The Gore family rebuilding C-type Jaguars – and selling them at a premium

by Ken Downie / 20 October, 2018
Brian Dwyer with wife Susan, who's part of the small, hands-on team at the Gore workshop. Photo/Ken Downie

Brian Dwyer with wife Susan, who's part of the small, hands-on team at the Gore workshop. Photo/Ken Downie

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It was a near-miss with an E-Type in the 1980s that first got “Jag nut” Brian Dwyer hooked.

He was working in Alexandra as a panelbeater when one came in for a crash repair. “The guy offered to sell it for $3000, but my boss talked me out of it,” recalls Dwyer. “Years later, I found out that seller didn’t even own it; it was his brother’s car. So that might have all turned rather ugly.”

Life later took an unexpected turn when his wife, Susan, treated him to a ride in a Tiger Moth from the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre at Mandeville, a 15-minute drive from Gore. Within six months, the family had relocated and he was working there, fabricating replica de Havillands.

After making planes, building a car didn’t seem such an impossible dream. So, in 2002, Dwyer began construction of a C-Type Jaguar, producing a street-legal replica down to the last detail. “We clocked up 8000km before someone came along, bought it and took it straight off to Bathurst. We made another and that got snapped up too, so we made another and another…”

Some 28 C-Types later, Coventry Classics is now a family business employing seven people, including his wife and two of their children. Priced from $170,000 and destined for buyers in the UK, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the cars are crafted from scratch in Dwyer’s Gore workshop; what can’t be made is rustled up from a treasure trove of vintage Jaguars out back. And powering each one is a Mark VII or XK120 engine, completely reconditioned by business partner Mark Paterson at Taieri Aerodrome in Mosgiel.

Designed by Jaguar in the early 50s to race at Le Mans, only 42 C-Types made it into private ownership. Today, they fetch millions at auction. “They’re simply amazing cars to drive,” says Dwyer.

“You can drive the hell out of one of these if you want to. There’s nothing like it.”

This article was first published in the October 2018 issue of North & South.

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