Newsletter – October 2020

Neville takes a look back on the effect of Covid-19 and some of the recent car events of 2020: 

“The Show Goes On”

Two weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to be present on the manicured lawns of the wonderfully stately Blenheim Palace – a Palace that, for a week, was the temporary home of hundreds of rare, exquisite, unique and fabulously expensive cars. Home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture that boasts over 300 years of history. A more wonderful venue would be hard to imagine – but this was a gathering with a difference …. coming as it did, only days after the UK Government’s introduction of more stringent Covid-19 measures including the “rule of six”. Thanks to the foresight, carefully-planned and diligent Covid-aware measures executed by the organisers of Salon Privé, this landmark event was able to go ahead. The end result was a triumph and a shining example of how we can successfully navigate these necessary restrictions and continue to safely enjoy our shared passion.

We arrived at Blenheim on a sunny dry day. I (very noisily) drove our prototype-engined XJ13 re-creation to take up its spot on the lawn and was immediately taken by the majesty of the Palace forming the back-drop to this very special event. I have to admit to feeling humbled and honoured as I saw we were to share our part of the lawn at Salon Privé with illustrious marques such as Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, Koenigsegg, Lotus, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari to name a few. Then feeling even more privileged as helicopters and luxury boats were dragged into place around us!

The whole week that followed was one that will stay with me. As well as being able to see some of the most beautiful and special cars on the planet, I met and spoke with many wonderful people. Included amongst these were our neighbours Koenigsegg who couldn’t be any less polar opposites with their stunningly crafted modern cars and with whom we made a great bond.

It has always seemed to me that we are fortunate in our car-world. These cars are a great leveller, and objects that unite us in our common passion and interest – doesn’t matter if you are a Duke, pauper or something in-between, we all share the same enthusiasm. Sincere thanks to the organisers of Salon Privé for showing us all the way forward in these difficult times – special thanks to the tireless David Bagley, Poppy King and their team.

It was good to see this glimmer of light during these Covid-crazy times. I am blessed to have both my parents still living. Two of the most important people in my life. Mum is 102 Dad is 94. Married for over 66 years, they are inseparable and both in a Care Home that closed its’ doors to family & visitors back in March. It was so hard to try and help them understand they may not have any visits from us. Six months later they remain in lockdown and our allowed visits have been very sparse.
I know many more of you in the UK and overseas will be having similar experiences with loved ones all vulnerable to this new virus. You may draw some comfort from the fact that although both my parents contracted the virus in their Care Home during their enforced lockdown, with my 94-year-old father subjected to a brief hospital stay, they have now both fought off the virus and are now testing negative.

There is hope for us all.

As this pandemic spreads across our world, I am grateful for our UK National Health Service as it responds to this added pressure on its already overstretched resources. Our thoughts and support should be with doctors and nurses and all in the caring professions, who work to help and support people as best they can. Not just those in the front-line but also those working behind the scenes – testing samples, confirming results, giving information to patients. My thoughts go to those trying to understand this virus better and I pray for the creation of an effective remedy.

Regardless of our political persuasions, I believe we should steadfastly support those across Government and trust that, as they work with the best medical advice, they will lead us with wisdom on how we should respond and what actions we should take. This is something that SHOULD transcend politics, country and self. Sadly, this is not currently the case in certain parts of the world but I remain hopeful that this crisis will ultimately bring out the best in us, not the worst.

One of the first Classic/Collector Car Events in the UK post-Covid was the Honourable Artillery Company London Concours d’Elegance held in August. Determined to contribute to the resurgence of events such as this, we were delighted to be able to participate and show our prototype-engined 1966 Jaguar XJ13 re-creation. We were permitted to fire-up the engine during the Concours and the distinctive aggressive “bark” of this very special engine resounded around the Honourable Artillery Company in Central London.

The engine in the car is the very first Jaguar V12 ever to be heard in Coventry – 55 years
earlier. We also displayed our very own “tera” quad-cam V12 – an engine inspired by the
type of power unit which could have been heard howling down the Mulsanne Straight
at Le Mans in 1966 and beyond – more about this engine and our other projects later …

Long may events such as these continue and I look forward with optimism to the day
we finally consign Covid-19 to history.

My thoughts are with you all.


Competition Winner!! – Ticket Entry – Salon Privé 2020

Our competition winner was Mark Perl from Slough. Mark is a delightful and enthusiastic individual who caught my eye with his beautifully-written competition submission on “why I should be given a ticket”. Here’s what Mark had to say about his time at Salon Privé when I asked him which car that caught his attention. I hope that you agree that Mark once again came up with a beautifully compelling written piece:

Worth a King’s Ransom

The venerable Blenheim Palace in Woodstock once again provided a fitting backdrop for the 15th annual Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by AXA.
An eye watering selection of the most valuable, significant and highly prized classic cars, from the golden era of motoring, littered the manicured lawns of Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace. The rarefied atmosphere and visual feast combined to excite emotions, stimulate nostalgic memories and transport visitors back to a bygone era of style and elegance.

As the delighted winner of their recent competition I was privileged to join Neville Swales and his ‘Building the Legend’ team, as their guest, at this year’s event.

What a day it was!

But what parameters define a classic car’s value?

After one of the many showers which plagued the day, the car-detailing Elves, with their branded t-shirts and hydrophobic cloths, popped-up again, to transform their charges from water-beaded to beautiful. Notable among them was a sharply dressed and definitely unbranded young man, wiping-down his previously wet, now gleaming, clipper blue, four-seater, 1949 MG YT Tourer. One of only 877 export-only cars produced.

Probably the least financially valuable of all the cars, though most certainly no less gorgeous than the rest, there was clearly an interesting back-story here. On chatting with its engaging guardian, Dan, he told me the car had been the childhood dream of his late father, Daniel John McDonald, and his mother, the current owner, had received a personal invitation to exhibit it in the Concours d’Elégance…

After a lifetime of longing, Daniel sourced this car from Cyprus, hence it is one of the extremely rare factory right-hand drive examples, and shipped it back to the UK. Sadly, by the time it arrived, Daniel had passed away. The family decided to honour his memory and his dream by proceeding with the full restoration, at Bridge Classic Cars, to this impeccable standard.

When his father bought it the car had been in single-family ownership for three generations and Dan spoke enthusiastically of the ladies who lovingly reupholstered it, the skilled artisans who painstakingly restored it and, with gratitude, of the MG Car Club member who generously gifted them an original banjo steering wheel to help finish it off.

Finally, while showing me around his family’s treasured MG, Dan lifted the bonnet and proudly pointed at a plaque the restorers had thoughtfully installed in the engine bay, in memory of his late father and their client. It was moving. His only regret? That, due to the rain, he couldn’t put the roof down to show-off the car in its full glory.
By anyone’s estimation, then, this humble MG is worth a King’s ransom.

Why did it catch my eye? As a young college student my ride was a primrose, Jubilee Edition, MGB Roadster. Whilst I know those black-bumpered MGBs aren’t to everybody’s taste, I loved it and the marque will always bring back wonderful memories for me.

Mark Perl

Salon Privé wrap up:

Such a good time was had that we have already booked our place for next year and would be delighted to see friends, family and new faces there between the 1st – 4th September 2021.

What’s happening in our year ahead?

Introducing the tera®, Building The Legend’s own unique quad-cam V12 engine

The type of power unit which could have been heard howling down the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans in 1966 and beyond.

Why “tera”? Defined as “to the power of 12” and deriving from the Greek “teras” meaning monster. An appropriate name I think you will agree?

The tera® draws inspiration from Claude Baily’s (former Chief Designer, Jaguar) legendary quad-cam racing engine – an engine designed to return the company to its glory days of Le Mans triumphs and domination. A beautifully sculptural engine and unashamedly “of the period”.

Designed to be seen and with a purposeful beauty hinting at the power lying within. Sadly, the one-off car was destined to never turn a wheel in anger and the potential of Baily’s mighty power-unit was never fully realised. Instead, the company re-designed Baily’s racing engine into a SOHC version more suited to sedate applications.

In the words of the late Jaguar’s Walter “Wally” Hassan …

“…Between 1949 and 1957 Jaguar were actively involved in motor racing in order to create the sporting image for their cars. Amongst their successes were the winning of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in the years of 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956 & 1957as well as Sebring and other international races and rallies. These cars were powered by the six-cylinder XK twin-cam engine and it was thought to be desirable to develop a successor to compete in future races, particularly Le Mans… in order to provide the maximum potential in power, a 12cylinder ‘Vee’ configuration.. was conceived to provide for safe running at 8000-850 rpm. By way of comparison the 6 cylinder twin cam XK engine had been designed without racing in mind.

…during the development period it was decided to withdraw from racing and these policy changes eliminated the need for a competitive engine and emphasis shifted to the production (SOHC) version.”

Drawing inspiration from Baily’s V12 and other classic racing engines of the period, Building The Legend’s tera ® represents an evolution of Baily’s concept. A “what might have been”. An engine born to race but whose potential was never fully realised – until now …

The engine is of course normally-aspirated and drivers of these cars will gain the full visceral experience of a howling V12 race-engine. Distributor-less with choice of period Lucas Mechanical or Electronic Fuel injection. Safe running rev-limit of 8,000 to 8,500 rpm. Available from street-spec to full-race. Applications of this engine are limited only by your imagination!

Building the Legend can upgrade your Classic Jaguar! From a “refresh”, engine-swap, full-restoration and everything in between.

Learning from the Masters!
L to R Richard Hassan (ex Jaguar & Coventry-Climax), Paul Sharman (Production Manager, Building The Legend), Neville Swales (CEO, Building The Legend), Roger Nathan & Brian Martin (ex Jaguar)

Engine Specifications:

Capacity: 6.1 L (372 cu in); 6.8 L (415 cu in)
Bore x Stroke: 96 x 70 mm (3.8” x 2.8”); 96 x 78.5 mm (3.8” x 3.1”)
Power: 350 – 650 hp (261 – 485 kW)
Torque: 300 – 600 lb ft (407 – 813 Nm)
Compression: 12.7:1

2-valve, over-square architecture, duplex-chain-driven cams with convenient Vernier adjustment.

For details of pricing, specifications, applications and delivery, please contact:

Neville Swales
Building the Legend
Telephone: +44791 644 5253

Transform your Classic!

Karen Spencer joins our team as Director of Global Projects

Coombe Abbey and country park made perfect location to appoint Ms Karen Spencer as Building The Legend’s Director of Global Projects.

How lucky do we feel that this beautiful place is a mere stones throw from the workshop in Coventry.

Thank you to the staff for a lovely cup of tea, biscuits and the faultless management of social distancing in order to keep us all safe.

Quad-Cam powered S3 V12 Jaquar E-Type

We have embarked on a project to install our new engine in a series of V12 E-Types (roadster & coupe). Arguably the type of engine that SHOULD have been installed in the V12 E-Type and saloons at launch had not the cost-cutting SOHC V12 stood in the way!

Modified S3 V12 E-Type – regaining the restrained elegance of the early cars
Dry-fit in S3 V12 E-Type – no body mods needed whatsoever!

Our starting point for the coupe conversion is the relatively unloved and rather ungainly 2+2. We take the standard 2+2 and return it to a state more reminiscent of the earlier “more pure” cars. Attempting to regain the restrained elegance of the early 6-cylinder cars. Upgrades (besides installation of our mighty “tera”, include upgrades to braking, suspension and drivetrain).

The first coupe is currently in our workshop awaiting its dry-fit before paint and re-trim. The aim is to present the finished car before the end of February. Hot on the heels of this special car is a rather special V12 roadster which will also be equipped with the tera. Further cars are lined up to follow – if you would like to commission one of these very special cars and add your individual “stamp” to it just shout out!

But better be quick …

Other Projects (or at least the ones I won’t have to shoot you after I tell you of them)

We are excited at the possibilities our new tera V12 engine opens up. Whilst replacement of Jaguar’s SOHC V12 is an easy option (the engine drops straight in to all V12-engined Jaguars with practically no body modifications needed), the engine can also be installed in many earlier 6-cylinder Jaguars – E-Types included (albeit with engine-frame replacement). The tera offers a much “cleaner” installation than the standard V12 SOHC with its mass of plumbing and inaccessible components. Weighing in at less than 100 lbs more than the 6-cylinder XK engine, the tera represents a superb upgrade.

Enquiries have already been received for a tera-powered XK120, Mk10, Lowdrag and pre-existing Le Mans Prototypes. We have even had one from a power-boat enthusiast who asked if it would be possible to install a pair in his boat complete with turbos – after less than 30 seconds consideration, the answer was a resounding YES! Watch this space …

The engine is also reminiscent of those wonderful V12s powering cars such as Matra, Ferrari, Lamborghini and others from that 1960s/70s “Golden Age”. Replica anyone? …..

Planning for 2021

All being well with Covid…
If you are planning on going to any of these events do let us know.

Retro Mobile , Paris – We hope to attend the next Retro Mobile,
Valletta Concours, Malta
Monaco Classic, Monte Carlo
Quail / Monterey Car Week, California

“my hope is to get my little plan off the ground and to see the GT40, Ferrari etc run alongside the XJ13. We are in the process of lining up some publicity coverage and production house coverage so that we can share the experience with you.”

Salon Prive 2021, Blenheim Palace See you there!!

Your Views Please?

From an enthusiast’s viewpoint, what does our family of readers think of topics in the news that relate to our industry? Email (, Phone (+44791 644 5253) or contact via Facebook (

Spotlight: Workshop Crew

Spotlight on: Ryan Ganley
Position: Workshop Technician, Building The Legend
Based in: Coventry with his partner Kirsty

Congratulations to Ryan and his partner Kirsty on the birth of their bouncing baby boy. Kai who weighed in at 7lb13.5oz was born on 10th April. Ryan has been part of the team for the past 18months and by the looks of it Kai will join us also.

As we may have to wait for a little while before Kai can join us, so ….

We Are Recruiting

We are recruiting for two positions – an experienced Workshop Technician and someone who can grow with us (Day-Release may be possible).

Job specifications are now being sent out to those of you who have contacted us with interest in the vacancy roles. To remind you of the deadline of 31st October.

Email and she will be in touch from 1st October.

Thank you again to all of you who are our friends…

keep watching us on Facebook and Instagram!!

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