Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Just after a roundabout in Castle Bromwich, Warwickshire with a sculpture full of RAF Spitfires, you'll catch sight of The Leaper. This single plant is where all Jaguars are made.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • We have a feeling it didn't look like this when the plant was built in 1938 to produce Spitfires and Lancaster bombers. 12,000 Spitfires and 350 Lancasters were produced before the end of the war, after which the plant stamped panels for Triumphs, Morris', Austins, Nash Metropolitans and even the bodyshells for the original Mini.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • No one at the factory could tell us why the factory (and the surrounding area) is called Castle Bromwich, and we found at least three explanations online. No matter - the stats are: 112 acres, three stamping plants doling out aluminum (60%) and steel (40%) parts, buildings for  body-in-white building, paint, trim and final assembly, 2,500 people on site working three shifts to produce about 1,700 units per week.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • The first stop in C Block, the body fabrication building, is to see this cutaway of a polished aluminum XJ. C Block is 232,737 square feet and houses 110 robots working on 17,400 cars per year in four variants (standard, LWB, RHD, LHD).

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Sing along with us: this is how we rivet a Jag, rivet a Jag, rivet a Jag, this is how we rivet a Jag so early in the cold, wet, gray Midlands morning...

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • A look at the self-piercing rivets (on their blue feeder ribbon, inset). There are 3,117 such rivets on the standard XJ, 3,153 on the LWB. Each rivet sandwiches between two to four layers of 5,000-, 6,000-, or 7,000-series aluminum, and the end of the rivet never pierces the bottom layer. In total, there are 590 fasteners in 40 different flavors on an XJ, as well as 154.3 meters of three different kinds of adhesive.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Data sheets, anyone? We were told these walls of graphs, at various places in the factory, were introduced by Ford when The Blue Oval bought Jaguar in 1989.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Obviously, English factory workers aren't all that different from our own...

  • Thirteen percent of the rivets in an XJ are done by hand, for smaller components, the other 87 percent applied by machines. A total of 289 metal parts are assembled in C Block.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Because the XJ is aluminum, one worker can carry the outer bodyshell by himself, easily. The LWB body-in-white weighs 329 kilograms (725 pounds), the SWB shedding five kilos from that.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Monitors sit outside robot pens and in control rooms where workers can make sure they're applying adhesive and rivets properly.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Each XJ body-in-white carries a barcode on the front chassis crossmember. Castle Bromwisch is a just-in-time facility, so everything has to be in its proper place at its proper time or everything goes pear shaped.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Highlight inspection beds are the penultimate stop in C Block. If any blemishes are found, they're circled and written down in a compendium called The Bible.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • The last stop is to see old-timey sheetmetal workers who fix any of the errors noted in the inspection bed. The last stop of every building is called Customer Acceptance, where workers inspect every XJ as if the next facility were their customers, to make sure they only pass on the kinds of cars they would want buyers to be proud of. The "customers" for this building will be the paint shop.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • There are vestiges of the site's past everywhere, including this drain box above the door outside F Block, final trim and assembly: the Vickers wings. Vickers was the engineering and aeronautics firm that owned, among other things, Supermarine, the makers of the Spitfire. Other buildings still wear faded camouflage to escape the sights of German WWII bombers.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Next to the door at F Block was this, a vintage, concrete torture track.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Before you even get into the final assembly area you see this, the application of the top glass section of the XJ's panoramic roof. On the left, the painted body rolls in backwards; upper right, the glass roof is centered in the robot's grips; lower right, the metal edges of the top are then briefly sintered. 

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • On the left, adhesive is applied to the underside of the roof, and on the right, it is laid on the body.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • This is what every U.S.-market Jaguar looks like under the skin - we only get the 5.0-liter engine, plus or minus the supercharger.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Martha Stewart provides Jaguar's exhaust-tip cosies.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • The cat's meow - or growl - goes here. And we were kidding about Martha Stewart...

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • There are three wheels from which to choose, and as an example of just-in-time building, the next four wheels in line are meant to be an exact match for the sedan waiting at the station. Let's roll.

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • Full diameter but narrow-width spares. The DHL tag is Jag's just-in-time secret: the German shipping company attends to all of the logistics, delivering parts when and where needed. Once these rims are put in the trunk, the cat gets a final caress, a little bit of gas, then it's off to the docks...

  • Scenes from Jaguar XJ production at Castle Bromwich
  • And then it's time for a cuppa, innit?


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