Packing a meaty supercharged V8 and a unique manual gearbox swap, Dale Masterman’s classic racer-inspired modified Jaguar S-Type R is the tastiest way to tear up the tarmac!
Feature taken from Fast Car magazine. Words: Dan Sherwood. Photos: Swallows Racing
When you think of tyre-shredding performance saloons most of us get images of brutish Bavarian autobahn blasters springing to mind. Cars like BMW’s brawny M5 or Mercedes understated yet ballistic E55 AMG. But the obvious kraut cruisers aren’t the only options for obliterating the national speed limit or scorching the asphalt of your favourite circuit – for the more discerning hoonigans out there, such as Dale Masterman, the marketing mogul of detailing gurus Meguiar’s, there is another, more elegant choice, one that hails from our own green and pleasant shores.
“To many people, the Jaguar S-Type is seen as a bit of an old man’s car,” laughs 32-year-old Dale. “The sort of thing you see wafting around the countryside on a sunny weekend with a grey-haired driver clad in string-backed gloves and a flat cap behind the wheel.”
And, in a way, he’s right. The S-Type was designed to hark back to the Mk2 of the sixties. It’s bold curves, central oval grille and quad headlights were all elements lifted straight from its swinging forebear. However, where the original was a coveted performance saloon, favoured by both the criminal underworld and police force alike – the former for its ability to effortlessly whisk a crafty tea-leaf and up to four other balaclava-clad henchmen away from the scene of the crime, the latter for its speed and poise to try and catch them – the S-Type has never really enjoyed such a desirable reputation, especially in its more mundane powerplant options.
“I’d always loved the look of the sixties’ original and felt that the S-Type was a great modern equivalent that could look awesome with a bit more attitude,” says Dale. “So when the big bosses at Meguiar’s tasked my colleague Tom and I to compete in another project car build-off, I knew exactly what car to choose.”
For those that have been living under a rock the last year or so, the original Tom Vs Dale modified showdown saw the pair of Meguiar’s marketing bods lock horns in an epic battle of the builds. Tom’s steed was a Skeete-kitted Renault 5 GT Turbo, while Dale’s weapon of choice was an air-slammed Mercedes Benz 220.
“The Merc ticked all the boxes for me and was modified to be low and slow with tonnes of retro cool,” Dale remembers. “That’s always been my style really, but with the latest competition I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and focus much more on performance.”
Which brings us back around to that slightly strange choice of motor. If he wanted a speedy saloon, why not pick a M car, or revisit his Mercedes roots?
“As well as having cool retro looks, Jaguar also built a version of the S-Type which came with a supercharged 4.2-litre V8,” Dale grins. “Called the S-Type R it packs 409bhp straight out of the box and was a genuine rival for anything that came out of Germany at the time.”
Needless to say, that is the very car that ended up in Dale’s possession and has been transformed into the bonkers creation you see here.
Originally a completely stock 2002 model in grey, Dale’s vision was to build a car that took inspiration from the classic Jaguar race cars that he’d seen blasting around the track at the Goodwood revival. And he knew exactly the place that could help him achieve his vision…
“Swallows Racing in Bristol are one of the country’s top Jaguar specialists that not only sell cars, but are also involved in numerous Jaguar race series competing with both modern and historic machinery,” Dale reveals. “So it was a no brainer to hook up with them to build the Jaguar S-Type R.”
Working closely with Swallows’ main man Tom Robinson, Dale concocted a recipe to add more than a hint of spice and a whole heap of race-inspired aggression to the Jag, and first on the list was sorting the suspension.
“My usual choice of suspension is to just slam the body as low as possible on air ride,” Dale confesses. “But as this was going to be a track car for the road, we went to suspension maestros Bilstein to see what they could do,” Dale says.
A custom set of two-way coilovers using uprated Eibach springs was created and means that the Jag can sit low enough to satisfy Dale’s tastes, yet also benefit from a wide range of damping adjustability to ensure it can tackle any track.
“The seats were next,” says Dale. “We needed more supportive seats for when the car will be driven on the limit on a circuit, and to also give the car a more race-inspired look and feel, so we went to Cobra to develop our own racing bucket seats.”
Based on Cobra’s FIA-approved Sebring fixed bucket design, Dale opted for black cloth with red accents and custom embroidery including his name on the driver’s seat and ‘Barry’ on the passenger seat, in honour of Meguiar’s president Barry Meguiar.
“With the Scroth harnesses the seats really hold you in place and, combined with the Motamec suede-rimmed steering wheel and the wild bolt-in custom rollcage made by Caged Laser Engineering, it really feels like you’re strapped into a thoroughbred racer,” reckons Dale.
But the car’s opulent leather and wood grain interior wasn’t the only standard part that found its way into the bin, as the stock 19in wheels were also due for an upgrade.
“I wanted a set of rims that evoked the feel of the classic racing wheels of the Jaguar D-Type speedster,” says Dale. “And to achieve this we designed a custom set with Midlands-based wheel experts Image.”
Measuring a girthy 9x19in at the front and 10x19in at the rear and shod with sticky Nankang AR1 semi-slick tyres, the new rims, complete with period knock-off hub nut spinners, allow for a much bigger footprint at each corner to give Dale maximum grip in the twisties. However, they were anything but a straightforward fit.
“We knew that the wider rims would never fit under the stock rear arches, so the car went off to bodywork specialists The Motor Works in Gloucester for a set of custom rear arches and a full respray in glorious British Racing Green with extra green pearl,” he remembers.
Looking at the pictures, it’s hard to tell that there’s been much in the way of body modifications to the Jag, as the finished product has been executed so well that it could’ve easily come from the factory that way, but they also add up to give a much cleaner and more menacing feel.
As well as the custom wider rear aches, which were made by grafting on the flared lips of a spare set of OEM front wings, the other subtle body mods include deleting the rear door handles, smoothing the bumpers, de-badging the front grille and removing the stock rear spoiler.
“I wanted to keep a classic feel for the bodywork and let the paintwork and the original lines do the talking,” Dale says. “Combined with the fatter wheels and the classic racing touches like the taped headlights, numbered grille and door roundel, I think it really works well.”
With the interior and exterior makeovers complete the Jag could be returned to Swallows where the team could work their magic giving this big cat some bigger, sharper claws.
“Being supercharged from the factory means performance gains can be made fairly simply by fitting a smaller supercharger pulley to gain more boost,” Dale smiles. “However, a remap of the ECU is also needed to ensure the fueling can be increased to match.”
As well as the pulley upgrade, Swallows also added a custom hardpipe induction kit with Pipercross cone filter, a set of racing injectors, a custom stainless steel exhaust system and a fully integrated racing ECU, mapped by The Tuning Shed.
“The result of the engine tweaks is a meaty 500bhp and 500lb ft of torque,” Dale confirms. “It’s a proper beast now and I can’t wait to be able to unleash it on the track!”
But even with 500bhp on tap, how much fun can you have in an sloppy-shifting automatic?
“That was precisely what Tom at Swallows was thinking too,” laughs Dale. “So to remedy the situation he and the guys decided to carry out a manual gearbox conversion.”
Unlike many other cars where swapping auto for manual is a regular occurrence, this particular conversion had never been carried out on a road legal S-Type before, so Swallows were breaking new ground.
The swap began by removing the stock auto ‘box along with the power-sapping torque converter before replacing them with a six-speed ZF manual gearbox from a diesel S-Type and a custom billet clutch and flywheel. The pedal box from the manual diesel S-Type was also used and modified to suit the new application, before programming the racing ECU to work with the new transmission parts.
“The Maxx racing ECU was an essential component for the manual swap,” says Dale. “The factory ECU is very dated now and would put the engine into low power limp mode if it didn’t detect the stock gearbox. But being fully customisable, the new ECU can run with the new parts no problem, however it was quite a challenge to get all the electronics to work together seamlessly and retain all the functions needed for road use too.”
And the result is simply awesome. Combined with the bespoke bodywork, the track-inspired interior and the muscular engine, the slick-shifting manual has transformed Dale’s Jag from an automotive aristocrat into a dapper street and circuit scrapper that turns heads wherever it goes, and that’s something to relish!
Tech Spec: Modified Jaguar S-Type R
4.2-litre, 8-cyl, 32v supercharged V8, custom hardpipe induction kit with Pipercross cone filter, uprated injectors, custom stainless steel exhaust system, Maxx racing ECU
500bhp+ 500lb ft+
6-speed ZF manual gearbox conversion from a diesel S-Type, custom billet clutch and flywheel
Two-way custom racing suspension developed by Bilstein UK with Eibach springs
Standard calipers with uprated Tarox F2000 discs and pads
Wheels & Tyres:
9x19in (front) and 10x19in (rear) custom Image wheels with 265/35/19 Nankang AR1 tyres (front) and 275/35/19 Nankang AR1 tyres (rear)
Full respray in British Racing Green with additional green pearl, gloss black mirrors, rear spoiler delete, badge delete, smooth bumpers, racing number in grill, custom rear arches using wider front wings, rear door handle delete, red tinted rear light clusters, custom racing graphics
Fully stripped, painted black with custom red bolt-in rollcage, Cobra Sebring bucket seat, Scroth harnesses, JVC KW-M565DBT double-din head unit and speaker system with slimline subwoofer, racing fire extinguisher, alloy footplates, retro Sparco crash helmet
Meguiarsuk for giving me the opportunity to build the car. Massive thank you to Swallows Racing for their huge contribution to the management and execution of the build. @thereal_patch for documenting the build! @sycographix, @themotorworks, @swallowsracing, @jaguarenthusiastsclub, @imagewheelsofficial, @tarox_brakes, @forgemotorsport, @cobraseats, @bilsteinuk, @theinstallcompany, @jvc_uk, @nankangtyreuk, @powerflexbushes, @fastcarmagazine, @clifford_uk, @cagedlaser, @players_shows, @EIBACH_SPRINGS_UK. @funkies_sihn_and_lines, @demontweeksperformance, @tuningshed, @lil_amy89