassis packages. We follow a program of continuous improvement. Three typical examples of our dedication to pursuing quality are discussed below.
Our first development C Type was completed in 2003. A triple Weber car, it went like a scalded cat but it also cornered in a series of arcs, it wandered unexpectedly and randomly, the steering was twitchy and overly sensitive and the brakes suffered occasionally from knock-off, a frightening occurrence. References in various historical Jaguar texts show that the original factory cars had the same problems. After countless hours of work we altered the steering arm geometry to get rid of the built in understeer (great for racing but not ideal on the open road) and tightened up the rear axle and suspension tolerances. The cars are now completely stable at all speeds and the steering is superb. If a car is not good enough for us then it is not good enough for a customer.
Our first front suspension arms were cast items supplied to us by a third party. We had these components x-rayed and threw them out. They were cracked and had multiple inclusions – not the required standard. As a result all our suspension components are machined from solid billet to the original dimensions and specifications for safety.
We also found that with a standard Jaguar sump, the oil surge was a major problem in corners and under heavy braking. The C Types have direct line mechanical oil pressure gauge which reacts instantly. Braking heavily from high speed into a corner watching the oil pressure needle hitting zero was not comforting. Later Jaguars have slow to react electric oil pressure gauges which mask the problem. So we have incorporated the swing doors and baffling modifications used nowadays in classic Jaguars in historic racing and this has solved the problem completely. The alternative is the special two piece cast Jaguar sump used on later C types by the factory but the records show that the factory only really solved this problem when they dry sumped the subsequent D type. Lofty England is famously quoted as stating that the C Types at were so well baffled in one race that they literally boiled the oil!