Henry Ford once said, that auto racing begins minutes after the second car is built. Nowhere is this more the case, than sitting behind the wheel of Building The Legend’s latest E-Type Jaguar.
When I first set eyes on the car, I was overwhelmed with a euphoric sense of nostalgia, that cast me back to the classic years of racing. It was as if I was revving up at the start line of the 1966 Le Mans. The car’s sleek design aesthetic entices you to take in every detail, from the sage green bodywork, to the eyecatching wheel spokes. Glimmering in the sunlight, the car creates its own angelic glow. The rich tan leather interior and smooth-lined passenger and driver cockpit, entice you to take a closer look. The contrasting material textures, polished wood wheel, striking dashboard and off-centre handbrake meanwhile, whisper “unleash the power within.”
Neville comments: “Many years ago, I became enraptured by the Jaguar XJ13. It was designed to take Jaguar back to Le Mans and relive the glory days of the 1950s. That car was powered by Jaguar’s first-ever V12 - the “quad-cam”. The intention had been to enter a team of quad-cam-powered cars at Le Mans and then use that same engine in their luxury saloons and sportscars. Sadly, that was not to be, the XJ13 never raced and Jaguar instead turned to a lesser single overhead-cam version of that engine.” Neville decided to re-create his own engine, the “tera”, inspired by Jaguar’s mighty “quad-cam” and retro-fit it to the cars that should have been powered by that engine - including the Jaguar E-Type.
He adds: “There isn’t another model with the same colour combination and certainly not this elegant shape which recaptured the simplicity and elegance of the first cars - combining it with the excitement of the “tera” quad-cam, as well as the creature-comforts expected in a current luxury car. Comforts such as electric windows, satnav/bluetooth, aircon, central-locking - the list of options is endless. The wheels are handmade in the UK. The additional spokes handle the extra torque of the tera. We’ve much bigger vented discs too with bigger brakes - these stop as smoothly as they go.”
The car’s true beauty however, is revealed on opening the bonnet. Neville enthuses: “I was able to build and produce my own engine, inspired very much by Jaguar’s original version. Nowadays, we have the benefit of technology and CAD, so I’ve been able to deliver something altogether different – I call it the tera from the Greek word teras, which means monster. We have two versions, which we are retrofitting for almost any car. We even have the V12 in both 6.1 and 6.8 litres format.”
The care and passion that have gone into crafting the engine, become evident from the moment you get behind the wheel. There’s no greater feeling than seeing the open road stretching ahead and hearing a lusty roar as you put your foot on the accelerator, a low-resonance growl that continues, enticing you to follow the track unfolding ahead of you.
Neville adds: “I wanted to bring back that excitement, when you hear and feel the driving experience. It’s like having a Supermarine spitfire in the garage.”
The engine boasts strong environmental credentials too. Designed to run on new synthetic fuel, which takes atmospheric carbon dioxide and breaks down water into constituents, to combine and produce a fuel that runs the car. It’s genuinely a carbon-neutral product which still allows us to experience the majesty of a large-capacity internal-combustion engine, while remaining kind to the environment. Each Building the Legend car is unique to reflect the personality of the owner. If, for example, you want a Louis Vuitton interior, consider it done. You’ll never see another one like it. Neville adds: “It’s like having a classic vintage car from the 1960s, that you can drive on the road today, in optimum style, comfort and safety.”
Neville concludes: “We operate from a small unit in Coventry. Whatever we do, it’s with a client’s aspirational goals in mind. Cars are a wonderful leveller. We go through the design and build journey. Take, for example, the E-type seat fitting. We handmake the seats bespoke to the client, so that the pedals are in the correct position and the wrist falls where the gear lever is, which is the precision part I love.”
“We also undertake car restorations, servicing and maintenance. I’ve been blessed that a good many of my customers, owners of the XJ13 Le Mans Prototypes, that we also produce, have become firm friends.”