The storied Jaguar is revered for its handsome looks, comfort, and impressive engine power. The design evolution of the jaguar is a testament to the brand’s continuous motorsport success. Such careful craftsmanship deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and care. We at VIP European Auto could not wait to get our hands on this ‘54 Jaguar, and were up to the challenge of replacing its convertible top.
The Early Jaguar Days: 19 Years of Design Evolution
1922 – 1935
The first ever Jaguar was produced by the Swallow Sidecar Company. The business was founded by two friends: William Walmsey and William Lyons. You can probably guess from the original name that these two friends did not start out creating dynamic sports cars; they began by commercializing the production of motorcycle sidecars.
They began selling sidecars in1922 and then transitioned into the coachwork business in 1926. Walmsey and Lyons created three new models by 1929, and by 1933 expanded dramatically, taking over the coachbuilder Holbrook bodies and creating the new S.S. Cars Ltd. motor company in 1934.
In 1934, Walmsey stepped down from the S.S. Cars Ltd. motor company, after he and Lyons disagreed about the future of the company.
Later in 1935, the company produced their first ever four door sedan, including variations with four and six cylinder engines. The six cylinder engine was used in the SS100 sports car, and was often compared to the Bentley and Alvis brands.
The SS name ultimately did not last, as the vehicle’s immaculate balance of power and agility lent itself to a stronger metaphor: the fast and sleek jungle cat — Jaguar.
It can be argued that 1948 is the single most important year in automotive history. Landmark designs were created; many of which still influence car design today. At this time in history, the landscape was perfect for car makers, as World War II was drawing to a close, and the public was anxious for new and interesting possessions.
In 1948, Lyons designed the XK120 model in a matter of months, and managed to create quite a stir. Its dramatic design, twin-cam motor, and vertically ribbed oval grille were iconic aspects of the Jaguar that remained for years to come.
The Jaguar XK120 hosted a six cylinder engine that would be used for decades. It sold very well in the North American market, and grew a favorable racing reputation, winning often and solidifying Jaguar’s reputation as both affordable and wickedly fast.
Lyons understood the power of a popular racing vehicle in the eyes of the public, and he quickly realized what a strong marketing tool a successful racer could become.
1951 was a big year for Jaguar’s classic racer- the C Type. The C-type’s aerodynamic shape and lightweight design was created by the aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer. The C-type weighed 25% less than the previous models, and it was this mirroring of aerodynamic elements that allowed the Jaguar to win many races at Le Mans from 1951-53.
Engine: 3.4-liter, straight-six
Power: 205 bhp
Torque: 220 ft lbs
Transmission: Four-speed manual
Wheelbase: 96.0 inches
The D-type competition car is a standout to classic car lovers. It’s beauty has been said to be unparalleled, due in part to its Monocoque construction (aerodynamic inspiration), yet again created by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer. This model was constructed by countless hours in a wind tunnel, leading to its iconic fluid shape.
The D-type was built for one singular, ever-important purpose: to win Le Mans. Out of every iconic Jaguar model, it is this one that is esteemed in the history of competition racing, winning the 24-hour Le Mans race an incredible three times in a row.
D- Type Specifications
Engine: 3.4-liter, straight-six
Power: 250 hp
Torque: 242 ft lbs
Transmission: Four-speed manual
Wheelbase: 90.0 inches
We had the opportunity to work on this 1954 model!
Replacing the Top on a 1954 Jaguar
In many ways, owning a classic car is much like buying an older home. When you buy an older home, or a “fixer upper” as they are commonly referred to, you take on projects one by one until you’ve created your custom, dream living space. Classic cars often undergo the same process. It is impossible to fix absolutely everything all at once; the joy is in the journey. The end result? Priceless.
We were the only shop able to replace this ‘54 Jaguar’s convertible top, and we could not be happier to get the chance to work on this iconic vehicle. After hearing what the owner wanted, we meticulously removed the damaged convertible top and went to work. The hand-stitched top is one of our finest yet. .
The new convertible top is not only a masterpiece of craftsmanship; it is a lesson in design. The sand color chosen for the top compliments the mint green exterior, enhancing the car’s unique beauty without taking away from the iconic body style. The two colors blend in a harmonious fashion, mirroring the excellence of this timeless racer.
We at VIP European Auto understand that working on classic cars is an ongoing progress, and we’re willing to put in the time, time and time again. Our next project on this model is to fix up the interior carpet, restoring it as close to mint condition as possible. We take pride in turning our customer’s toughest problems into quality fixes and repairs.
Keeping Up Your Classic Car’s Convertible Top
Most classic cars will inevitably need some professional work done from time to time. However, here are some of our best tips for keeping up your car’s convertible top in between visits.
Vinyl Top Convertibles
Vinyl top convertibles are incredibly easy to clean. You just wash them along with the rest of your car like normal. If you’d like, you can invest in a brush long enough to reach the center of the convertible top to ensure a full cleaning, and be sure to use a car-safe, gentle shampoo.
If you’re looking to prolong the life of your convertible top for as long as possible, investing in a vinyl protectant is a must. Vinyl is highly susceptible to sun damage, but applying a protectant every few months can help minimize this issue.
Fabric Top Convertibles
Cleaning your fabric top is similar to vinyl top care: use some warm water, car-safe soap, and a brush. Be sure to rinse the fabric extremely thoroughly or you risk permanently staining the top.
A Quick Note
Always, and we mean always, ensure your convertible top is completely dry before you put it back down. Prematurely putting the top down can not only cause wrinkles, but mildew and water damage.
For more car maintenance tips, check out our article on convertible care and repairs!