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Hagerty Employee

Joy of Six: A 400-mile awakening with an E-Type and the Blue Ridge Parkway | Hagerty Media

I read it in a book once: The Jaguar E-Type is magnificent. What a unit, that car. Launched in 1961. Body like liquid expletive. Six cylinders, two cams, a four-speed manual. Inboard rear discs and independent rear suspension at a time when most Ferraris still snorted around with a solid axle.

How long did it take you to write tha poetic last paragraph?
Advanced Driver

Sehr gut, meister. Let me veer a bit, and also thank Mr. Trahan. For one thing, many of his lovely photos reminded me that before Gondwanaland divided up, what are now the Appalachians stretched north into what is now Scotland. Highlands beauty worthy of the E-Type.

And I was happily reminded of a scene in the movie 'Silver Streak'. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor boost an XKE from a car lot (Wilder: "We can't steal a car!" Pryor: "I'm a thief, that's what I do."), and are driving across Kansas as the sun comes up. Pryor is asleep in the passenger seat, and Wilder is at wheel. Wilder heretofore has been a wreck of neuroses, but now he is cool! He's smoking a cigarette and looking like he just took a sip of a martini. Perfectly composed. How so? It's obviously the car. Is that part of it for you? Duh.

I can't believe you got to do that. I'm afraid my longtime admiration for your art will forever be tinged with a tad of resentment. It's not fair. It just isn't.

Warning: 1976 comedy-appropriate language.
Advanced Driver

Bless you for this. I'd forgotten about Big Gene taking out the guard, but I still think it was mostly the car that performed the alchemical conversion of square to hip. Since Major Sam was already hip, no telling what Car Lover's Cloud he is living on now.
Intermediate Driver

I had to wait until 73 to buy my FHC E-type. Yet the love affair started in maybe 1962 when I first glimpsed a FHC while riding shotgun while my dad drove the family wagon and we pulled up behind one in Everett Washington. It was love at first sight. And that love lasted for many years. Realizing how much I loved that car only after I watched it disappear down my driveway. A humorous experience follows.
Shortly after buying my series 2 FHC I hit the freeway to experience the advertised 150 Mph speeds I had been reading about since I was a kid. Of course my Jag like most Imported North American models had a lower ring gear so 130 Mph was about the max speed for my Etype in America. It was fast enough but I made a stop back at the dealer to FIX this problem. Salesman was clever enough but not honest enough to confirm the gearing issue. But as I spoke to the service manager later he confirmed the gearing issue. I left the dealer satisfied that all I needed was the gearing the European Etypes enjoyed. I never did change the gearing and don't think it mattered. Until a Corvette blew by me on the freeway. But that didn't happen for at least 5 years. 🙂

I never expect to be so lucky as to even ride in an E-type. But if you have a cool car go to the blue Ridge Pkwy. I have been on it on a motorcycle and it was great. But about four years ago I drove the entire length in my 1995 MR2 with the T tops off of course. There is no better scenic drive on the east coast that I am aware of. Just go!
Intermediate Driver

What a great story. I have found myself watching E-Type Coupes on BringATrailer and craigslist the last few years. This story has not helped that unrequited longing one bit. I hope I find a magical one as Hoyer's is. If it isn't, I hope I can find a Dr Jaguar, or maybe a Peter Egan type to get me through the trials of making it right.

As usual, a phenomenal read, thank you Sam.
I have had some jags in my day, and no, nothing as awesome as this, but a certain S Type R that had some additional finishing school still makes the hair on my neck stand up when I think about driving it. It is sad where Jag is at today - stuck between poor sales, cars vs. SUVs, and the general malaise of being the tag-a-long to the RR revenue stream, it is certainly in a bad way. Maybe the EV "revolution" can help Jag, but it looks less likely with each passing quarter of diminished revenue and the reality that they just don't have anything to catch anybody's eye. The F Pace got rave reviews, and they sold about 14 of them. If only Jag could bring something like this vehicle to market, something to make them matter again.
Intermediate Driver

Thanks for the great story. I've loved e-types for my entire life (we were created in the same year). I couldn't agree more about how different they can be. My first series III coupe was a comfortable grand tourer, happy at any speed. My current series II FHC loves nothing more than to go faster, no matter what speed you may already be at. Handling was a bit sloppy until I redid the entire suspension, but that is one of the main points in your story. You can't expect a poorly maintained 50 year old car to perform like the legend it is. It takes a lot of time and effort (or money) to get it right.

Mine is also a '64, although a drop head. Its late so doesn't have the aluminum dash either although mine even has a console. Jaguar just used whatever they had and when it ran out they used something else. What I disagree with in this splendid story is that the cars seldom get out to drive. Mine is driven all summer. Even to work before I retired. Its been to California from the northwest several times as well as other states east. I probably do about 3 - 4000 miles each year. Otherwise, I probably would sell it. All that work on the drag and stability is wasted otherwise. and yes, its a joy!
New Driver

Hi great article and photos. I have a beautiful 1961 Sept' coupe e type, with all correct early features. I've owned it since 1979, and never looked back.
One thing overlooked in the article, was Norman Dewis last minute run, overnight, in 77 RW the DHC, in British Racing Green, to Geneva. Lyons insisted on having another car, there as the demand for fun runs was immense. Must have been quite something, as Norman only got on the late ferry at Dover, when the guys on the dock, were so impressed, and perplexed as well, at this new car and its beauty that they stopped the ferry to allow him to board with 77 RW. Stuff of legends, so sadly wanting in our lives today.
Pit Crew

Hey there, SamSmith,
another love story to a piece of metal...which equates to mine, for my 1960 Austin Healey 3000, touring the American southwest, from LA to Chicago on part US 66 and part I-40...
Truly magnificant... your wordsmithing is...(Don't go getting a big head; i am notorious for debunking wordsmashers, particularly in the political realm, but yours... it just seems honest.
Maybe its because it touches so many of us...pining for a time when the machines were 'ours to control', to win with, to lose with...but 'ours', not technoGadgets from the 'dark side' which really are just 'taking us along for the ride, as they 'win or lose'... No, not knocking any form of motive power, aircraft are perhaps the last arena where so much personal skill is required, much as racing... but just 'driving the car'... as this E-type clearly states, is less and less a skill and more and more... just 'something to do' skill, no brains, ...not even 'no guts'. Oh, see "On Any Sunday" coming this autumn... Cheers to you and Hagerty...!

"There was the 100-point Series I coupe that seemed glass-fragile and slow as tectonic shift"
No car that gets driven fairly regularly so it all works and has been sorted a little after a restoration could ever be a 100 point car. Of course it sucked to drive.

"the survivor 2+2 that stopped and turned like a 1970s Lincoln"
"Survivor cars" typically have their bushings and springs worn out and a whole lot of other things wrong in a minor way that really add up. Of course it sucked to drive.

"the hot-rodded 4.2 roadster with some British tuner’s “fast comfort” suspension, neither fast nor comfy."
Hardly a surprise. As if some tuner modifying classic cars is going to know better than the factory who went through an entire development process over years with many cars. Of course it sucked to drive.

And who knows what shape that first E type he got to drive was in underneath?

So finally he got to drive one done properly and sorted out so it worked like a good factory original example. Of course it was great to drive.

Good story.
New Driver

Yep - I have a 1967 XKE which I have owned for over 35 yrs & yes it is very fast, corners like it's on rails, and stops on a dime - so not sure why I keep reading otherwise ???  Also agreed by many as the most beautiful car in the world.  And Yes I love to drive it - Thx 

Intermediate Driver

I found myself holding my breath in awe as I read this. All of my knowledge of Jaguars comes from 50+ years of reading about them -- the glowing reviews, the snarky comments, the disparagement. To read a first-hand account of the reality of driving a fully-sorted example of what the factory produced on its best day, written by a car lover with the soul and writing skills of a poet was the best thing I've done in many days. Thank you!

Sam's writing is so good it inspires better writing from the commenters.
Pit Crew

A really great story. Nice to read an article here about a true collector car, not a 20 year old used Civic or the latest BEV Porsche Toucan.

Drive an E-Type in Southeast Michigan and you won’t draw crowds. Maybe just a few blank stares at best. It’s great - probably the last place in the world where one of these can go unrecognized. It’s like when I ran across a real-deal SS100 Jaguar parked at the local Safeway 35 years ago. Turned out it belonged to a friend of my dad’s. Hidden in plain sight: “Oh yeah, once in a while someone asks about it, and he tells them it’s a kit car.” Here they just have eyes for the next Hellcat Widebody Redeye Scat Pack Super Bee Edition Dodge Charger…
Pit Crew

Thank you so much for this piece, beautifully written and gorgeous photos. I've been lucky to be the caretaker of a 69 Series 2 coupe for the past 33 years. I fell in love with the coupe in Jaguar ads in New Yorker Magazine in the 60s... "some day", I thought, "some day I'm going to have one of those." Fast forward to 1989, when by chance I found one in "Deals on Wheels", not far away from where I lived. The owner kept it in a heated garage, on carpet and the [car] battery-run clock still worked. I had 'trained' on maintenance on a 74 Spitfire and a 74 Midget, so felt ready to take on the iconic E. Now 53 years old, he has had an engine and trans rebuild, and back in the 90s, while working at a British restoration shop, I stripped off the old lacquer, did the little body work that was required and had fresh paint put on. Just the most wonderful piece of automotive art that ever graced the roads and now shares garage space with a 2017 F. Grace, Space and Pace... and many thanks to Mark Baker at Sport & Specialty who mentored me, taught me to use my "hand" for body work and to whom I will always be grateful for passing on to me the skills and standards that I have applied to so many other projects.
Intermediate Driver

Having owned one of those magnificent beasts for 53 years, and having worked on hundreds more, I truly enjoyed the article!



I do take a little bit of exception of the comparison to a 1970 Lincoln to a series 2 E-type:  the S2 2+2 was in bad shape, or someone hasn't driven a 1970 Lincoln very far!