About Us

Firstly, allow me introduce myself, my name is Paul Banham and I have spent most of my working life building, designing and remodelling various cars to get what I wanted at that time or to produce something I felt could be marketed to the public.

During a telephone conversation with a longstanding friend I was set a challenge.  He had seen and admired a particular car for a number of years that he had said was “unobtainable”, the Jaguar XK180. was Challenging my regularly voiced opinion that no car was unobtainable!
 
A few days later, just before Christmas 2005 I received a present from this friend, a 1-18 scale model of the XK180 made in China under license from Jaguar “Okay, make me this” were the comments on the card. This was how it began.
 
I spent a few days looking at the model and searching the internet for any information/photographs I could find of the XK180.  Interested to read the history of how it was a Concept/Prototype car in the vein of the XJ13, one of which was built in 1966.  One of only two mid engine Jaguars ever?
 
Jaguar produced the XK180 in 1998 and it was shown in both Paris and Detroit where it was very well received. Everybody had been waiting for a short wheel base bare minimum Jaguar Roadster and this was it.  It did not even have a radio or door handles and certainly no roof! A true Concept Car.
 
Two were built as Concepts that should have become the production model of the F type, which it is rumoured Jaguar took 30,000 orders for before it was axed due to the economic climate.  Only one prototype of the F type being made which looked stunning, but only had electric motors driving the wheels.
 
I discovered that one of the two concept cars originally made was still in existence and living in the U.K. in the  Jacuar Heritage Museum.   The other car resides in a private collection of concepts in California.
 
Although my Wife was keen to visit the car in California, a visit to the Heritage Museum at Browns Lane in Birmingham, U.K. was hastily arranged; there I managed to look at, sit in and ask questions about the car, leaving the Museum with armfuls of brochures/photographs and a head full of ideas.
 
So to work:-
 
I decided that the best car to base the XK180 on would be an XJS as the original body prototyping was done on a shortened XJS facelift floor pan. The XJS would offer lots of different options in terms of engine size and readily available cars at a reasonable price. This also provided the added advantage that The XJS is also egistered as a sports convertible thus avoiding problems with re-registering at a later date.
 
As with other builds I have undertaken, I designed my 180 to retain as many of the original mechanical and electrical parts of the car as possible as these are all Jaguar, therefore ensuring the finished item is still a Jaguar and not lots of bits from different vehicles.
 
Now to the hard part, start to make it! By January 2006 I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do.  I began to look for a donor car and decided my best option was a 1990 XJS 3.6, one of my main reasons being this car was not rusty. All XJS’s share a common body shell and as I was going to change the engine and gearbox all I really needed was a good shell with the mechanical components in the right places, so when making the form everything would fit beneath it.
 
The first job was to reduce the wheel base from 102 inches to 96.5 inches, this was done by literally cutting the car across the middle and welding it back together with some strengthening tubes in the sills the same as a convertible would have been built.  Then came the all important shape, which I constructed with a wooden frame and polyurethane foam until I achieved a refined shape using the photographs and model to ensure accuracy and symmetry.
 
A set of moulds were then taken from my original plug and the first set of body panels were produced from these moulds.  I weighed up in my mind whether to use the XJS that I had based the original shape on or to buy another one, but I went with the original removing the wooden frame and foam and reducing the car down to the floor and axles and removing the engine and gearbox and replacing them with a manual gearbox and a 4 litre AJ16 supercharged engine.
 
The next step was to skin the car up in the new body panels and prepare it to be painted in the unique blue/green metallic like the British right-hand drive XK180.  The American left-hand drive car appears to be dark green metallic.
 
Then I paid some attention to the interior making door cards, dash casings and seat shells, obviously moulding all these items and having them covered in dark green and magnolia leather.  The wind deflector and side curtains were another challenge as plugs had to be made as male moulds for the specialist plastic formers needed oversized versions to wrap hot plastic sheet to obtain the complex three dimensional shapes for the wind deflector and side curtains.
 
I then set about putting it onto a set of original BBS Detroit wheels, quite enormous ten inch rears and nine inch fronts. 

The suspension also needed subtle modification due to the sheer lack of weight, rear shock absorbers and springs were changed to obtain the correct ride height and damping.
 
By Christmas 2006 I e-mailed my friend a photograph of the unobtainable car that he had sent me a model of the year before!  Virtually finished and ready for the road.
 
My target to take it to The Goodwood Festival of Speed June 2007 was met, but unfortunately it rained for three whole days.  The most flattering comments I had were “Why isn’t it on the Jaguar stand?”  Other positive comments over the internet, “Can we see a picture of your car and not the original.”  I have had other customers ask me to photograph my car with a copy of that day’s newspaper!  

It is probably a good time to mention that all photographs on this site are of my car and not the one in the Museum!