Stunning Barra-powered Jaguar XJ-C debuts at MotorEx

Exclusive Customs have turned out an impossibly stylish, Barra-powered take on the Jaguar XJ-C

Photographers: Noah Thorley

Back in the day, people used to drop small-block Chevs into anything and everything – Jaguars included. In 2023, turbo Barras have become a go-to engine for repowering classic cars, so it was only a matter of time before someone dropped one into a Jag. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the scope of work for Hamish Davidson’s stunning `76 Jaguar XJ-C, which was unveiled today at Meguiar’s MotorEx in Melbourne.

“They made lots of the four-door version of this car, but not so many of the coupes,” said Hamish. “When I bought the car 20 years ago, I thought I’d build it as a daily driver. I flew down to Melbourne with my son, bought it and drove it back. I mucked around and tried to fix it up myself, but it just became a frustration and sat in the shed for 10 years. My wife told me to either fix it properly or get rid of it, and that’s when I found Jason, Glenn and Rick Coburn from Exclusive Customs.”

The Jag came from the factory with a 4.2-litre inline six, so dropping in a Barra made perfect sense. The team at Exclusive relieved the Jag of its aging Pommy lump and dutifully replaced it with a 310kW Barra from an FG F6. The engine is internally stock, but benefits from a Plazmaman intercooler and intake, so it will happily cop a bit more boost. The engine is beautifully detailed, with a custom machined finned rocker cover to emulate the look of the stock Jag motor.

The engine is backed by a ZF six-speed auto, and the Jag rear end was deemed up to the task. “Tom Walkinshaw was winning Bathurst with them back in the day, so we’ve just done some upgrades to that,” said Hamish. “We’ve re-done all the brakes and suspension all around, too.”

The paint and bodywork is razor-sharp, and the colour is an inspired choice that suits the car perfectly. “I’d always wanted one in British Racing Green, and Glenn found this version of British Racing Green and it’s gorgeous.”

The wheels too are inspired by Jaguars of old, modernised and embiggened to to accommodate larger brakes and tyres. “The original wheels that were available back in the 70s were a 15×5.5in, and I sent one off to Dragway and had them cut out some billet ones in 18.9.5in. They look exactly like the old originals, but they fill out the guards a lot better. In fact we had to pump the rear guards out a little to fit them”.

Brent Parker retrimmed the interior in Nappa leather, and with so many little customised and 3D-printed touches; he’s done an awesome job.

The first time Hamish laid eyes on the finished product was in Melbourne the day prior to the reveal, and it was a moment he won’t soon forget. “Rick told my wife that seeing the smile on my face was what gave him the most satisfaction; I was standing there grinning like a Cheshire cat,” said Hamish. “I’ve owned the car for 20 years and always thought about doing this and it’s finally a reality. You wouldn’t believe how great that makes me feel.”