A 60 year tea break with Phil Harwood

Phil Harwood, is one of the lead engineers behind the epic new (yet original) Jaguar XKSS. I managed to grab a few moments of his time before he took the ‘World’s first Supercar’ out of the Archibald and Shorter’s showroom and onto a very sodden Auckland road – A 1 million pound 1957 (2017) in rush hour traffic – surprisingly, he didn’t look at all nervous!

With over 6 years with Jaguar/SVO (was part of ETO – Engineered to order previously) and worked on the 6 lightweight E-types project prior to taking the reins on the XKSS.

Is this a new or old car?

(He laughs) It’s the final part of the original 25 vehicle order. Due to the fire there were 9 left to do. We worked off the original blueprints and hand built them using old school techniques. It’s technically a new car, but not road legal as such as it’s not been crash tested etc for obvious reasons. Maybe we should have gone down the route of calling it a 60 year tea break.

So this was car number 2?

Well technically it’s number three – we built ‘car zero’ (the car displayed in America) as a template for the rest.

Was it as hard to do as it looks?

Yes, and no. We had to make everything from scratch.  We made parts from the original blueprints but many didn’t fit. Maybe, they made adjustments after and didn’t update the records. We took a lot of learnings from the lightweight E-types project and used them on this. It does have a modified the fuel cell and now has a modern battery.

So how long did it take to build?

It took about 3 months build time, zero took longer and we are getting faster as we go. We are also working on the others in the meantime too.

Are you going to build any more (after the 9), using modern day techniques?

No, we’re building 9 cars and that’s it

What’s the new SVO facility like?

It’s massive. (20,000 square metres). Before there were 12 different locations all over the midlands, but now it’s all under one roof. But it still takes a while to get around.

I managed to grab a quick word after his NZ road drive (both car and driver returned safely)

So what’s it like to drive?

It takes a long while to warm up, the clutch is heavy, the accelerator is literally on or off and the steering is very heavy.

So in a word – brilliant?

He simply smiled and nodded

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