Jaguar+Corvette+Mustang Equals “Jagenstein.”
I pretty much like all sports cars, but I have a special fondest for British sports cars. Over the years I have owned several small British sports cars, even having had old MGs and Triumphs as my primary car at times. However, like most British car enthusiasts, I have always wanted to own a “big” British sports car.
A big British sports car is usually either an Austin Healy or a Jaguar. Owning one of these cars seemed to have been my Phoenix. Each time I would get close to owning a big British car, the deal would fall through. About a year ago, I thought I might try again to find a reasonably priced “driver” Healey that I could restore over a few years. I had looked at a few, but they were either too much money or too rusted to justify the asking price.
Last July on vacation at a local beach with my family, I was killing time looking at cars on the Internet when I spotted the holy grail of British cars – an early Jaguar XKE convertible for sale not far from where we were staying. The car was beautiful, and in great shape except for some paint issues on the hood, and the price was in my ball park. However, there was one huge issue.
For any true Jaguar perfectionist, the greatest sin of all is to replace the Jaguar engine with an American V8. Luckily for me I’m not a perfectionist! In talking with the owner, the rub, and hence the low price, was it had a 1980 Corvette engine and manual transmission. For most people this would be an issue, but I liked the idea that this is an engine I can work on! Another minor issue was that the car had a beautiful red paint job, but unfortunately instead of painting it a traditional Jaguar red, a past owner had painted the car Candy Apple Red from a 1968 Mustang!
Now I had a dilemma. I could buy this car knowing that it has limited marketability or wait and spend the same amount of money on a better Healey. By the way, with the Corvette engine, this Jag was fast and reliable in addition to being beautiful. Well, the car had a few minor electrical issues (it is a Jaguar,) so the guy cut the price and the rest is history. I rented a U-haul trailer and collected the car the next day.
So, for the average Joe and for me, I own a beautiful and rare red Jaguar XKE convertible. I just have to avoid car shows where the Jaguar purists will sniff their noses at my Jaguar/Corvette/Mustang “Jagenstein.”
P.S. Of all things a proper age, correct Jaguar engine showed up on craigslist just days after the purchase. I bought the engine and a heavy duty engine stand for just $450. One day when the old Corvette engines blows, we’ll make it a proper Jag-u-ar.
Jones Garage is monthly column by Kevin Jones, President of MIDFLORIDA and certified car guy to talk about his cars and automobilia and the cars of MIDFLORIDA’s members.