Is JLR tarnishing its brand?
A number of our readers worldwide have asked for an update on the JLR / C-type replica / IP situation.
In the last few weeks some further interesting information has come to light with the assistance of various people who have been involved in the Jaguar scene for many decades.
Below we have information on the Norman Dewis Edition D-type and fascinating comments from Guy Black, founder of the legendary Lynx company and a major player in the Jaguar heritage scene in the past.
For several decades the main company specialising in C-types and D-types in the UK was indeed Lynx, and the equivalent individual in the USA was Terry Larson. Terry became close friends with Norman Dewis.
‘Norman entered into an agreement,’ states Terry, ‘with a company that had plans to build a car in his name. I have attached the brochure. I believe I have a copy of his contract... I don't recall Norman ever mentioning if the factory was aware of this agreement or not.
‘Today, I expect JLR would want a piece of the action with Norman or try to block it. I could just hear Norman telling them to "bugger off"!’
Founded by Guy Black, who was later joined by Chris Keith-Lucas, Lynx had been specialising in restoring C-types and D-types for some time but their profile was raised considerably when they launched their Lynx D-type replica. Guy, who has been specialising in restoring historic aircraft for many years, has recently heard about the way JLR are behaving and, like so many worldwide, is incandescent. He was moved to write the following and has given me permission to quote:
‘I am the founder of Lynx Engineering, which also encompassed The Lynx Motor Company, Lynx Motors International and subsequent names of which I am not familiar with now.
‘I started the business in 1968, and was initially concerned with restoring historic competition Jaguars including the D-type, XKSS, C-type and Lightweight E-types. Within a few years we also constructed replicas of the C-type and D-type Jaguars for commercial sale.
‘I had numerous contacts through correspondence and meetings with F.R.W. ‘Lofty’ England, CEO Jaguar Cars Ltd., and Phil Weaver [former Superintendent of the Competition Dept] amongst others. These gentlemen supported our company with C-type/D-type/LW E-type parts and drawings from the early 1970s. The use of these drawings had no restrictions attached to them and we were free to use them in the prosecution of our normal everyday business, of restoring competition Jaguars and manufacturing our replicas of these cars. The Jaguar car company not only was aware that we were constructing replicas, but actively condoned this, through these individuals (and others, such as Andrew Whyte, after Mr. England retired). We were regularly invited to bring our cars up to Jaguar open days as, at that time, Jaguars did not have their own extensive collection of historic vehicles.
‘As far as I can recall, there were more than 1,000 drawings all together and we made a schedule (list) of all drawings with part number, description, model, size and date. I sold my interests in the company in 1989, but as far as I know these drawings were still in Lynx (continuation companies) possession when Neville Swales later disposed of the Lynx assets on behalf of then owner Nigel Forsyth. During my ownership numerous articles, advertisements and other forms of publicity about our activities were freely available and never did we receive any contact from the factory of our being in breach of their protected trademark, but there again we never pretended we were remanufacturing Jaguar cars or parts of cars.
‘In my ownership up to 1989 and as far as I understand beyond, there was not the slightest hint of any issues with our work being in breach of copyright or Jaguar’s registered design and I am incredulous that this issue has arisen today. All we had was enthusiastic support.’
I will finish with a few final comments.
My good friend Les Hughes, who publishes the excellent Jaguar Magazine in Australia and is also incandescent about JLR’s behaviour, has brought me up to speed with JLR’s new policy entitled Reimagine. It is M. Bolloré’s intention that Jaguar becomes all-electric by 2025 and that it will in future target Bentley and Porsche, rather than BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. I can’t help wondering what will happen if electric cars suddenly go out of fashion – will each country create sufficient charging points, how will they generate that much electricity, how will old batteries be disposed of, how do you move ‘dead’ electric cars held up for hours on motorway congestion… Jaguar were disastrously late to the party with diesel, and then ‘diesel’ became a ‘dirty’ word.
Furthermore, if JLR are to reduce production dramatically and go seriously upmarket, is not brand all the more important? Don’t Bentley and Porsche trade off the strength of their brands? Should not, therefore, JLR management be mindful of the enormous harm they are doing to their brand worldwide currently? This current scandal is not going to go away. It can only build and ferment.
Finally, privately, some JLR senior managers have expressed the view that the company’s behaviour is insane and self-destructive. But they dare not state anything in writing or publicly for fear of their jobs.