Welcome to the fourth car in our Bedford Classic Car Series. We are talking with Dave who has two classic British Cars. Dave owns a 1969 Jaguar XKE as well as a 1953 MG TD. Today, we will concentrate on his Jaguar.
When thinking of a classic British sports car, one of the first that comes to mind is the sleek classic Jaguar from the sixties. Think “Bond, James Bond.” The Jaguars of the sixties and their long front end are considered some of the most beautiful cars ever made. Don’t take our word, here is what Enzo Ferrari once said:
“Jaguar’s E-Type is the most beautiful car in the world.”
Being a historically proud and contentious man, that is one of the highest compliments a vehicle and manufacturer could receive. We agree with Enzo, it’s a beautiful car.
Unlike some of the cars we feature where people were seeking out a “classic,” David, who loved the Jaguars of the sixties, bought his 1969 Jaguar XKE in 1971, a contemporary car, and has loved it ever since. It has become a classic over time.
When David finished his graduate degree, he convinced his wife that it would be a great graduation present to himself. He bought it in response to an advertisement in the Boston Globe. The car, way back then, sold for $2,850 and is worth far more today. Here is how he describes it:
What work have you done to it? Do you do it yourself or do you send it out? or both?
So I have had it for 51 years, lovingly kept in my garage. It has been reconditioned twice now, taken down to bare metal and repainted.
When I first got the car in 1971, I did all the work on it. I removed the engine to replace the clutch in my garage. I stripped the paint and re-painted it myself. Some of the rocker arm panels that were beginning to show rust were replaced professionally. The ignition system was never very reliable, but I later replaced the breakers and points with an electronic ignition and it has been reliable ever since, both in terms of starting and running. The fuel pump occasionally needs a “hit it” with my copper hammer to start it pumping, but once running it’s good for at least one season and I repeat the process almost every year to get going in the spring.
The engine has been overhauled once. I probably put less than 2,000 miles on it per year. It was two years old when I bought it and had about 40-50,000 miles on it. It now has less than 70,000 and runs like a charm in large measure due to the kindness and gentle care it receives each year from Patrick Mulvaney at Jaguar Catricks. Pat works on my XKE and MG TD. I also use another person, too, Don Moore, who is another great mechanic and previously was owner and mechanic at Custom Transportation in Wakefield. He works on these cars, too, from time to time, and also works on the DB9. For coach work, I use Sal Messina of Columbia Auto in Lawrence who does all my seats, carpets, seals, and convertible top work.
Where do you drive/show the car?
I never show the car. It is just not my thing, but I do like to see other cars at shows. When first new, I was so excited about the XKE that I drove it everywhere – all around New England. But after a few years when I was driving down Route 128 at 60 miles per hour in snow, I did a 180 that scared me half to death, heading backwards at high speed toward a bridge abutment, truly. And almost by accident, I quickly turned the wheel again, and fortunately then did another 180-degree spin seconds later going forward once again still at just under 60 miles per hour. The guy behind me must have thought I was Sterling Moss. After that, I drove off 128 in Burlington and that was the last time the car ever saw snow. Now I only drive it in nice weather. The fastest I have ever driven the car was about 120 miles per hour, but now that I am old, I hardly ever go over 70 miles per hour. Ginni and I go to our summer house in Gloucester, we travel around Bedford in the fall, and that is about it.
Are there clubs for this model?
There are Jaguar Clubs, but I am not a member nor a participant. I like to drive them, not show them. I try to keep it “almost perfect,” but not perfect so I don’t really worry about parking it, touching a curb, driving on a road that has recently been repaved etc. If you show them, it is really inconsistent with driving them on the road.
What else should we know about?
I just love it now as much as I ever did. It gives me great joy every time I get in the car and start it up. I love to downshift and hear the rumble from the exhaust system which is a quiet, elegant rumble. The wind in your hair (I still have some) on a sunny day is really fun stuff. Just an aside: Ginni and I went to the same high school, but we did not date until I was in college. A mutual friend who was an “old girlfriend” in my sophomore year of high school came to visit Ginni and me, and in the process cars came into the conversation. She said the car she always loved was the XKE, but she never rode in one. So we did, just five miles or so. I was very proud that I had one, and it ran great and looked great. Nothing more than that, but a sort of cute story. Ginni still worries that it will break down on the road, as was the case when I first got it, but it has truly been very reliable for the past 25 years and now, I think, Ginni is comfortable going out for a fall ride to see the leaves changing color, top down, sun out, great day, great to be alive, great to have a car like that one.
If you know of other classic cars around Bedford, please let us know.
Past Featured Cars:
Classic Cars of Bedford Next Up – Visiting an Iconic Jaguar – Oct 27, 2022
Bedford Classic Cars – 1965 Blue Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS. – Sept 12, 2022
Bedford Classic Cars – Next Up – Ford Model A – Sept 26.2022