'89 XJ40 - The English Gentleman.

Words: Aron Norris | Photography: Lucio Achler

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Flipping The Script.

We ask you, what kind of sick individual modifies a true English classic? The Jaguar/Daimler brand is synonymous with English tradition and sophistication, so how on earth does Jaguar have any place in the modified car scene?

It doesn’t really, does it?

Whilst modifying a Jaguar is an absolutely horrible thing to do and would annoy purists left, right and centre, we fully support it, because we’re RollHard and we love out-of-the-box cars which upset the applecart.

Some people think Jaguar is a brand aimed at coffin dodgers and maybe they’re right, but that just gives a modified Jag even more kudos in our eyes. It’s time to flip the script my friends.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Behind The Wheel.

It takes a special kind of car enthusiast to tackle a Jaguar/Daimler and the owner of this particular big cat is Kenny Germeau, 24, from Belgium.

Kenny is a guy who loves modified metal and has always driven low cars. With a track record of cool projects including Volkswagen Golfs (Mk1 & Mk6), Audis (80, A3 and A6) and an E36 BMW, Kenny is no stranger to modified metal.

Like a lot of car enthusiasts, Kenny loves the challenge of a new project and doesn’t keep his cars long, so with his previous cars sold, he was on the look-out for his next four-wheeled victim, which ended up being the Daimler XJ40 you see here.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Feline Seduction.

Originally scoping out E23/E24 BMWs, Kenny came to the conclusion that with so many modified examples about, he wanted something different, something a lot less common. With this in mind, he started brainstorming rarer cars and with the creative juices flowing, found himself looking at 1990s Jaguars and Daimlers.

Kenny had a vision for his XJ40 and as a big fan of clean bodywork and genuine three-piece wheels, this car was always going to have aggressive fitment, even if it meant going fully custom, as he later found out.

Kenny loved the style of the XJ40 model despite knowing that finding a good one would be difficult, but the real sticking point was that there were no off-the-shelf lowering kits available for the XJ40 platform cars.

This meant that lowering wouldn’t be a simple and straightforward process, unlike the BMW and Mercedes equivalents, which initially put him off.

Wondering if it would all be worth the hassle, he was in two-minds about his next project car, but after looking again at the alternatives, they just seemed way too common and just didn’t float his boat like the XJ40 did.

Kenny was seduced by the classic British lines of the XJ40 which are so different to anything coming out of the Germany during this era. Given that the XJ40 was largely based on the previous Series III model, it retained a low roofline and long bonnet which was very much a traditional Jaguar trait.

At first, Kenny was reluctant because everything would have to be custom but kept returning to his Google image search history and was again reminded of the XJ40s potential as a modified project.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Finessing a British Classic.

With a modern classic like the Daimler XJ40, it makes total sense to keep the bodywork original and there was never any risk of Kenny bolting on tacky arches/over fenders or adding spoilers for dramatic effect, this build was always going to be simple and effective, almost OEM+, you could say.

This big cat has been modified with every respect paid to its sophisticated pedigree. You don’t mess up a Jaguar/Daimler, you finesse it.

With big plans for the rest of the build, Kenny set about sorting out the bodywork to give himself a blank canvas before the fun stuff kicked off. With a 4.0 straight-six engine purring away under the bonnet, Kenny didn’t feel the need to do anything with the performance of his big cat so carried out a full service and health check.

With a few areas of rust to fix and the usual age-related car park dents and dings, Kenny booked the car in for some sympathetic restoration work, keeping as much of the original paint as possible. This approach paid dividends, as the XJ40 was back in time for the Wörthersee 2018 trip.

With the bodywork looking spot on, next up was to sort out the ride height, which as mentioned, was a completely custom operation.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Getting Low.

Forced down the custom fabrication route in the suspension stakes, Kenny planned out his setup meticulously. In order to get his big cat low enough to satisfy his fitment needs, on the front he built a pair of Koni shocks with custom Jaguar XJR Sport springs and the rears are now coilovers thanks to a pair of adjustable KWs he had from a previous project which he cleverly adapted to fit the XJ40. 

His long-term plans include a full air ride setup to get the XJ40 laying frame and more practical for road-trips around Europe. With a car like this, comfort is a must and Kenny is already cooking up plans for his next custom suspension setup.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Vintage Epsilon Wheels.

In the wheel department, Kenny decided against going down the regular BBS or Rotiform route. This car deserved a unique set of wheels nestled under its arches, which to Kenny, meant only one brand; Epsilon.

Epsilon are an “if you know, you know” kind of wheel brand, not least because they’re super rare but notably they went bust, immortalising the brand and its products forever. Kenny’s setup is a rather special, built from 16” to 18” by Gekrenzert using step-up slant lips.

At the front he’s running 18x8.5 ET27 with 205/35 tyres and 18x10.5 ET24 on 225/35 at the rear. With serious width at the rear, the XJ40 certainly looks the part.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Private Members Club.

The interior is so very Jaguar/Daimler in every possible way. Everything in sight is upholstered in leather with lashings of walnut burr, the interior of the XJ40 is a lavish place to be. For a 1989 car, there are gadgets galore with most interior adjustments being performed electronically, which whilst adding a heavy dose of executive cool, strikes fear into the heart of any owners because when the electrics go wrong on 1989 Jaguars, they go wrong in a big way.

Thankfully for Kenny, he’s managed to find a good one where everything works just great. The benefit of his car is that it is a Daimler, which means it has ALL of the executive add-ons including burr walnut seat trays and extended leather. This car would have been a seriously spec’d machine when it left the Jaguar forecourt in 1989, it’s like a private members club in here.

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

 

Quintessentially English.

Produced between 1986 and 1994, the XJ40 was Jaguar’s way of telling the world that it still knew how to build a luxury saloon. Kenny has reminded us in 2018 that who dares wins.

The lack of off-the-shelf parts is probably one of the biggest reasons we don’t see many Jaguars being modified, which is what makes Kenny such a hero with his Daimler XJ40. Fighting an uphill struggle, his car is a refreshing break from the norm and we’re so glad he took as risk with this build. We salute you Kenny, your XJ40 is a testament to what’s possible when you think outside of the box. 

RollHard Feature - 1989 Daimler Jaguar XJ40 4.0 Sport - Epsilon Wheels, low, custom suspension, low jaguar, slam sanctuary, rollhard belgium, wortherseetreffen,

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