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Talking past and present with Tim Hannig of Jaguar Land Rover Classic

At Techno Classica, Jaguar Classic premiered its new innovative restoration program, the E-type Reborn. Classic Driver spoke to Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, about the revival of these icons…

Like Range Rover Classic’s Reborn, which debuted at Rétromobile earlier this year, the Series 1 E-type Reborn is completely faithful to the original, built to factory specifications. The program has invested in a special workshop in Coventry, providing customers with greater support than ever. Tim Hannig has been with Jaguar Land Rover Classic for two years as the director.

Was the Reborn program created for new customers?

Certainly. We’ve been watching the classic car scene and have noticed significant changes. There is interest from different generations, along with more and more women getting involved, and the interest isn’t limited to just one region. We want to target future generations with Reborn, and at the same time, we want to make it easier for the customer to own such a vehicle by being more transparent.

There are recreations and then there’s Reborn, which can have a wide range of interpretations. How would you define the term "original" today?

We must distinguish between the two. We recently presented the E-type Lightweights, which have been built in small numbers as a continuation model, and they are only suitable for historical racing. With the Reborn series, we restore old cars, starting from the original base, and it’s quite clear these cars have been built so that they are fully functional and can be driven.

Do you have any new requirements with this all-round service from the Jaguar factory? No stress for the enthusiast?

(Laughs) They’re still older vehicles, which can have their own set of quirks. It’s a 60-year-old icon with its own idiosyncrasies. With Reborn, we use as many original parts as possible and can rebuild according to the original working procedures. However, we can utilise modern technologies to avoid typical creeping faults, like, for example, using new wiring harnesses to prevent cable breaks. This new programme is appealing to many customers who may have always wanted an E-type but are afraid of the lengthy research, evaluation, and restoration processes. We have taken these worries away, because, with us, the customer knows what he’ll get. We provide them security and take all the risk. Those who have not dared before can now go on a journey into the history of a great classic.

This E-type is immaculate. But what about the beloved patina that highlights the car’s history?

This is always a question for each individual customer. There is no right or wrong answer to me, but only a matter of personal preference. For Reborn, we find examples that are as original as possible, such as an E-type we recently discovered that has only 20,000 miles on the clock and is wonderfully preserved. We’ll update it mechanically, but not restore, because it’s perfect.

Why is there such a focus on maintaining the cars’ history? Was this a conscious decision?

Generally, the company is very successful at this, and the customers credit the efforts that have been made to retain as much history as possible on our new models. The two brands are deeply rooted in a great history, both on the racetrack and the road. Now, you could say that what we do at Classic is smart marketing, but our aim is to be sustainable. In other words, we must lead the charges in our field and build up enough volume that allows us to work cost-effectively.

One could debate that Jaguar Land Rover is now becoming a significant competitor in a field that has previously been dominated by specialised traders.

We certainly have not had enough business in the past with older vehicles. We’re working on it, but these things don’t happen overnight. This means that we could not support our dealers with spare parts. But now, we are creating a foundation, creating a business for traders that, in the past, has been lost.

What is your view of the current market situation?

We can see that the fascination with classics will continue in the future. They make people smile. But people always ask me what they should buy now, and my answer always is whatever you have the most fun with. Irrespective of investment and value growth, everyone should invest in what they personally like.

Photos: Frederik Dulay for Classic Driver © 2017 / Gudrun Muschalla

You can find a broad selection of classic Jaguars and Land Rovers listed for sale in the Classic Driver Market.