The Great UK Tour, day 4: visiting Jaguar and Land Rover

The sun slowly rose over the rooftops across the street from the Stratford Limes Hotel. It was time to get up and get ready for another day on the road.

NANTWICH, England – We continued our journey heading north, on our way to Birmingham to visit Jaguar's main factory called Castle Bromwich Assembly. This is where the company builds the XF sedan (and wagon, which isn't sold in Canada), the XJ sedan, the XK coupe and convertible as well as the newest member of the family, the F-TYPE in both coupe and roadster body styles.

The facility was built in 1936, at a time when the political situation in Europe was turning sour and the British Government needed more production capacity for building ammo and fighter planes. The main building was designed to withstand enemy bombing.

Jaguar is on a roll, as sales are up and new products are slowly being launched. In the last three years, the company hired 9,000 workers for a total of 24,000, which represents a whopping 40% increase.

As we walked outside around the facility, I noticed a strange number of completed cars just lying around, parked here and there between buildings. How could they possibly remember where each car is?

The answer came when we transferred over to Land Rover's assembly plant in Solihull. The friendly folks there explained that every vehicle that comes off the line is fitted with a transponder, which makes a particular unit easy to find in the parking lot, or wherever the vehicle ends up.

About 25 minutes separates Castle Bromwich from Land Rover's facility in Solihull. This is where the brand builds the Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport, the Discovery/LR4 and – in a separate building – the old Defender that hasn't been offered in Canada for a few years now. According to Land Rover, this is the only line in the world that can produce both body-on-frame and unibody vehicles. As for the Evoque and the Freelander/LR2, they are assembled in another plant located in Halewood.

Compared to Aston Martin and Bentley, Jaguar and Land Rover uses much more modern design and assembly techniques. Very little work is done by hand, and a slew of robots take care of riveting, gluing, clamping and welding these luxury cars and trucks together.

After visiting both assembly plants, our group of journalists, invited by Montreal dealership Decarie Motors, hopped back on the bus and headed north once again. Our next destination was Crewe, home of Bentley Motors.

Actually, following the 90-minute commute, we arrived at Rookery Hall Hotel and Spa in Nantwich, which is near Crewe. After dinner at The Residence Restaurant & Bar, with the delightful company of Christophe Georges, president and COO of Bentley Motors for the Americas, we returned to our rooms, exhausted but glad to have enjoyed another fascinating leg of our journey.

Time for bed. Tomorrow, we're going to visit Bentley's factory and get behind the wheel of a couple of their cars.

More articles and photos about the Great UK Tour
The Great UK Tour, day 1: heading to Fawsley Fall
Aston Martin Works: the fountain of youth
The Aston Martin factory in Gaydon: pursuing the tradition
The Great UK Tour, day 2: getting to know Aston Martin
The British Heritage Museum: automotive history, English style
Jaguar Land Rover's Virtual Innovation Centre in Gaydon
the Great UK Tour, day 3: down and dirty with Land Rover
Jaguar's Castle Bromwich Assembly plant in Birminghman: high tech
Land Rover's assembly plant in Solihull: old and new

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