Custom Chev big-block powered 1962 Mark 10 Jaguar

You want to build a what out of a what? Dave Williams proves that thinking outside the box can yield amazing results

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

RECKON most of you didn’t know what kind of car this was at first glance. A ’49-’51 Mercury; maybe an early-50s Chev or a Hudson? Not even close. In fact, you’re not even on the right continent. What you’re actually looking at is a 1962 Mark 10 Jaguar.

This article was first published in the January 2020 issue of Street Machine

The secret to a good chop is getting the lines to flow smoothly from the roof, down the rear window and onto the boot. To achieve this, Dave used a ’50 Chevy ute rear window

Even with 19 body modifications, you can easily argue that this heavily customised example built by Queenslander Dave Williams retains its original elegance. In fact, you could even say he’s improved on it. It doesn’t matter which angle you look at the car from, there isn’t a single bad line or hiccup in the smooth flow from front to back. He’s got the stance just right and managed to do so using standard Jag suspension with just a couple of rear airbags.

The House Of Kolor Kandy Root Beer has been applied over a yellow base and really pops when the sun hits it

Jaguar suspension design was more than a little bit ahead of what was offered on Aussie cars back in 1962. Admittedly, Dave updated the front suspension to Series III to get slightly better brakes – though they already had disc brakes anyway – and out back is the renowned independent rear with inboard discs.

“The Mark 10s had the first independent rear end and they were pretty sought after for AC Cobra kit cars because they had a limited slip diff and were pretty tough,” Wiliams says. “The rear end has four coil-over shockies [two in front of the diff and two behind]. I fitted XJS springs, which were lighter, and allowed the car to go down as low as it could. Then I fitted ShockWave airbags in place of the rear shocks. The ride is unreal; it rides like a dream.”

One of the most challenging modifications was restyling the front. Normally a quad-headlight car, Dave built a custom grille opening, grafted a ’52 Chevy bonnet and narrowed a ’55 Chevy bumper and topped it with a ’52 Kaiser overrider to completely change the look of the car

The front end was a lot more straightforward. With a combination of heavy-duty King springs, a cast-iron big-block Chev and gravity, Dave got the ride height just right. It’s more akin to the stance of customs in the late 50s than the millennial craze of having the rocker panels dragging on the ground. It has an almost-level stance with a slight bias to the rear.

One significant difference between this Jag and some legendary customs is the number of fire escapes. There was no two-door version of the Jag, but Dave did a masterful job lowering the roof three inches and keeping all the proportions spot-on, as well as ensuring the front and rear quarter-windows still open and close. As with all roof chops, the secret is to get the line across the roof, down the rear window and onto the boot just right. You can’t just chop three inches out of everything and slam it back down. Well, you can, but it will look shit.

Williams initially tried to use the standard rear window, laying it forward and trying to make it work while retaining the standard twin fuel fillers at the top of the quarter panels just in front of the bootlid, but it wasn’t working for him at all.

Boot is trimmed out nicely and the twin fillers (for the twin tanks) moved inside. The box covers the air tank, solenoids for the airbags and the second a/c evaporator for the rear seat

“I had a single-spinner [’49-’50 Ford] that was a wreck; I cut all the rear window section out and was going to graft that into it, but it was totally wrong, so I ditched that idea. I had a look at a ’50 Chev ute that was sitting in the shed and thought that window had a bit more potential, and I knew there was one out at the local wreckers that was totally stuffed, so I went out and cut it out about three inches around the window opening, and the entire section was grafted into the Jag.”

It’s only right that under the Chevy bonnet sits a 454 BBC. It’s no slouch either, with Grumpy Jenkins heads, an 860 Edelbrock carb and XE265 Comp Cams camshaft

It sounds pretty straightforward, but Williams still had to shape up new C-pillars and the scuttle panel between the back window and boot opening, relocating the fuel fillers into the boot in the process.

When it comes to custom cars, the roof chop is quite often a major and defining feature, but with Dave’s Jag, there was more time and effort put into the design and fabrication of the front-end styling. They often say that form follows function, and that was part of the decision-making when it came to the radical restyling at the front of the Jag.

“I was originally looking for a ’49-’50 Merc, but because I’d had Jags before and kind of knew what they were about, I thought the Mark 10 lent itself to that style, but would be a lot less work – you’ve got decent suspension to start with! I wanted that 50s-style custom, so I got a ’52 Chevy bonnet and grafted that in. There’s probably a two-inch strip of the original bonnet on the edges and about four inches at the back.”

That was the easy part done, but now he faced another roadblock as he tried to figure out what to do about the grille.

“I had the bonnet done and was mucking around with an FC Holden grille, but nothing was jumping out. I met artist Aden Jacobi at Asphalt Demons and we chatted about what I was doing. I wanted to recess the grille, and after he did a few drawings we got closer to what I was looking for. I then cut the handle off my compressor, as it had the perfect radius for the top corners.

“That gave me something really solid to work from and a bit of direction, because I was a bit bamboozled on how to finish the front, but once I put that piece of steel tube in, I was good to go. It gave me something to bring the bonnet down to.”

The interior is amazing and remains essentially stock, although the black knobs and wheel have been redone in ivory white. Dave had the walnut veneer redone on the dash, and an XJ40 J-gate shifter replaces the original column shift

As with all good customs, it’s also about what you don’t change. In line with Jag’s original concept, there still isn’t any flamboyant decoration or purposeless embellishment. The car still wears all four of its door handles because they are such a beautiful pieces of jewellery and located in a part of each door where they don’t distract the eye.

Even the interior retains all the luxurious appointments (although Williams did limit the polished walnut to just the dashboard), but the original steering wheel, switches and gauges now wear a coat of ivory white for a bit more of a custom look.

The final piece of the puzzle was settling on a paint colour, and Dave tossed around a few ideas before settling on HOK Kandy Root Beer.

“It was going to be flat black with gloss black flames, but everybody said that was too dated. Then I was going to go gloss black, but then a mate who is a painter said: ‘Nah, you’ll regret the day, it’s just too hard to keep clean.’ I saw a picture of a Cadillac in the States and it had this Kandy Root Beer on it and I thought, wow, that looks pretty cool.”

The Kandy Root Beer is applied over a straight yellow base. Dave tried it with the recommended Orion Silver base but wasn’t keen on how it looked in low light: “I’d seen an XP Falcon with the same colour painted over Orion Silver, and inside the pavilion it looked black. With my car, in low light it still retains a browny-gold look and in the sun it just pops.”

Regardless of what colour he chose, it still would have been one of the nicest customs ever built in Australia. The fact it isn’t based on a car from the US makes it even cooler.

Unfortunately though, Dave has upset a few people: “I did take it to a Jag show. That wasn’t good; they didn’t get it at all, but I didn’t think they would.” That’s most definitely their loss.


Paint: HOK Kandy Root Beer over yellow base

Type: 454ci big-block Chev
Inlet: Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap
Carb: Edelbrock 860cfm
Heads: World cast-iron Grumpy Jenkins
Valves: 2.30in (in), 1.88in(ex)
Cam: Comp Cams XE265
Pistons: Ross 10.5:1
Crank: Scat
Conrods: Shot-peened
Radiator: Aussie Desert Cooler
Exhaust: Custom stainless extractors and twin 2.5in exhaust
Ignition: Accel

’Box: Turbo 700
Diff: Standard IRS with LSD

Front end: Series III, lowered King Springs
Shocks: Koni (f), Koni coil-over and ShockWave airbags (r)
Steering: Standard
Brakes: Series III four-piston (f), standard inboard discs (r)

Rims: Jag 15×6 (f & r)
Rubber: American Classic wide whitewall; 195/75/15 (f), 225/60/15 (r)

John White Race Engines; James White; Martin White; Paul Huett; Wooroolin Panel & Paint and Brennan Fuller-Sandys; Shane Le Grand; Tom Williams; Von Hot Rod and Kyle Smith; R&S Fine Trims; Jimmy’s Auto Trimming and Jamo’s; my brother Graeme and my mates; Aden Jacobi; Graeme Townsend