Living the dream for a fraction of the price

4

Author: James PagePublished:

I should admit straight away that I have a changeable attitude towards replicas. Some just look wrong, while others look pretty accurate but have completely unsuitable running gear. Very few seem, to my eye anyway, to get the mixture spot-on.

I have, however, always had a bit of a weakness for Jaguar C-type replicas. The Coventry firm’s original road-racer is one of my all-time favourites, and I can definitely see myself in a good recreation. Apart from as transport to the Le Mans Classic, that is, because last summer everyone queuing for the ferry seemed to have one…

But that’s beside the point. A few weeks ago, art editor Port organised a photoshoot location that just happened to also be the home of Classic Jaguar Replicas. He knows owner Phil Cottrell from the latter’s role running Thatcham Mini Centre, but Cottrell and son Oli now spend most of their time building C-type, D-type and XKSS reps.

Phil has long been associated with Jaguars, as a dealer, restorer and mechanic. In fact, he kept the first two replicas that he built – both D-types – for himself. He then worked with Realm Engineering to develop the Heritage C-type recreation, before Oli joined him in 2005.

At the end of our (completely unrelated) shoot, Cottrell offered me a drive in their own ‘demo’ C-type, and it seemed rude to say no. The fact that each car they produce is tailored to the owner, and I was a good few inches shorter than either Phil or Oli, was no problem. Phil raised the seat base a little so that I could see over (or at least through) the steering wheel and, with legs fully stretched to reach the pedals and Port alongside on camera duties, I was good to go.

CJR has now produced 19 C-types, with each one based on original factory drawings. Beneath the aluminium bodywork (a glassfibre version is also available) lies a handmade spaceframe chassis and the running gear from an XJ6. That means a 4.2-litre straight-six, in this case running on triple Webers. There’s fully independent suspension all round, and a Toyota five-speed gearbox.

It’s a stunning package on the road. The gearchange, via this car’s competition clutch, is fantastic and straight-line performance eye-opening. The noise – such an important part of an authentic replica – is savage, the crisp note barely silenced on this example.

It handles tidily as well, with the radials giving plenty of grip, plus the disc brakes inspire confidence.

If that doesn’t seem like a recipe to attract the purist, Phil offered me a drive in another C-type that he happened to have on-site. This time, it had a Jaguar gearbox and SU carburettors, plus a quieter exhaust and crossply tyres.

The gearchange had a longer throw and the engine did most of its work lower down the rev range compared to the more highly strung Weber-equipped version, but this would undoubtedly be the better choice for a longer run on the road – despite the increased ‘wandering’ and reduced grip from the crossplies. It’s calmer, less conspicuous, more usable, and closer in spirit to the original.

With the glassfibre cars starting at just over £40,000, and the aluminium ones for almost twice that, I’m unlikely to fulfill any dreams of ownership just yet. While Port occasionally talks in wistful tones about GT40 replicas, the couple of hours spent playing with CJR’s cars confirmed that – in the world of recreations – a C-type is still top of my list.

If you want to get an idea of the noise, by the way, click here to check out our video of the two cars in action.

 

Comments

jhepb1

I can see why people might consider buying a replica if they can't afford their dream car, but they must know they're not getting the very element that "makes" C-types, GT40s, Cobras, 250GTOs, etc. what they are: they're the Real Thing, built by the original workforce back in the day.
I'm not immune to this sort of temptation. I've spent too many hours working through Hawk Cars' website, figuring out how much it would cost to build a 289FIA Cobra, until I realise, for the umpteenth time, that I'm kidding myself.
The growth in creating clones or tribute cars is another odd development. What's the point in sticking Lotus badges on a Cortina, say, or "creating" a Mini Cooper from a standard car? Those who know what they're looking at won't be fooled and those who don't, don't care anyway.
A replica can be of the highest quality, look and sound the same, drive the same and perform the same as the car it emulates, but it's still a fake. Sorry if the F-word offends, but it just is.

CamaroZ28

Marty Mac

I'm going to use another "f" word here, fun. I have a Hawk Cars HF2000 Lancia Stratos replica, sure if I had the money I'd have a real one, but that will never happen. If I had a real one would I drive it as much as I drive my copy? Who knows, I've never tried to pass it off as a real one, I've wanted a Stratos since seeing Markku Alen drive one many years ago and this is as close as it gets. The kit is incredibly well made, I believe many parts made by Hawk are used by real Stratos owners when restoring their cars. One of my closest friends has a Cobra replica, again he'd never be able to afford a real one and this is as close as he'll ever come to owning one. Again he never tries to pass it off as real one.
The main thing though is that we both drive our cars a lot, have fun, there's that "f" word again!

James Elliott

'F' ing brilliant argument for replicas Marty Mac.

Group Editor, C&SC

joevs21001

I have to disagree with jhepb1 above about his "f" word or "fake" comments about the car. Now, I have absolutely no problem with his view of fake or real car or replicas, etc. as each person thinks a little bit differently on the subject. I absolutely love the C, D, XKSS, XK120, and other Jaguar cars. I will be perfectly honest. If I could get a replica car that looks identical to the original (or at least very close) to the original and I can get it made out of brand new parts and for considerably less money, I would overwhelmingly go for the new car, NOT the original. While the original is, well, original I guess, for me, in my opinion, would much rather have the newer car. I guess I am thinking along the lines that the parts and the car are brand new. I wouldn't want an original car that would have to be "pampered" and would cost excessive amounts of money to buy, repair, and keep running on the street. No way. Give me the replica any day of the week. I can drive the replica every day. The parts may be expensive because they may have to come from the maker of the replica at an elevated cost? Who knows, maybe an auto parts store would have most of what I needed to repair the car. I just want a car that I can drive any day I want, enjoy, and not have to worry about "babying" the car due to the age or significance of it being a "vintage" car. Replica is the way to go any day in my opinion. Even Jay Leno has "replicas". He has Pur Sang Bugatti's and Alfa Romeo's which are beautiful recreations that are about 10% of the original cost. Although his replicas are half a million dollars, they are still replicas and he can drive them every day if he wanted to. Even Jay says that the replicas are a value and in his opinion a better car in certain ways due to getting essentially a BRAND NEW car! Just as you would have gotten back when you bought the car in 1953 from the Jaguar dealer. It's just using modern day parts. And really.....is that a bad thing? No, I really don't think so. Sure, a Jag collector or "purist" would balk at you, or laugh at you, or stick their nose up at you (or me) but who really cares? As I start my engine, hear that wonderful "purrrrr" and throaty roar of the motor......I drive away with a big smile on my face, in my all new replica Jag. Yes sir....give me two please C type, and XK120 Fixed Head Coupe. Peace everyone.

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