The heartbreak of Jaguar love finally requited | CAR Magazine

The heartbreak of Jaguar love finally requited

Published: 01 June 2010 Updated: 26 January 2015

As a young boy in the early 1960s, I would trek solo to our local auto show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While other boys and their dads would make a beeline to the latest Corvettes and later American muscle cars, I would always head first for the Jaguar stand. I found the combination of different styling, luxurious wood and leather interiors and promise of fast travel through landscapes that were foreign to me to be intoxicating. Not only did I resolve to one day own a Jaguar, but after viewing my first E-Type I for many years harbored a dream of designing cars.

I eventually gave up the dream of becoming a car designer, and instead became an urban planner and attorney. My depictions of Jaguars were relegated to my drawings and paintings of Mark IIs, XK 150s and E-Types. My car purchases were limited to cheap, but entertaining Audi 4000 GTs, Porsche 924 Turbos, and other orphan cars.

But I never gave up the dream of owning a Jaguar. Unfortunately, in the 1980s some friends and I were involved in an accident in which a sleeping truck driver rammed his semi into the RV we were in, sending one of my friends flying several yards down the road. While we all survived, the ensuing litigation stripped my of the funds I had saved to buy the E-Type of my dreams that year.

Years later, the friend who had been thrown from the RV went to work as a salesman for the local Jaguar dealer. One day he called me, and said that while he knew he had a role in keeping me from purchasing a Jaguar years ago, he had a way to get me into one now, not an E-Type (which, with a family, I could no longer afford anyway), but a Jaguar nonetheless. So in 2003, at the age of 50, I bought my first Jaguar, a 1994 XJ40 VDP (black over cashmere leather).

I thought it was lovely, and loved driving it, although I learned over time how dodgy it could be. The climate control didn’t work and seemed beyond help despite large infusions of cash; door handles stopped working; suspension bushings would fail frequently. In addition, as a public servant I would constantly get harassed about having too much money because I drove cars with Leapers on the hood. I developed a real love-hate relationship with the car. 

I determined to trade it on what seemed a near perfect, low mileage BRG over oatmeal 1996 VDP.  Surprising to me it was not as happy a handler as the XJ40 had been, but it was still a Jaguar. Except I discovered a year after its purchase that the car had been in a serious accident, and it was starting the process of rusting… something I just couldn’t watch. So it got sold to someone else, who gave it to his wife as an anniversary present.

I tried to buy another Jaguar, but after years of putting money into dodgy old European cars, and with our sons nearing college, my wife and sons would have none of it, and insisted I buy a new car with a warranty. Thus, I now drive a little Japanese sporty coupé, a Scion tC (a Toyota in drag). Nothing breaks and no one harangues me about what I drive. Still, one day, maybe after the sons finish college, I can talk my wife into letting me buy at least one more Jaguar. I will, however, make sure I know a good Jaguar specialist first!

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By Michael Leek