With thanks to Arden.de for the raw info.
The Jaguar XJ12 was 25 years old and on it's second facelift when Jochen Arden gave the grizzled old cat a new lease of life, fashioned it a trendy 80's shell suit and called it the Arden AJ1.
In 1982 Jochen Arden signed a dealership contract with Jaguar and opened a new showroom. In December of that year, he presented the first modified XJ12.
The presentation of the Arden AJ1 in Essen during the Jochen Rindt show generated quite a lot of attention and discussion. The title of the German Rally Racing magazine in December 1982 was “Can you improve a Jaguar”. For the first time a German tuner had ventured outside the usual comfort zone of taking on one of the usual indigenous marques and took on a improving an untouchable English car; a car thought by many to be too tough a task to achieve the 'right' look with. Well they did, and the result was acclaimed worldwide. Thus began the success story of Arden Jaguar.
Later that year, a contract was made with Duncan Hamilton in England and in 1984 the Beverly Hills Motoring Company in Los Angeles, both to provide Arden-converted Jaguars. In 1985, Arden founded the Arden Automobilbau GmbH and presented a pioneer achievement at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt, the first full Jaguar convertible since the legendary E-Type, the Arden AJ2 Cabriolet, based on the XJS. As an endorsement for how good their work was, Arden received registration and recognition as an outright automotive manufacturer in Germany.
|Standard Jaguar seats in this AJ1; all-elecric Recaros were an option|
In 1986, Arden Japan Ltd was founded and a cooperation contract with Jaguar Germany was made, both events helping the company to reach new heights. In 1987 the XJS-based AJ3 estate was presented and the expansion into Asia was made with the foundation of the Arden Taiwan Ltd. In 1988 the XJ40-based AJ5 twin turbo was presented at the Auto Salon in Geneva, which in the following year was complemented at the Birmingham Motor show by the foundation of Arden Automobilbau AG, Switzerland and the presentation of a further vehicle, the AJ6 2+2 Coupe at the IAA. This was an XJS with modifications to remove the rear 'buttresses', a move that arguably improves the looks.Arden still applies its craft to the latest Jaguar range, such as the XF (AJ21) and XJ (AJ22); they've even added the Land Rover, MINI and Bentley ranges to their portfolio.
Back to the car that started it all, the AJ1, based on the Jaguar XJ12. The AJ1 was not only outwardly changed; the Arden magic extended to the mechanical parts. The modifications included new rolling stock (16 inch Rial or Remotecs, or in the late 80's Arden's own design) and chassis changes, with new springs and dampers. A new high-performance exhaust system improved the engine's breathing to the tune of 16bhp, but that was only the start of the tuning.
Arden developed a range of tuned V12s for the XJ; the top engine being a 6.0 litre beast that produced 455bhp (the standard 5.3 litre lump produced 310bhp). New transmissions were available as well, replacing the factory 3-speed auto; a 5-speed Getrag manual and later on a 4-speed ZF-automatic, which was used in the Daimler Double Six-based AJ4.
The look of the early Arden Jaguar XJ's followed the same train of thought to that of what
AMG, Brabus and Lorinser were doing to Mercedes-Benzes at the time, like blacked out chrome on the grille and door handles. Arden produced a body kit which included new front and rear bumpers and side skirts to complement the new wheels. The end result is a dramatic change of image for the XJ; surprising considering that the metalwork is completely standard.
|The same car from Arden's promotional material in 1983|
The white car here (from Arden's own collection) has has no doubt whetted your appetite for one of your own. Well, finding an original one may well be possible, but Arden still supply all of the parts and will perform the conversion for the right price. Now thats a tempting prospect.
- Mr Fabulous