Walking into the new Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works facility in Coventry, England — basically a massive 150,000-square-foot repair and restoration shop — the contrast is startling. Ancient, beaten-down Defenders, with their doors barely hanging on and their engines hopeless, rusted hulks, sit on spotless floors under lighting fit for a surgical theater rather than in gritty, equally ancient garages as technicians in crisp uniforms pore over them. Newly glistening 60s E-Types — bonnets detached — meet period engines that look as though they just rolled off an assembly line themselves. Stately XJ sedans from the 1980s glide slowly into service bays worthy of any 2017 Ferrari or Lamborghini.
This strangely dissonant vibe is precisely the contrast the facility’s bosses are striving for. Because while garages that may match the era of the vehicle being repaired or restored certainly syncs up with the nostalgia the cars come freighted with, there’s also much to be said for a clean, high-tech center that will take a modern approach to caring for your vintage metal. To wit, I was born in 1970. Doesn’t mean I’d want to visit a hospital from that same era today.
The Classic Works center offers repair and restoration services to owners of any vintage of Jaguar or Land Rover — assuming the vehicles are out of production at least 10 years. This in addition to restoring its own inventory of vehicles, many of which it offers for sale. When each vehicle enters the facility, it’s given a thorough assessment and restoration plan before being broken down and having each part evaluated and restored to like-new condition. Though the facility uses plenty of modern equipment, including 3-D scanning and computer-aided design, to help fabricate new parts, it also relies on the skills and knowledge of its employees, many of whom worked on the original assembly lines for the vehicles they’re now servicing in vintage form. With an estimated 1.5 million classic Jags and Land Rovers in existence worldwide, those employees can likely count on a steady stream of reunions for years to come.
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