In 2012, Phil Lodge bought an unusual 2001 Jaguar XK8 Burberry edition and was trying to find out about its history.
Have you ever seen one? Was it a factory special or an aftermarket conversion? Burberry said they didn’t know anything about it and likewise Jaguar said they had no record of it. One person said that he thought two of them were made for Burberry to sell their goods, but he wasn’t sure, so Phil continued to pursue his research until finally he was rewarded with the answer!
Every Car Has a Story !!
By Phil Lodge
The first Jaguar I ever saw in person was in the early sixties when I was 14. It was a British Racing Green XKE Roadster Series 1 with a beige leather interior. It had real wire wheels and enclosed headlights. It was the most beautiful car I had ever seen. I was in awe. I could see why Enzo Ferrari said it was “The most beautiful car ever made”. I often wondered who bought that car and what happened to it over the years.
Fast forward fifty years and I’m retired. After slipping on icy stairs in 2010, I attempted to perform a double sulkow triple toe loop before hitting the bottom of the stairs. Needless to say, I didn’t stick the landing. Although my wife did award me style points for my arm flailing and vocalizations, I broke my ankle and had a spiral fracture of the lower leg. With six months of downtime ahead of me, I renewed my interest in cars. I also vowed not to spend another winter in the tundra of up north. I purchased a house in Florida and decided I needed to buy a fun car to go with the warm weather.
What to buy? My thoughts went back to that XKE I saw when I was 14. Since I have limited garage space in Florida, I dismissed pursuing that dream. My mechanical skills are a little rusty and date back to when you changed plug, points, and condenser every 6000 miles. I, next, focused on what modern Jaguar looks as close to that XKE as possible. I settled on the XK8 and began my research. I found that Ford had owned Jaguar for the period I was looking at. On the Jaguar Forum, I found that the plastic timing chain tensioners were a problem and it was a fairly large job with a lot of specialized tools to change them. That seemed to be the only major item that kept showing up.
I then went to the internet to see what I could find. I was still stuck on that British Racing Green color. On the internet, I found a lot of NAA’s (Not As Advertised). I spent a lot of time running down leads and not really finding what I was looking for. I was on my way to the St. Petersburg Florida Gran Prix and decided to stop and look at a 2001 XK8 at Genuine Motorcars in St. Petersburg. It was supposed to be British Racing Green with only 18,218 miles. It was outside. I immediately noticed that the interior was not factory but Burberry.
I was reminded of the old joke. How can you tell a Jaguar owner. He will be the one standing by his car on the side of the road with a Burberry hat hailing down a ride. Not funny!
There were several other differences with this car like 20 inch BBS Champagne wheels and engraved sill plates.
The wheels are 20 Inch Detroit Wheels with Champaign Rims and were probably a performance package, because 20 inch wheels weren’t normal for a 2001 XK8. They were fascinating to me in that I couldn’t find out where you put air in the tires at first glance.
There were no tire stems. In scanning the ring of fasteners on the perimeter I saw one that was a cap. When you unscrewed it, you could see that it took an adaptor to fill the tires.
I took it out for a test drive and it drove beautifully. This was a unique car and I knew there had to be a story behind it. The dealer, sensing he had a fish on the line, was humane in landing me. I didn’t put up much of a struggle, but I did get him to go halfsies on two tires that had been damaged in transit. I drove off determined to find out what the story was behind the customization.
Even though it was a low mileage car, I was worried about the tensioner problem. After reading that it wasn’t necessarily the miles, but the age that could cause failure, I decided to side with caution. After reading how to accomplish this task and the special tools involved, I decided to search for a qualified mechanic. I took the car to European Performance in St. Petersburg and had the tensioners replaced.
I had taken the Vehicle Identification Number before I picked up the car and used Carfax to see if the mileage was legitimate. It was legit. The thing that stood out most is that it wasn’t listed as sold until September 2003 from Jaguar of Great Neck, New York. I was wondering where it had been since it was manufactured in May 2001. I decided to get a Jaguar Heritage Certificate and see if that would shed any light on the matter. It didn’t; it was still listed as cashmere interior.
The next thing I thought of was going to Jaguar and Burberry to see if they knew anything about this car. I emailed both corporate headquarters and got no responses. I tried googling every combination of Jaguar, Burberry, XK8, BBS I could think of and no results. I did get some clues that two XJS’s were modified in the 80’s with burberry interiors: one blue and one beige. I also found a picture of a red XK8 in Nigel Thorley’s book that was done around 1999.
I had been using a Jaguar forum for researching before I bought the XK8, so I decided to start a thread in April 2012 to see if anyone had any knowledge of this edition. After an initial flurry of discussion, the thread spiraled down into a discussion of Burberry accessories. Burberry is a brand that you either love or hate. Not much activity on the Jaguar forum for the following months. I decided to try Jaguar USA again. This time I called and got connected to Mike Cook in archives. I emailed him some pictures and asked if he knew anything about its origin.
The thread on the forum was quiet until February 2014 when a woman named Sandra responded that she had worked in the SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) department at the Brown’s Lane Jaguar Site in Coventry. She had sewn the interior. She said the car was being customized for Burberry opening a new shop on Oxford Street, London. It was to be displayed in the window, which explained the ultra low mileage and not being sold in its first years of its existence. At the same time, Mike Cook from Jaguar USA Archives responded, confirming that a Burberry manager supplied the material and oversaw the conversion.
Sandra also volunteered that as a result of the XK8 being displayed at Harrod’s, they ordered 12 XK8 riding toys with Burberry interiors made – she sewed the interiors for them too !! So now I am looking for one of these, to complete my collection!
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All information correct at time of publishing.