Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
Conceived as a luxurious and long-legged Grande Routière, the XJ-S, though by no means a small car, afforded precious little in terms of interior space: two adults and an overnight bag being about the limit if its comfortable capacity. In the absence of a factory 'estate' it was left to the Hastings-based restorer and coachbuilder Lynx to exploit the model's full potential. Lynx had every reason to be confident that such a market existed, given the success of the 'sports estate' concept in the form of the Reliant Scimitar GTE and Lancia Beta HPE. In reconfiguring the XJ-S, Lynx extended the roof, moved the rear seats back, repositioned the fuel tank and added a tailgate, thus providing increased passenger leg room and an impressive 23.75cu ft of load space with the seats up, 39cu ft with them folded flat.
In the 1980s, Paolo Gucci decided to build a limited edition car with matching luggage as a Gucci branded item, and commissioned Lynx to manufacture it. The first of the proposed 20 Jaguar XJ-S cars to be customised, that offered here was launched as the 'Lynx Designo Di Paolo Gucci'. For the interior Paolo specified blue lacquered burr elm woodwork with inlaid chevron cross banding; modified instrument dials; the finest hand dyed Italian calfskin upholstery; crocodile effect armrests; blue-stained ash door handles; and an Alcantara suede headlining. The steering wheel was trimmed in hand stitched leather and inlaid with semi-precious lapis lazuli stones, which also featured in the gear knob. The designer's statement was completed with a distinctive specially woven Jaguar motif in the carpeted boot.
Brochures were printed and a set of Jaguar Gucci accessories created. Beneath representations of the four available colour schemes, Paolo Gucci wrote: "After 20 years as design director and product co-ordinator of Gucci, I am now bringing my knowledge and talent to a wider spectrum of the consumer market. Now, designing entirely under my own name, I intend adding my personality and style. I hope with my 'Firenze' tradition, my zest, enthusiasm and dedication to quality, to continue to present the finest design to discerning consumers."
Finished in true Gucci style, the XJ-S was displayed by Paolo at the 1990 Geneva Motor Show with a price tag of £100,000, only to fall foul of legal wrangling within the fashion company's business empire. After the show's second day all Gucci branding was taken down and the stand re-branded as Lynx. Sadly, the car remains a one-off, as the Gucci company's lawyers successfully claimed that Paolo had no right to use its name to endorse the product. Paolo, who owned a mansion in Rusper, Sussex, subsequently sold the Gucci Eventer to the late David Andrew Richards (hence the numberplate) and later tried – unsuccessfully – to buy it back.
The Gucci XJ-S had been hidden away for many years, rarely seen, when it was offered for sale by David Richards' daughter at Bonhams' Oxford auction in December 2014 (Lot 308) where it was purchased by Jaguar enthusiast Ian Berg, owner of Complete Classic Car Solutions. To undertake its restoration, Ian tracked down two people who had originally worked on the Gucci Eventer: Gordon Russell, who runs specialist Jaguar body restorer IDL UK in St Leonards, Sussex, and Phil Gould of Concept Trimming in Bideford, Devon. IDL undertook the bodywork restoration, stripping the car back to the metal and re-doing all the lead loading prior to repainting, while Jaguar specialists XJK in Stoke-on-Trent were entrusted with the mechanical refreshment. Re-creating the special interior was out of the question - costing around £50,000 it would have been uneconomical - so it was decided to restore the original, a necessarily painstaking process that involved re-lacquering the burr elm veneers and spending hours matching the colours and glossing agents to the non sun-bleached areas of the leather upholstery. The full story of the Gucci Eventer's creation and rebirth is covered in detail in Octane magazine's July 2016 edition.
The current vendor purchased the Gucci from Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in June 2016 (Lot 283). Since then the car has been serviced and MoT'd annually; driven sparingly, it has covered only a few hundred miles over the last six years. Described in its day as 'the ultimate in flash', this unique Jaguar is offered with a V5C registration document and a notebook bearing the legend 'Disegno di Paolo Gucci'.
This Lot has been withdrawn from the sale.
Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
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