Ever wondered how a modern British sports car such as the Jaguar F-Type is made? We were recently lucky enough to be given access to the car’s production line at Castle Bromwich. Photos are not normally allowed at the facility, but Jaguar were kind enough to allow us to document our visit for the site.
The Jaguar F-Type body and chassis is built almost entirely out of aluminium, so the first job is to fasten together the various parts of the chassis, and to fabricate the body panels before attaching them to the chassis and assembling the main structure of the car. The chassis parts are delivered to the factory pre made, where they are put together using rivets and a super strong adhesive. The rivets that Jaguar use are a new type designed to sit flush with the surface of the part, rather than protruding like traditional rivets.
Forming the body panels from sheet aluminium can be quite tricky, as aluminium has a tendency to “spring back” into its original shape. Jaguar therefore uses huge cast iron moulds called press tools that weigh up to 50 tonnes each, which are used to press the aluminium blanks into specific shapes such as a bonnet. The hydraulic press exerts a force of around 2,500 tonnes to press the aluminium into its correct shape. The press tools are positioned in stages along the production line, placed there by special cranes fitted to the roof in the factory. Robots are then able to move each aluminium panel from one press to the next. It can take several presses to finish a panel, as it is not advised to put too much stress on the aluminium blanks in one go.
The developing body panel is passed through more stamps to trim off any excess aluminium and also to cut out any holes required for fixings. Each panel is then inspected by hand for any defects that may have occurred during the manufacturing process. Once satisfied, a team of workers then attach the body panels to the car using the same adhesive and riveting technique as earlier, to complete the main body of the car. At this stage the body weighs just 261 kg thanks to the use of lightweight aluminium rather than steel.
The car then enters the paint shop to be coated with almost 14 litres of paint. Unfortunately we weren’t able to enter the paint shop for obvious contamination reasons, but we were able to see the painted cars returning to the production line with their stunning new finishes.
Once the car has exited the paint shop, the doors, bonnet and boot are removed to prevent damage and allow for easy access while engineers fit all the components. The panels are then covered with a protective cover and labelled up, ready to be reunited with the car further along the production line. Much of the trim is then able to be installed to the car, including sound proofing, wiring looms and electric window motors, amongst other things. Interestingly, Jaguar actually heat up the wiring looms under special lamps to make them more pliable when installing them into the car.
After the pedals and air conditioning unit are installed, an engineer installs the main dashboard using a special hydraulic crane that is designed to prevent any damage occurring whilst the dash is manipulated into place.
The drivetrain is assembled separately, with the customer’s choice of engine then being lifted up hydraulically into position, where everything is then torqued into place. It’s at this stage the convertible roof is also installed, if the customer has specified a convertible model. As the convertible takes a little more time to put together, the production line isn’t able to produce one convertible after another. Instead, a suitable gap has to be left between one convertible and the next.
The boot lid, doors and bonnet are now reattached to the car after the interior is finished off, and a computer has to be attached to the car to program the car’s complex infotainment systems, including the sat nav language that corresponds to the car’s final destination. The car is tested on a rolling road and also for water tightness before leaving the factory.