Modified Jaguars are an uncommon sight at car shows these days, but we can feel a change in the air, because this is actually the second modified “big cat” we’ve featured recently, the first being Kenny’s amazing ’89 XJ40, a car we’ve pretty damn fond of.
This one belongs to Colaërt Jean-François, a 29-year-old painter from Lille in France and is the perfect example of a “less is more” modified car.
Colaërt has built himself a unique slice of British motoring, which is rare even in the UK, let alone over in France.
For some, choosing a Jaguar as the base for a modifying project is a rogue choice, because it’s largely unchartered territory and unlike German brands, off-the-shelf tuning parts aren’t as readily available, which we can only imagine puts some people off.
It’s such a welcome sight to see Jaguars being turned into projects by their owners, undeterred by the custom element of their plans to get these cars sat low.
Codenamed the “X300”, the new XJ was produced by Jaguar between 1994 and 1997 and effectively pensioned off the ageing XJ40 model which had served Jaguar well throughout the years in various guises, having had more facelifts than Donatella Versace.
The “New XJ Series” was the first XJ model produced by Jaguar under Ford management, which gave the company a much-needed kick up the backside with regards to the innovation and technology during the production process.
Following heavy investment totally modernising Jaguar’s manufacturing facilities, Ford set about producing the new XJ, which were a game-changer with regards to mass-production efficiency, flying in the face of the traditional Jaguar methods used (read: endured) previously.
Launched at the 1994 Paris Motorshow, the X300 was designed back in 1991 by Geoff Lawson. Branded as a completely “new” car, this model was essentially a heavily revised XJ40, with curvier haunches and completely redesigned and modernised front and rear ends, this is a nice looking 90s car.
Needles in Haystacks.
Never shy to try something different or push the boundaries, Colaërt set his heart on finding an XJ6 in good condition with the 3.2 litre straight-six engine, seduced by the looks of the Jaguar XJ6. The silky smooth 3.2 puts out 219bhp which is more than enough to waft along in comfort.
Colaërt’s search for the perfect project base led him all over France, but whilst this particular car was located 300km away, it was an "XJ Executive" model in black with matching black leather, a really rare spec among a sea of grey and beige interior XJ6s, this car was definitely a good find.
Upon inspecting the car, the decision was made, a deal was done and it was then a case of transporting the car back to his hometown, Lille, to start the project.
In planning this build, Colaërt wanted to modify his Jaguar with subtle details, creating his own aggressive version of Lawson’s design. Changes to the wheels and suspension were always going to be on the cards because, let’s face it, every car looks better lower.
The original Jet Black paintwork was in good condition having been repainted by the previous owner in 2009, so Colaërt’s main task was bringing it back to a factory shine and ready for car shows. Thankfully, the paint came up perfectly, proving what can be achieved with some good old-fashioned elbow grease.
A smoothed front bumper gives the car a US-look lets the OEM mesh grille take centre-stage at the front of the XJ6, other than that, the bodywork has been kept exactly as Jaguar intended.
Trial & Error.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that this car runs air-ride, which of course means full adjustability and resulting in, dare we say it, a pretty practical car.
Modifying the suspension on a Jaguar isn’t the most straightforward of things, simply because not many people do it and therefore, there isn’t really a market for companies to develop bolt-on kits.
So if you want to get your Jag low, you’re forced to go down the custom engineered route, which is uncharted territory and absolutely a case of trial and error, which comes with it’s frustrations.
Colaërt was left with no choice but to engineer his own X300 air-ride setup, but he loves and challenge and this makes the end result all the more satisfying.
His kit is a bespoke fully custom setup which incorporates universal bags, manual management, a 20-litre tank and a pair of Viair 480cc compressors and does exactly what it needs to get the Jaguar sat nicely on the floor. Top work.
In the wheel department, Colaërt was keen to keep things interesting with a set of three-spoke Work Voggard’s, which fit in perfectly with the 90s look of the X300.
We’re fans of three-spoke wheels here at RollHard and when we heard that Colaërt was considering a set for his Jaguar, we were glued to developments and of course, photos of them bolted up.
In three-piece flavour, the Work Voggard is a simple design, with the added bonus of being fully customisable thanks to its split rim construction.
After some careful offset calculations and trial and error fitting, Colaërt’s perfect wheel specs were arrived at resulting in a suitably wide 18x10.5 setup wrapped in 225/35/18 rubber, providing the aggression envisioned at the start of his project.
Jaguar has always been a car brand for traditionalists which always meant lashings of wood and leather especially in the 1990s. As far as Jaguar was concerned, their XJ line-up had to be even more luxurious than any of it's German rivals, since, well, Jaguars have always had sumptuous interiors and this was always a car designed with the gentleman in mind, so anything less than a truly luxurious interior simply wouldn't be cricket, would it?
With only the finest walnut and hide deemed luxurious enough, the XJ series featured plenty of classic British touches and Colaërt's top-of-the-line XJ Executive left the factory more wood than Sherwood Forest, this interior is top-to-toe in high quality materials.
Now-days Jaguar tends to offer carbon fibre in it's highly spec'd models but we're such a fan of their 1997 approach, which is just pure excess.
With the above in mind, Colaërt didn't feel the need to change a thing, other than give his interior a proper spruce-up to restore it to fine fettle.
The Cat That Got The Cream.
The end result is a clever mix of old and new, with the classic styling cues of the X300 XJ6 model being retained in all their 1990s glory, but now with a modern twist thanks to the Work Voggard wheels and new (and very aggressive) ride-height.
The chrome details of the 3.2 XJ are perfectly accentuated by the polished dishes of the 18” Work wheels and as an overall package, this car looks every inch a show car.
This Jaguar is the result of pure out-of-the-box thinking, which is exactly what we love here at RollHard. Who’d have thought it, a British classic with French flair? C’est parfait!