There aren’t a great many Jaguars with a greater standing in the classic car world than the Mk2, perhaps the archetypal sixties saloon car and one that, if you’re of a certain vintage, will doubtless bring back sepia telly memories of The Sweeney’s John Thaw smashing through cardboard boxes, probably at the wheel of a hard-charging Granada.
Long term Retropower followers will know that this is by no means the first Mk2 Jaguar to have passed through our workshops, with Project Utah, our homage to the original Mk2 prototype of the same name, in the final stages of assembly at this point in time, winter 2021.
We’re not about to rest on our laurels though, and as such we’re thrilled to be able to take the (figurative) wraps off of another Mk2 Jaguar build, one we’ve decided to name in honour of one of the most significant figures in modern British history, Project Churchill. It promises to be one of the most ambitious builds we’ve ever undertaken, at least from a metalwork point of view, primarily as we plan on transforming this classic saloon into a two-door coupe, a process we have no doubt will be as challenging as the end result will be pleasing to behold.
To achieve this we (well, Stu) have set about increasing the length of the doors, then re-mounting the B-pillar further towards the rear of the car. In doing so we hope to have negated one of the biggest obstacles in the path of any coupe-converted-saloon, profile. It’s an area where, if we’re being brutally honest, we feel many of the previous attempts ‘coupe-ising’ the Mk2 have fallen flat and one we hope we’ve been able to improve upon. Cast your eye over the gallery below to see whether or not you agree with our assessment.
Merely extending the doors and remounting the B-pillar was never going be enough to give us the graceful two-door coupe body we’re striving for, however. As such we’ve also chopped the rearmost section of the roof, a drastic modification but one which (we feel) has served to make the transformation from saloon to coupe a whole lot more effective. This has also entailed a significant amount of supporting metalwork revisions to the door surrounds, window apertures, glass, boot and rear screen, but all essential if we’re to end up with a car that does the initial concept justice.
Committing to such a drastic programme of bodywork alterations has forced us to seriously consider the colour the car will sport once complete as this really does have the potential to make or break Project Churchill’s overall ‘look.’ Fear not however, as, after a lengthy consultation process with the Jag’s eventual owner, we’ve opted for ‘Scottish Racing Blue,’ the gorgeous hue made famous by the Ecurie Ecosse team and the series of Jaguar C and D-Types it campaigned successfully in the fifties.
Bodywork revision aside, Project Churchill will be treated to a raft of mechanical and design revisions, most of which we’ll be keeping under wraps for the time being. We can confirm that it will eventually be powered by the supercharged straight-six from the XJR-6, a move likely to please the Jaguar faithful while at the same time disappointing the Retropower contingent down under (we know, we know, we should be sticking a Barra in it), but you can’t please everyone all of the time.
Swapping to such an engine will ask some fairly serious questions of the original chassis, and as such we’ve taken it upon ourselves engineer an independent suspension setup for the rear of the Jag. We’ll be entrusting this aspect of the build to Nat, if only as it’s an area he has plenty of first-hand experience of, most recently and notably in the case of the Mk1 Escort we built for Gordon Murray.
If there’s one overriding theme to Project Churchill, then it’s the promotion of copper wherever possible. We plan on using the material stylistically throughout the build, though especially the exterior and interior where it will replace those trims, fixtures and fittings traditionally made from billet or chrome. Indeed, every piece of traditionally chromed exterior brightwork will instead be made from copper, while the interior (an aspect of the build we plan on making truly unique) will also prioritise its use wherever appropriate.
Project Churchill is in tail-end of the metalwork at the moment, as the images below should hopefully show. Stu has made immense progress however, with much of the custom exterior metalwork complete and on the car. You can therefore get a good idea of how the completed Jag will appear in profile, with an extended door, carefully raked rear screen and custom C-pillar base. He’s also remade the boot floor around our revised rear suspension setup, fabricated and added a spare wheel well and battery box, and created a ‘plinth’ for the fuel tank to sit atop when the car itself is in the Assembly phase.
Now removed from the jig in readiness for Stu to conduct the final metalwork tasks prior to the beginning of the bodywork phase, it’s possible for the first time to get an idea of how Project Churchill will look once it’s complete, which is, in a word, sleek.
All in all, Project Churchill is a fantastically involved, ambitious undertaking of the sort we at Retropower relish. Don’t forget to head over to our YouTube channel to be kept up to date with all our progress in the coming weeks and months.