Green ’68 Jag XKE

While visiting my Vietnam buddy, Gerry Byrne, in New York one day, he introduced me to somebody he’d met who had spent a lot of  time in Spain recently.  Imagine my surprise when I learned he was the mysterious David Weir that all my friends in Spain had been raving about. I tried to dislike him, to no avail.  Soon we were fast friends. David suggested I move to New York and get a job as a stockbroker with him, since he noticed that I didn’t have much direction.  So I stuck around Manhattan for a while and interviewed with all the major firms.  In the meantime I drove a cab. Eventually landed a job at Bache & Co, right next to David.

Ever since I drove Ali’s E-Type in high school, I dreamed of owning one.  One Sunday, found a coupé in the car section of the New York Times (that’s how we found cars back then) and I bought it.  It was a 1968 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 Series 1.5 Fixed Head Coupe (FHC) in British Racing Green with tan interior.  Since New York City has inclement weather half of the year, I thought that a hard top would be better than a rag top in this instance.  Also I had seen ragtops parked on the street and many of them had the tops slashed.  I decided that for security purposes, the coupé was better.

(I should mention that the process of finding and researching a new car was perhaps the most exciting part of buying a car.  I would spend entire days looking at publications and books about the particular model. Often I would scratch a vehicle because I discovered something about it I didn’t know about or care for.   Later when the internet became ubiquitous, I saved reams of data for future use.)

67 xke cpeI loved that Jag.  It was powerful and sounded like a sports car should.  It had a synchromesh 1st gear , which the earlier versions didn’t, which made city driving easier.  I also loved the fact that it had 3 wipers on the windshield, nobody else had 3 wipers. People would still stop and look at the Jag as I drove by.  Later that year I saw a rerun of How to Steal a Million, with Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn, and at the end of the film Peter and Audrey drive away in a canary yellow convertible E-Type (called XKE in the US).  I started having doubts about the hardtop I had, and wishing it was a convertible.

One night I drove over to see my friend, David Weir, who had placed 4th in Le Mans in ’71, and was now a stockbroker with me in the Bache midtown office.  I figured he would admire the car and perhaps give me some pointers on driving it well.  Instead he insisted on driving the car himself, which I reluctantly agreed to. Unfortunately we had both been drinking that night, and David wanted to show me how “real race cars” were driven. 

David drove east on 84th Street and when he got to the light on 3rd Ave he waited till the traffic passed and then turned right at the red light (against traffic!).  (Manhattan has N-S avenues and E-W (even goes East) streets.  They usually alternate in direction.)

He said, “I bet I can make it to the next street before the lights turn green and the traffic arrives.”

67 E-TypeFortunately it was late at night and there wasn’t much traffic. He did this for 20 minutes, driving as fast as he could against traffic on the avenues, as the cars approached head on, and jumping off on a side street at the last minute.  I was stunned, scared and speechless. 

Finally he  drove up to his apartment and stopped. “It’s a nice car, thanks for the drive.” He said as he exited the Jag and stumbled into his building.   

I hid the car in the nearest underground parking, and walked home hoping nobody had taken down my license plate.

About this time, I met Mitzi and soon got married, and since we weren’t ready for kids, we bought a German Shepard puppy, we called Pasha.  I soon realised that we would need a larger car so we could drive to the country with our dog on the weekends.  While the pup was small we threw him in the back, or on Mitzi’s lap.  One weekend Mitzi got out of the car in the country and she passed out on the grass next to the car. She blamed it on her low blood pressure, and on the fact that the seats were low to the ground and she got out of the car quickly. Scared the shit out of me.  

Driving in Manhattan was becoming a serious problem for me.  Every time I drove in town, I was worried that somebody had seen David and me driving like crazy that night, and reported my plates to the cops.

I started to look for somebody to buy my E-Type.

Next: Mercedes Benz 250C