- Post is under moderationCRAZY JAGUARS /
It’s not often you see a #Jaguar with a supercharged #V8 sticking out of the bonnet. Well here’s two of them!
In the average wedding car, you’d be lounging in the back in the swells of loved-up marital bliss. But these big cats would definitely have you calling shotgun… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Ben Hosking.
“What is a wedding? Well, Webster’s Dictionary describes a wedding as: the process of removing weeds from one’s garden.” So said Homer Simpson in the iconic 1994 episode ‘Secrets of a Successful Marriage’. Inspiring stuff.
Weddings, it goes without saying, are hard. Months of preparation, agonising over seating plans and the family politics of who you can and can’t invite without causing awkward tension and a cessation of future Christmas cards, grappling with suppliers who double the cost of everything simply because you’ve prefixed each item with ‘wedding’ (seriously, ‘wedding napkins’ are just napkins that happen to be at a wedding)… it’s enough to age you ten years in one. The honeymoon comes as a blessed relief simply because it’s a chance not to spend every evening doing bloody wedmin.
For people like us, of course, there’s an extra level of stress and jeopardy: what do you go for in terms of wedding transportation? For the average couple it’s easy enough to just get on the blower to Rent-a-Roller and rock up in a Silver Shadow, job done – but if you spend every day with engine oil under your fingernails and squinting through arc-eye, you need something a bit more eye-catching.
Something with a story. And that’s where Fat Cat Classics come in – at least, for residents of New South Wales, Australia. This is your one-stop shop for a badass wedding convoy; they’ve got a fleet of three matching Jaguars jam-packed full of shock-and-awe mischief and rumbling horsepower. You see them here bunched together in the workshop of Sydney’s Forza Performance, but this is an aggressive trio that loves nothing more than a blast on the open road, vying for tarmac-troubling supremacy as they each deploy sodding great gobs of torque. Sure, they’ll get the blushing bride to the church on time, but they’ll frighten the life out of her on the way there. Which, naturally, should set a precedent for the rest of the marriage.
You’ll spot that there are three cars in the package, each resplendent in shimmering silver paint and lipstick red interiors. There’s a 1963 Mark X, a 1971 XJ12, and a more modern S-Type – we’ll swerve the latter for the sake of keeping this spotlight squarely focused on the Retro Cars heartland, and take you on a journey in the former pair, each one eager to ruck up your suit and do unseemly things to your cummerbund.
…but before we do, let’s take a little look at their respective personas. You see, these cars have names, and names always carry weight; the Mark X is named Elizabeth, and you may call the XJ12 Marilyn. As you’ve no doubt deduced, this refers to the classic celebrity rivalry of the late 1950s and early ’60s, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. While history ultimately seems to have handed Monroe the trophy, it was Taylor who was winning the race for column inches, and her bank balance was pretty healthy too – she was earning $1m a movie while Marilyn was taking home $100k. It’s the classic tale of the eager up-and- comer in the shadow of established royalty, with both parties actually being enormously jealous of one another’s assets. And so the rivalry rages in the Fat Cat garage.
Elizabeth is imposing enough to immediately position herself as top cat here. The perky billet 8/71 supercharger poking through the savaged bonnet acts as a psiren song, an irresistible lure toward the danger within.
“The engine swap was easily the hardest part of the build,” says Fat Cat’s Sean Carolan. “We had to re-engineer the whole front end.” Indeed, with the Jag’s original motor swapped out for a meaty small block Chevy V8 – 6.3-litres, no less – you can imagine just what sort of upheaval was required. The floorpans were reconfigured, transmission tunnel reworked, and firewall modified to make room for the vast new powertrain. An XJ12 independent rear end sits out back to help deploy the growling fury of it all, ensuring that the engineering project wasn’t just confined to the car’s leading edge, and there’s a feel of solidity and dependability throughout the chassis. And that’s just as well really, as the last thing you want is your wedding car breaking down. “We made the decision to keep the power at a moderate level, to ensure that there were no annoying breakdowns or overheating when getting the bridal party to the chapel,” Sean explains. “As such, Elizabeth currently makes 450rwhp on 6psi, although more power could easily be found if we changed our minds!”
The natural balance to be reached here is that, no matter how powerful or extreme a wedding car may be, it must always be luxuriously appointed. No bride wants her five-grand dress being creased by a set of aggressive Takata harnesses or snagged on an exposed door innard. So Elizabeth’s interior has been artfully trimmed in fi nest scarlet leather – a hide plucked from the Aston Martin menu, no less. The carpets and headlining wear a similarly bright shade, with the overall vista being one of classic, timeless elegance. Well, until you peer over the chauffeur’s shoulder and spot that gargantuan blower poking out of the front, that is.
What of Marilyn, then? Is she a shrinking violet, in the thrall of the ruler of the roost? No, not a bit of it. Let’s not forget that Marilyn Monroe was a bit of a firecracker, and seldom happy to stand in another’s shadow. The logic of the respective names does falter somewhat when we look at linear chronology (Taylor was some years younger than Monroe, whereas the Marilyn Jaguar is the younger car here), but their positions make sense. The Mark X is the bigger, brasher, more imposing car, but the XJ12 snaps at its heels like a snarling puppy. The 1971 Series 1 was in fact born of a ten-day whirlwind of workshop activity in the run-up to Sean’s own marriage to his partner-in- crime Leigh. “We built Marilyn on a very tight timeline,” he says. “It was created from a rolling shell in just ten days, it was very intense – we were still working on it at 2am on the day of the ceremony. I was one tired groom!” Hey, it’s all about priorities, isn’t it? And if your wedding car is your business, you can’t show up in a half-finished motor. Particularly when your other car is so flawless.
You can see that the aesthetic is neatly carried over to the ’71; both cars wear the same 20in Vertini wheels and the same shade of silver paint, along with that shockingly red interior treatment with its old-school wood accents. They also share an absolute disregard for any semblance of subtlety when it comes to poking shiny slabs of mechanical equipment through the bonnet, and the XJ12 is also no slouch. Sean’s looking at the thick end of 420hp at the rear wheels, which should ensure that the bride’s mother arrives at the church sideways, screaming in terror and choking on acrid tyresmoke. In deference to her big sister, Marilyn wears just the one carb instead of two and a smaller blower, but the numbers still aren’t to be sniffed at. It’s more about hierarchy than compromise.
“If I had my time over again, I think I would have put a bigger supercharger on Marilyn,” says Sean thoughtfully, scratching his chin as he considers the implications. “In fact, I think I would have built both with injected setups instead of the carbs…” You can see the way his mind’s working, can’t you? These cars aren’t just built as static showpieces; they’re workhorses of course, but evolving ones. Work also happens to be pleasure here, and you can’t stop a man like this from playing with his toys. There are always treasons, stratagems, and spoils afoot. You can be pretty sure that if and when you were to see these cars again, they’d be subtly different – or perhaps, as befits their nature, not so subtle…
The act of planning a wedding is never going to run smoothly, but if you’re aiming to get married in the vicinity of this fleet of raucous Jags, that can at least be one major box ticked off the list. And if you need help with the rest of the planning, just remember the wisdomous advice that Homer Simpson had to offer on the subject: “That’s it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I’m going to clown college!”
Oh wait, no, not that. Er… “Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.” There you go. The Simpsons always offer a solution.
SPECIFICATION #1971 / #Jaguar-XJ12-Series-1 (MARILYN) / #Jaguar-XJ12 / #Jaguar-XJ-Series-1 / #Jaguar-XJ / #Jaguar-XJ12-Series-1-Marilyn /
ENGINE: 400ci (6.6-litre) small block #Chevy-V8 #V8 , 4-bolt mains, 4in stroke Scat crank, Scat H-beam rods, Probe forged 8.9:1 pistons, Clevite bearings, ARP head and mains studs, ported alloy heads, Isky springs and retainers, Cam Tech custom solid cam, Trend pushrods, Yella Terra 1.5:1 rockers, Rollmaster doublerow timing chain, Melling oil pump, 750cfm Barry Grant carb, 4/71 #GM supercharger (6psi), MSD Pro Billet dizzy, MSD coil and leads, MSD 6AL, Holley fuel pump, custom 4-into-1 headers, twin 3in mild steel exhaust, X-pipe, 420rwhp
TRANSMISSION: T400 auto, 3000rpm stall, Jaguar XJ12 LSD, custom tailshaft
SUSPENSION: Pedders shocks and springs
BRAKES: Series 3 front brakes, stock rears
WHEELS & TYRES: 8.5x20in Vertini wheels
INTERIOR: Momo steering wheel, Recaro front seats, red leather trim, Hurst shifter, red carpets, red headlining, satnav, Pioneer stereo, Autometer gauges
EXTERIOR: Stock restored XJ12, bonnet cutout
SPECIFICATION #1963 / #Jaguar-Mark-X (ELIZABETH) / JAGUAR MARK X / #Jaguar-MkX / #Jaguar-Mk10 / #Jaguar-MkX-Elizabeth /
ENGINE: 383ci (6.3-litre) small block #Chevy-V8 / #GM-V8 / #GM , Scat 3.750” crank, 4-bolt mains, #Scat H-beam rods, Probe blower 8.8:1 pistons, moly rings, #Clevite bearings, #ARP head and mains studs, ported cast heads, #Cam-Tech hydraulic roller cam, Crower lifters, Trend pushrods, Yella Terra 1.5:1 rockers, Rollmaster double row timing chain, Melling oil pump, HE sump, #B&M oil cooler, Edelbrock water pump, XR6 thermo fan and radiator, 120A alternator, custom billet pulleys, 2x 750cfm #Demon carbs, TBS 8/71 supercharger (6psi), MSD Pro Billet dizzy, MSD coil and leads, MSD 6AL, Holley Black fuel pump, block hugger pipes, twin 3” exhaust, custom X-pipe, 450rwhp
TRANSMISSION: #GM-T400 auto, 3000rpm stall, #Jaguar XJ12 diff , LSD, custom 2-piece tailshaft
SUSPENSION: Pedders shocks and springs
BRAKES: Factory #Jaguar twin-piston calipers
WHEELS: 8.5x20in (front) and 10x20in (rear) Vertini wheels
INTERIOR: Custom Aston Martin red leather trim, Hurst shifter, Autometer gauges, red carpets, red headlining, Pioneer head unit, power amp and speakers
EXTERIOR: Stock restored Mark X, bonnet cutout
“Elizabeth currently makes 450rwhp on 6psi, although more power could easily be found if we ever decided to change our minds”
How many wedding cars do you know of where the engine sticks through the bonnet! Christ, it’s enough to make you want to get married!
At the time of its launch the XJ12 was claimed to be “the fastest full four-seater in the world”. With a #Chevy-V8 it’s now even faster! #Jaguar-S-Type isn’t really retro Cars fodder, but it completes the Jag trio nicely.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.