I’ve had a real itch to travel, lately. Almost exactly two years ago, I was preparing for my first trip to Italy, which was also my first trip to Europe in over thirty years, since childhood. As much as I had tried to get ready for that trip by studying key, Italian phrases, fair prices for things, sites to see, and modes of getting around, I was completely blown away by the broad vistas of beauty and history on display. That indelible trip to Rome and Venice, linked by a picturesque ride on the Frecciarossa high-speed rail (translated as “Red Arrow”, which would also be a good nickname for the above E-Type), left me hungering for a trip back almost immediately afterward.
My conundrum is this: I keep spending money. I’m not talking just about necessary expenses, like the mortgage and groceries. I’m referring to wants and not necessarily needs, money spent on which could be funneled away into some kind of fund used for a trip or even a Curbside Classic of my own. Impulse purchases even at the local Aldi discount supermarket can sometimes leave me lightly punching my leg out of frustration. Joe, did you really need that big, European chocolate bar to snack on, when you have almost a full tin of off-brand chocolate chip cookies in your pantry cupboard that has been sitting there for a couple of weeks? And why the fancy olives? Get the plain ones, next time.
I also love classic cinema, and have amassed a small DVD collection of iconic Italian films subtitled in English, most of which are set in belissima Roma, that I like to dust off and screen from time to time (with or without aperitivo and/or an Aperol spritz in hand). Mentally, I have found a way to justify these purchases (including CDs featuring swinging, vintage Italian music of the ’60s and ’70s) by backing into the logic that enjoying these things in the comfort of my own home is much less expensive than the planning and execution of such a(nother) trip abroad. I feel like I’m an honest person, but I’m thinking perhaps it’s time for me to get a bit more “real” with my leisure budget. The clock is ticking, and tomorrow is promised to no one.
I spotted our featured Jaguar E-Type roadster at the very beginning of this decade, right after the start of summer 2010. That it was parked in front of a travel agency (which is no longer in business at that location) was, in my mind at the time, perfect placement. Most of my favorite travel posters have featured elements of locations that are at once timeless and iconic – like our featured E-Type. When I think of a travel poster to, say, Rio de Janeiro, I don’t think of something that looks like a snapshot from somebody’s iPhone. I think of saturated colors, hand-drawn illustrations, and a sense of retro-tinged dynamism like that in those Pontiac ads of the 1960s by Fitzpatrick & Kaufman. This Jaguar could reside in that world, both then and in present day.
I’ll admit right now that I can’t positively identify the model year of our featured car. We could assume the displacement under the hood by the chrome “4.2” badge on the trunk, with this inline-six featuring 265 horsepower having been introduced for the ’65 model year. The ’68 models lost the clear covers over the headlamps (which were also more upright that year) and gained side-marker lights, but this car has both the earlier, plexi-covered headlights and rear side marker lights. (I’m confused.) A grand total of just over 18,000 4.2 Roadsters were produced over the seven model years between 1965 and ’71 before the Series I and Series II E-Types were replaced by the V-12 powered Series III, which ran from 1971 through ’75. Top speed for our featured car when new would have been over 130 mph, according to the editors of Consumer Guide.
Jason Shafer’s recent essay on the cars of “The Price Is Right”, a game show that also often featured trips to many beautiful, overseas vacation destinations, got me thinking about whether I would prefer a car or a trip, whether as a prize or if purchased with my own, hard-earned money. One could make an argument that one could take a road trip in a car like this Jaguar (a la the plot line in late Italian film director Dino Risi’s “Il Sorpasso” from 1962), but I’m not sure I would risk my prized cat and subject it to the potential carelessness, malice, and/or idiocy of other drivers out there. An E-Type like this one would give me just one more possession to worry about, and would thus probably end up owning me instead of the other way around.
Still, I wonder how the debonair, chic sensation of tooling around in such a vehicle during sunny, summer months would compare to further exploration of Italy, a place to which I’ve dreamed of returning for two years… or perhaps a different country with lots of ancient ruins, beauty, glamour, and historical significance. I obviously can’t afford the Jaguar, and I probably won’t have the funds to spare for another trip overseas for a little while. I’ll keep both in mind, though, as it will take some extra willpower to forego instant gratification in the form of small purchases intended to tide me over, in order to inch toward my ability to afford either one. Those efforts start today.
Lakeview, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, June 20, 2010.
Easily the sexiest car ever designed!!! followed by the 89 Camaro IROC convertible!!
There are cars that are challenging to find a good photography angle/view on and others that look fabulous from wherever you might happen to be standing. This Jaguar is of the latter type. And when someone carefully composes the shots in the way you do here, the results are sublime.
If cars can be called seductive (and I think to those who read here, they can be) this car is seductive. It makes you fall in love with it from the first glance. I may not have the budget (or patience) to own one for myself, but I sure wish my next door neighbor owned one.
JP, I agree that this car’s lines are flawless. I recall having read somewhere that even Enzo Ferrari, himself, called these the most beautiful cars ever produced. High praise, indeed, if I’m remembering that correctly.
” but this car has both the earlier, plexi-covered headlights and rear side marker lights”
It also has the Series 2 tail lights (under the bumper rather than over it), so the car is definitely sending mixed messages. Jaguar made production changes as parts arrived at the factory, so there are transition cars with a mix of parts from 2 different series. Those headlights are clearly Series 1 parts, so let’s stick with that…
Dave, I actually kind of like that this is sort of a Franken-Jag.
There are currently six vehicles on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The Series 1 E-type is one of them. While I question a couple of the other choices, there’s no doubt that the Jaguar belongs there. At one time, the Studebaker Avanti was included (I believe it and the Cisitalia were the first two), but, puzzlingly, the 1953 Loewy coupe was not.
As an aside, I vividly recall Brock Yates complaining in a Car & Driver article on how E-type prices were on the rise (and this was in the late seventies) saying, accurately, what a poorly-engineered car it was.
Rudiger, I love that an Avanti was on display at MoMA. That is one design (along with this E-Type) that absolutely belongs / belonged there.
It was the Cisitalia and Avanti as the first two cars ever put on display at the MoMA in 1972. I recall seeing a photo of them having to tilt the Avanti on two wheels to get it in, but I’ll be damned if I can find it now. I don’t know when it was pulled, either, but the Cisitalia has stayed on permanent display, along with the 1961 E-Type, 1959 VW Beetle, 1953 Jeep, 1991 Ferrari Formula 1, and 2002 smart fortwo. How the last two got in there and the Avanti was yanked is beyond me.
Shagadelic! What a beautiful car, perhaps worthy of the word “stunning”. And red to boot, I don’t think there’s a bad line anywhere.
You could just rent a car and take your cat with you for a weekend to Rome, Illinois. I’m sure it’ll be similar… 🙂
Jim, there’s a Rome, Illinois and I did not know this until you pointed it out! I wonder sometimes about the naming of U.S. cities and their European counterparts. (For example, I wonder if there are any significant similarities between Toledo, Ohio and that city in Spain.)
I don’t actually have a cat (though I did in my mid-20s) – that was just me colloquially referring to this Jaguar. 🙂
Haha, I thought you still had the cat, that was why I referenced it AS a substitute for an actual Jaguar…Too tricky 🙂
There is a Rome, Maine too. I always thought that it would be the perfect place for a lettuce farm. You could advertise “Romaine from Rome, Maine.” The short growing season would only yield one crop per year but, what a perfect slogan.
Is there a Charla Maine? If so, I’ll bet it has a heckuva mayor. 🙂
In one of the DVD bonus features for the movie “Fargo,” the actor Peter Stormare, who is Swedish, talks about how during breaks in filming he would travel around Minnesota to as many little towns with Swedish names as he could find. He even gets a little choked up talking about running into some old-timers who could actually speak Swedish to him, learned from long-ago immigrant parents or grandparents.
Come to Indiana and I will take you on a tour of Versailles. Only it is pronounced Ver-Sayles and while the courthouse is nice, it is no palace.
JP, bonus points if we can ride around in an actual Lincoln Versailles!
Toulon, Illinois is actually named after Toulon, TN, which in turn is named after that city in France. There’s also Lafayette, IL, but it’s pronounced LAYE-fayette. I’d happily drive the Jag-U-ar in either town.
Well, semi-solicited advice would be travel. While you are young enough to do what you want, and enjoy the spontaneous things that pop up, and have enough money to do it “properly”, and you are still able to enjoy the trips. Yes, there will always be places to go, but your knees and back may not want to schlep over there when you age a bit more.
Things tend to still be there when you are older, and while an E type may be more expensive as time goes on, I would wager that many collector cars will go down in price. IIRC, you are just a bit younger than I am, so the cars of your youth are just now moving from old used car category to collector. As such, they are cheap, relatively, and you have time to buy at a decent price. Plus, many of the boomer cars are going to start the downslide in price as they become unwanted as the current owners leave this mortal coil. I don’t recall you being much into wrenching, so a turnkey classic may just pop into your life in a few years, after you have done more travel.
JFrank, thank you for weighing in. I’ll say that my priorities in my forties are noticeably different than in my twenties or even my thirties, in that I tend to value experiences over things, though the ability to have *both* would be nice. LOL
You are correct that I do no mechanical stuff, and I know this would be an important consideration if and when I ever decided to make a classic car purchase in the future.
I saw an E Type on the highway last week for the first time in years, a post-‘68 (uncovered headlights) green roadster, slight patina, accelerating hard enough onto the freeway to make it clear that it was a six, not a V12, as well as making a noticeable impact on the local air quality. But, as the top was down, I could see that the elderly driver was having fun.
Great find! I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson would revel in an opportunity to get behind the wheel of this one. I’m almost certain he, or May or Hammond, must have done so in Top Gear.
All my life I understood the pronunciation for these was “Jagwar.” Now I am to learn it is correctly pronounced, “Jag-you-arr”. Substantially more class in the name that way, and this is one classy car.
Like long, beautiful legs on a woman that you can’t avert your eyes from, this car is one to enjoy as eye candy as long as you can.
A definite sensuous smile maker. Series 1 covered headlamp curvaceous bonnet contours. No explanation needed.
For me, XK-E is the most gorgeous car ever. I know build quality blah blah blah. Don’t care. Gorgeous.
Several trips to Europe in the 1990s came at a perfect time in my life. I was in my 40s, not bothered by flights of stairs, and flying was more tolerable than now. The first one was to England, where we saw the sights and, as aficionados of English church music, took in several choral Evensongs at famous churches. The next two trips had us going to Paris, to see, hear, and play notable French pipe organs. Then we went to Italy in the summer, based ourselves in Milan, and overdosed on art in Milan, Florence, and Venice. Ten hours on trains took us from Milan to London, where we ignored a Rembrandt exhibition but took in a couple of Proms concerts in the Royal Albert Hall. Definitely life-changing!
With that, Jaguar produced some stunningly beautiful cars over the years, and the E-types are just about the finest visually. (Never mind what was going on under the surface!) In the travel-versus-car question, though, I think travel wins out.
I’m a teacher (definitely middle class) and I’ve been able to do a lot of traveling through airline miles and travel hacking. Over the past 13 years, I’ve traveled 4 times to South America, twice to Europe, twice to Asia and once to Mexico – all with small monetary outlay. I’d recommend reading The Points Guy blog for ideas on stretching your travel dollars. I believe you can travel more, and I know I’d enjoy the future CC articles your journeys will inspire.
Eric, thank you so much for this recommendation. I will definitely do my homework. Much appreciated.
I’ve always love-love-loved the look of these, and clearly should have bought a gently-used one and garaged it 40 years ago.
Joseph, I see you could fly to England for a three-day Cotswalds rental (999 pounds)–think of the smiles and memories: http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/cars-jaguarclassiccars-etypeconvertibles.asp
George, thank you for this recommendation. Aside from renting the Jag, I did research airfare, and it looks like a(nother) European holiday could be done for a lot less money than I had thought if I make some sacrifices.
You know the old Irish traveller’s blessing starting “May the road rise to meet you…”?
Well, what they don’t tell you is that that author was an inadvertent literalist, for it does indeed rise. Not precipitously, but steeper than you thought, and instinctively you learn not to look ahead knowing the grade only increases. Ask one who has started on the slope, even if just the first part.
You are only in your forties – Jaguars be damned. Get out on the road, while not bothered by a health niggle, or more langour, or an age-related doubt. You are still young enough to do it on the cheap, and you’ll savour the remembered vistas and brief, intense friendships long after the cramped bus trip horror has faded.
Beautiful old cars are just a troublesome ornament, more for impressing others than ourselves if we’re truthful about it. Who wouldn’t like to be seen in this car? Mostly though, it will gather dust, and for some, perhaps the gathering and keeping of the thing is the private joy itself, but it isn’t the World. Get out there, soon. It’s much, much better than even the nicest garage.
Justy Baum, thank you so much for this useful and helpful perspective. I can’t really afford either a car or big trip right now, but as I think about this, it’s giving me motivation to set that goal and make it happen. Perhaps in 2020.
“Perhaps in 2020” be as damned as my theoretical Jag! Our own Jim Klein got as far as Japan from your country (via China) for 400 bucks, so don’t hang about till your own body bits start offering excuses. Believe me, from less than a decade in advance you, it will.
Before you start booking, I meant to say originally that I don’t agree with others above that the E-type doesn’t have a bad angle. It’s skinny tracked, and arguably too long in the hood, and can easily be caught out, but your first profile photo here has found a shadow line from the top of the front arch back and down that makes the old dear stunning all over again, and in a fair world, it’s a pic that should be enough to pay for that 2020 trip to somewhere else that you’re about to book, but since the world isn’t thus, it sure needs some free praise which I hereby provide.
I must be getting old I can remember when E types werent worth much, it was a long time ago and about when I discovered a local radiator reparer had a dozen or so stashed in two locations, they were just old Jags that gave trouble, times have change and the same cars now command stupid amounts of coin to purchase and even more to restore, i wonder how many that guy has left if any, personally I like em but will never own one the cost to buy and run one is out of my price range.
Thanks for the shout-out Joe.
As a thank-you for the shout-out, here’s something for you. The video quality isn’t that great or otherwise I would have used it in my TPIR article.
It’s a hair newer, but the same concept applies.
I can attest from my step father’s ten year ownership of a 83 V12 XJS-HE the only way to keep your sanity when owning a Jag of any vintage are three things: Money and lots of it. The ability to wrench on it. And a second vehicle while it’s being repaired. Absolutely beautiful cars to look at but as mentioned before not engineered to anywhere close to today’s expected standards. Look but don’t buy is my advice.
Don’t know if it was done with the E-Type, but a common swap was a SBC into the XJ-S for the reasons mentioned above. You lost the V-12, but at least you had a Jaguar you could drive with ‘some’ regularity.
If you like 60’s Italiana (and why not?), you should try the film The Italian Job.
Made in 1968 in the UK, stars Michael Caine, as surprisingly enough, Michael Caine…..
…..you might enjoy it*…..an E-Type features
(* you might not, or might not think it very Italiana)
Roger, thank you for the recommendation. The original “Italian Job” (the one you reference and not the remake) has been on my list of car-themed movies to watch for a really long time.
Strangely enough, another one, “Vanishing Point” (though not Italian-themed) is one I still haven’t seen over a decade since I had fist wanted to. Perhaps before the new year.