Thornley Kelham unwraps 1950s Jaguar XK European restomod

Concours-winning restoration specialist Thornley Kelham has produced a re-engineered version of Jaguar’s fifties sports car icon, called the XK European

Thornley Kelham, the classic car restoration specialist best known for its snorting Lancia Aurelia B20GT Outlaw restomod, has now turned its attention to the Jaguar XK of the 1950s. 

The new project, called the XK European, is a redesigned, high performance rendition of the British sports coupe, with a new suspension package and an uprated straight-six engine producing up to 335bhp.

The XK European will be built in limited numbers, with prices starting from £550,000 - excluding an XK donor car. Each takes around 5,000 hours to complete, with a new fully aluminium body designed by Paul Howse, who's past projects include the McLaren P1 hypercar. 

Each car is restored to concourse spec, and features a more sporting silhouette than the original model, with a cut down roofline. The XK's curves have been exaggerated and the wheel arches have been swollen to accommodate wider wire wheels and tyres. The car has also been decluttered, with most of its chrome trim removed, and the teardrop rear end is more streamlined than before. 

Of course, as with most restomods, buyers should have myriad personalisation options available to them, which will extend to the redesigned cabin. The overall layout is similar, but the donor car's wooden dashboard trim has been replaced by body coloured aluminium, and the XK European's lower roofline has forced a lower, more sporting seating position. The seats themselves are more supportive items and the door panels have been revised for improved ergonomics. 

Modern tech has been neatly integrated, too, with electric windows, air-conditioning, power steering and Bluetooth connectivity, along with numerous infotainment options. 

Beneath the long bonnet lies a Jaguar straight-six engine, bored out to 3.8-litres and fitted with new cams and direct injection to produce either 296bhp or 335bhp, depending on spec. The motor is cooled by a new aluminium radiator and an oil cooler, and drives the rear wheels through a reworked five-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential.

To cope with the extra performance, the XK European features redesigned suspension that does away with the original car's leaf spring set-up. There are double wishbones all around with Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers at each corner, and a redesigned rear axle.

Thornley Kelham hasn't detailed how many XK European's will be built, but numbers are 'strictly limited' for the £550,000 restomod.

Now read about the ​Caton Austin Healey 100 BN1 restomod...

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