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The Beacham Jaguar Mk 2: How to modernize a classic

By Rigval on 27 Jun 2010

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The 1960s Jaguar Mk 2 is an icon of automotive styling. It was a favourite for gangsters and bank robbers in the U.K. in its heydays because it was fast and handled well. The favourite was the 3.8liter version as it could outrun the outdated Rovers used by the British Police then. Until the police themselves started using it that is. The Mk 2 especially on chrome wire wheels looked especially good and hit all the right notes when it came to the styling. Its styling was so liked that Jaguar based its late 1990s S-type on this car. But it didn't look right as it was too retro looking for its own good.

Anyway, due to its everlasting popularity, the Mk 2 is a favourite among classic car enthusiasts as well as among Jaguar collectors. Due to this, there is a few companies in the UK like Eagle, that cater to the refurbishment as well as 'upgrading' of this Jag utilizing engines from newer Jaguars as well as modern brakes and other equipment. However a company in New Zealand had caught my eye, offering the same services for Jaguar collectors in this part of the world.

Beacham started off as restorers of these cars, then started upgrading them with the more modern technology of newer Jaguars. Their specialty seems to be Supercharged V8 cars using the Mk 2 base engine. To date more than 200 MK2's have been delivered to customers by the company. The company states that their cars “may look old but it's been re-engineered, re-developed and completely rebuilt so that it is, to all intents and purposes, new."

And as such, the car looks the same way it left the Jaguar factory in the U.K, but with extra bonnet louvres that come from the XKR sports car, air scoops under the front bumper, and larger diameter Jaguar competition tires on wider chrome wire wheels. But when you start peeling off the outer skin and start looking into the passenger cabin you can notice the changes made.

The specs read out like a modern car with ABS brakes, traction control and anti-dive suspension geometry to name a few. The electrically adjustable seats must have come from a current Jaguar. It has power windows (not something you see often in a car from the 1960s) central locking, power-operated sunroof, power-adjustable steering wheel and side mirrors, both with Memory Function. The polished wood dashboard and center console looks like it came from the S-type Jaguar and has a premium sound system as well as GPS. But for me, it is the incorporation of the SRS/Airbag Systems that makes this modernization of the Mk 2 something well thought of. And yes, there is an option for the all important cup holders that we seem to want in our cars nowadays.

The modernization continues with Beacham plonking in a 4.0liter supercharged XJR engine and transmission into the Mk 2. This ensures over 370bhp (in the supercharged version and 290bhp in the normally aspirated one) and a 0-96km/h time of 6 seconds flat. To stop, the ABS runs AP Racing brakes that fill those 16 inch wire wheels. This from a car that is over 40 years old.

What I like about the Beacham Mk 2 is that it seamlessly integrates old and new in a beautiful package. It is a joy to look at and now with modern reliability as well as extra power it should be an even better drive. And yes, it seems that the people in New Zealand can also come up with pretty good engineering work too.

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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Elijahritz Nov 30 2010 08:27 AM
The things that I love about classic cars is that they have stronger quality of body, powerful engine, stable tie rod assembly and unique style of rims. Even though the looks of the car may seem very old, it still has a modern interiors to make the driver and passengers comfortable. I have to admit that this is one great car.
ClassiCars Sep 12 2011 12:20 AM
Can this be done in Singapore? I have a classic Jaguar i would like to restore.
Rigval Sep 12 2011 08:19 AM
there is a difference between restoration and I suppose modernization of a classic car. There are many 'restorers' around if you look around. You could go to a garage like http://www.davidworksgarage.com/ and see if they can do up your jag (but they seem like a fiat/alfa/ford/mg specialist). There are quite a few in KL too but if you want it like a Beacham then things are different - note the engine, steering, brakes are totally modern and PROPERLY DONE. It can be done but your car will be the guinea pig of course. Haven't seem a full on job like the above here and I happen to know a few classic Jag owners in Malaysia. Most of the cars are still originals with only the radio/tyres/air-cond using modern parts.
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