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Leather & Trim Kits

Leather & Trim Kits

I thought some of you may be interested to know that most of the usual sources for trim kits do NOT source their leather from Connolly. Of course, I do not recall them advertising that they do, and on reflection, you would expect them to say so if they did, loud and clear. Of course there is no reason why they should go to Connolly if they feel they can get a satisfactory product elsewhere, and cheaper, but I think it is still interesting. One exception is Aldridge in the UK (but they apparently make one offs to order, not kits off the rack) and sometimes BAS buys some material from Connolly, depending on price. Any comments? - Regards, John Elmgreen

John, I recently received a package from BAS Ltd., USA, they are advertising that they are using Connolly leather. Dated 3/98 "The only company worldwide to offer all original materials. Including Connolly leather and all 3 styles of factory specification carpets." - Regards, Skip Smith

Skip, Thanks for the info re BAS. I think they are a very good company from my discussion a few months ago with Tony Hazell and recommendations from this list. So it is good to hear they are offering Connolly for XKs. Maybe their other purchases are for "lesser" vehicles - or do they do only Jaguars? - Regards, John Elmgreen

All, is Connolly leather all that special? Doesn't appear to be from what I've seen. Is it just the original name that's sought after or the 'original' leather? (...after all, the cow only dies once) - Jim Warren

Re: ...(after all, the cows only die once), but what threads they leave! - Regards, Klaus Nielsen

John; On the book Tony sent in the lower rt corner it states "Celebrating 20 years exclusively Jaguar". - Regards, Skip Smith

Jim W, Is Connolly leather all that special? I guess only an expert could answer that, comparing it with some other particular product. Who are the other high quality leather producers, for example in the US? I never seem to see any advertised by brand name. Connolly seem to have done fairly well over the last 120 years, to keep the Jaguar account for 50 years and Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati etc, so those guys, who you would think would want the best, must think they are OK. For all that, we do have a leather manufacturer in Melbourne, Australia (Howe) who supplies the BMW factory with leather for the 5 series. - Regards, John Elmgreen

Can't remember where but I've heard that Connolly only uses leather from farms that don't have barbed wire fences. Any truth to this? - Bruce Cunningham

Oh yes, very much so Bruce. Connoly suppliers are obliged to speak very firmly to their cows on the subject of them wandering off on their own. The underlying threat to the skin-donors is that if you don't stay, voluntarily, in the un-fenced field assigned to you, you'll be banished to a barbed-wire surrounded "Security Meadow" and furthermore, you'll be humiliated severly-after slaughtering that is, by being sent to the "Thor" rawhide mallet factory instead of the bovine Xanadu of the Connoly Tanning Salons. Cows are expected to keep themselves and their dermal layers in good, marketable condition at all times if they expect to be considered for Connoly selection. Sort of like the unfortunate victims of the transvestite weirdo in "Silence Of The Lambs" who were forced to nurture their own skin before....well enough of that. Hope this helps, TTFN - John Morgan

John; One of the areas I ask Tony Hazell about was the tan and dye process, all of the leather used by Connolly for Jags are drum dyed. I know from looking at one other company's dye process that it is lot dyed or sprayed like a Marhyde or Sim process. - Regards, Skip Smith

Bruce, They used to say that all Connolly hides came from Scandanavia where there were electric fences instead of barbed wire. But these days they have a wider range of satisfactory sources. Only about one on ten hides they get is good enough for the quality that Jaguar and others require just the same. Lesser grades are used for less demanding applications. - Regards, John Elmgreen

Skip, I am not sure what you mean by "drum dyed". Connolly Vaumol hides were not dyed at the tanning stage (they generally are these days, so they create the impression of colour right through) and are a fawn colour underneath, regardless of the top colour. The top colour is sprayed on. After that, Vaumol hides were tumbled in a drum to soften them and bring back the creases. - Regards, John Elmgreen

John; The samples that I have show color right through, the only sample that appears to be top colored is the Light Beige and the more I look at it I think it is also drum/vat dyed. - Regards, Skip Smith

Skip, What are the samples you have? I would be interested to see them. If they are from one of the usual suppliers, can you ask them what the source was? They probably will not say, other than to indicate that they are "local" or whatever. I would be interested to know what Bassetts for example use. They seem to be very aware of authenticity issues etc and have been around for a long time. I think also that the nearest to original hood material I have seen (available in the last say 20 years) was one of theirs - far better than anything else. - Regards, John Elmgreen

John; They are from BAS Ltd. I will send you the green and the red. Send me your address. Regards, Skip Smith

Skip, address again is 3rd floor, 75 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. Thanks! Regards, John Elmgreen

It should be borne in mind that there are two BAS companies - one which services the North American market and one which sells into Europe, etc.. While I have no doubt that the two companies are inter-related, my (exemplary) dealings to date have been with Tony Hazell at BAS North America. While I assume that the materials are the same as between the two companies, I don't know this for a fact and it might account for the Connolly/non-Connolly discrepancy. - Brian Pel, Toronto, Canada 1955 XK-140 DHC

OK, I will ask the question: Can one even tell the difference between Connolly leather and other suppliers? Assuming there are other suppliers with high quality standards. Is there some distinguishing characteristic? - Carl Hanson, 1951 XK120 FHC Bedford, MA USA

Carl, It would be hard today to get leathers that replicate Connolly Vaumol because they were finished in cellulose not the water based paints normally used today. But most people might not notice that at all. One area that would be very difficult to replicate for others (even Connolly has problems these days) is where Connolly printed a pattern into their leather. Occasionally used for XKs e.g. Pigskin, and Black for 150s. Not all Connolly is the same either - the modern hides are finished much duller than the XK style - I can see this in the samples that Zoran M sent me a while back, which are pretty dull. But they may well be Connolly (like for the current model Jags - the modern equivalent is called Autolux). Whether you want the older style or not is up to you. Who bothers to try to finish a car in cellulose paint these days (if you can find it)? Virtually every restored XK I see these days is finished in orange peel two pack paint (mine too). I would be interested to see some off cut samples from kits if anyone would care to post them to me, with details of who supplied the kit, colour name, and date of supply. I could give some comments then on comparisons. Address: 3rd floor, 75 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. By the way, I really enjoyed John Morgan's description of the Connolly cow. What a hide! - Regards, John Elmgreen

I have just received a fax from Tony Hazell at BAS who also sent a copy of two recent invoices from Connolly, to show that they use Connolly hides. - Regards, John Elmgreen

I believe G. W. Bartlett also uses Connolly hides. I think I received some certification to that effect with my interior kit which is still not installed. (Call me shipwright.) "Mark 1" Mark Stephenson, 1959 3.4 Litre Saloon Phoenix, AZ

For what it is worth. I talked to Bartlett 2 years ago about a complete kit for my 120 FHC. In that discussion, I asked them and they explained me that for a number of reason's ( which I forgot) they did not use Connolly. - Duco Avis

About Bartlett, they did say in ads that they made their interiors to "original specification", whatever that means. Most advertisers if using Connolly would say so specifically I would think. Bartletts have been doing it a long time and maybe have found a good local supplier. - Regards, John Elmgreen

Hi Carl, There is a difference. the Connolly hides are finished on the outside, hot because they don't breathe, and hard feeling. Glove leathers (furniture grades and auto grades) are dyed through and very supple. I opted to replace MY seat in my Mark IX with the glove leather--- My wife can't tell the difference! Steve MK IX(2) XK140, '48 Chrysler, '54 Buick, '52 Riley

Carl - Glad you asked because I was getting ready to put my foot in my mouth! I'm sure the leather folks know all the small distinctions between the available hides for crafting into auto interiors. But all the hub-bub about "original Connolly leather" (whatever the meaning) has always amused me in discussions about these cars. (Not to disturb sedan owners, but I've always found the rear seats to be a little hard. But I accept that.) I don't know the source of leather for the major crafts folks supplying interior kits for XKs, but I can't believe there is much of a difference in the overall quality of the hides, Connolly or otherwise. - Bob Oates

I think Bartletts uses the real thing - for what it's worth... Quoting from G.W.Bartlett's 1995 catalogue... "The wool moquette, wool carpet, hardura and Connolly leather still arrive from England via air cargo..." and later on in the XK120 section..(as in all subsequent seat cover descriptions)... "Connolly Leather seat covers and foam cushions" Unless they have changed since '95 I guess thay use Connolly leather- there is also a "Connolly, Wimbledon" emblem on the inside front cover. Just an observation.... - Chris van Brummen

I used a GWB kit in my 150S OTS S830917DN it fitted in easy and looked good after 7 years regards TERRY HILTON

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