Diamond In The Rough: Paradise Found...Paradise Lost?
I am always on the lookout for lost automotive souls… rusty but worth-saving relics of the road that have been tucked away and forgotten. Whether on the way to the local grocery store or on an automaker’s ride-and-drive program in another state I have one eye on the road and one eye looking in backyards, alleys, and open sheds. I’ve spotted some cool stuff and this Jag is my chart topper.
On my way home recently I swung by my favorite Mexican taqueria. As I strolled about outside waiting for my to-go order a classic automotive shape caught my eye and I had one of those moments where your logical mind asks your eyes if they are really seeing what you think they’re seeing. It was classic Jaguar. And I could tell from a distance time had been unkind.
I knew about the red four-door Studebaker next to it, but the Jag had been covered and unidentified for as long as I can remember. Wind and weather had finally gotten the best of that generic blue tarp, and the beauty below was peering straight at me.
The cover’s disintegration revealed a body battered by time and moisture with paint sheeting off like sunburned skin, exposing raw metal struggling for its life. Heck, the distinctive headlight buckets were home to a wasp nest and had what looked like plant life taking hold.
I am capable of envisioning some pretty ratty rides in their fully restored glory, but even my vivid imagination was struggling to see an end game that put this car back on the open road.
The Jag is a venerable E-Type, which was produced from 1961 to 1974. It is a Series 1, recognizable by its over-the-bumper turn signal lights, which was produced from ’61 to ’68.
A 4.2 was the more desirable version because of its synchromesh transmission, updated brakes, improved electrics, better seats, and a slight bump in power and torque thanks to its 4.2-liter inline six which is bigger than previous 3.8-liter powerplants.
As I understand it the Jag’s uncovered headlights are clues that it may be a 1968 Series 1.5 that was configured for U.S. sales. The color may be Carmen Red. What I am sure of is this Leaping Cat is in no mood to purr as it is in need of serious resuscitation efforts.
The situation’s dire for sure but for every protruding rusty patch there is a section of clean trim, shiny chrome, and potential bad spots that look unscathed…just enough to keep hope alive. My daydream build would result in the “Draguar” where I replace the aging, crusty Coventry-sourced inline six with the ultimate inline six, a Supra 2JZ-GTE. Convert it to single-turbo and add a six-speed. Then fortify the already beefy Jag rear end assembly, bolt on some big rubber, and slap that baby in the staging beams.
I asked the kid behind the taqueria counter about the car and he indicated it belonged to the property owner, Mike, who was waiting for it to be ‘worth more money.’ To which I said the longer he waits the less it will be worth and that’s it’s getting closer to a lost cause by the day. He said he knew and his family has tried to persuade the owner to sell...
Apparently dollar signs are more influential than warning signs.
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