My passion for Jaguar began in 1975 aged just 7 years old. It was a neighbours Regency Red series 1 XJ6 that I found myself staring at for hours from my bedroom window – I had always liked cars but this felt very different. The following year another car caught my eye, it was in the “Top Trump” card game and it too was a Jaguar, this was the Jaguar XJ-S and from that day on I lived and breathed Jaguar. Visually the XJ and XJ-S were two very different cars but I found equal beauty with either shape and even today I couldn’t choose a favourite. Jaguar soon became my obsession and while my primary school friends collected football programs and Action Man, I was collecting Jaguar road tests and the latest Jaguar brochures from my local BL dealership. Tragedy struck in the summer of 1978 when I was banned from that dealership – Kennings ltd, Broadway, Peterborough. The ban was for taking every single brochure from their showroom without permission and from that day onwards I relied on the nice people at Jaguar to post me the latest literature, after they received regular calls (possibly too regular) from an extremely polite and complimentary schoolboy.
12 years on from that first XJ6 sighting and my wait is almost over. The months leading up to 24th Februray 1987 and very much against my parents wishes, I had been searching for a good Series 2 XJ6 4.2/ Daimler Sovereign 4.2. Prices then ranged from £600 – £2995. Only Having a £2000 total budget which included £850 insurance just left me a little over £1000 for my dream car. There were very few locally so I relied on the classifieds and soon realised that the cars in my price range all seemed to be around Leicester, Hinckley and Birmingham but unfortunately these were usually very tired, rusty examples. After covering literally 100’s of miles looking for the right car I came across BTV185T which was in the hands of a local motor dealer who just wanted a small profit for a quick turnaround. He was asking £1200 but we dealt at £950 and this got me one of the latest series 2 XJ6 4.2’s in the very popular Squadron Blue, 71,000 mile and just 2 owners. Ive no need to say how it felt owning one of these “World Beating” luxury cars for the very first time because I’m sure that every XJ owner grins from ear to ear for the first few months (as i did ) until it truly sinks in. That night I drove home to face the music, as my parents worried about the running costs and the fact I was just 18 years old. I sat outside my home for possibly 20 minutes before daring to go inside. I even thought I would rather leave home than be parted from this car. As I entered the lounge I mumbled to my parents “Come outside, I have something to show you”. As the 3 of us stood beside my forbidden purchase I could see that it was my mother who was least happy, so I suggested we go for a drive. While we listened to the lovely harmonies of the band Bread I drove gently and very considerately to show that this 2 tonne XJ6 wasn’t too much for a driver with only 6 months experience and its not long before I can see my parents are warming – well who couldn’t like a Jaguar XJ. Once home we agree a deal and I’m only allowed to keep it if I promise to let my parents use it for their 2 week trip to Devon in the summer – 2 weeks of sun without my Jag…..ouch, but I agreed. BTV185T instantly proved to be everything Jaguar said it would and after 6 months i decided to sell it as I yearned to own a V12. During that 6 month ownership it suffered slight blistering to the rear wheel arches, leaking exhausts and AED cold start problems which as we all know are typical issues of a cheaper used XJ from that period.
August 1987 and my search for a XJ12/Daimler Double-Six begins. My hunting no longer relies on the Midland Auto Trader but now the Exchange and Mart as Im now finding that most of the V12 saloons are in the London area. A month later I part with £4500 and a further £1500 for insurance after negotiating the purchase of a very unusual XJ from a company chairman who specialised in aviation & maritime sales. This was PPD662W a 6 year old Series 3 Daimler Double-Six 5.3 with 60,000 miles, a full Hadley Green Jaguar history. It was finished in Sebring Red and had the full Autosport body kit, BBS alloys and fully de-chromed – a far cry from a Sir William Lyons original. Usually I’m a purist and like my cars to be exactly as they left Coventry but this car actually remains my absolute favourite of all the Jaguars that Ive owned.
Over the next 8 years I own 20 Jaguars, 3 R.S Cosworths, 2 Rolls Royce’s and a Bentley Mulsanne. During this high ownership of Britain’s greatest automotive achievements, I’m constantly on the lookout for my schoolboy favourites – a mint Pre HE XJ-S and XJ12/Daimler Double-Six Series 2 saloon to keep forever. May 1995, now aged 27 I finally find a Series 2 V12 worth keeping. Its MCV549P, a 1976 Daimler Double-Six, finished in Greensand/Olive interior, 41,500 miles, a full A.J Beale Exeter/ Riders Falmouth main agent history and priced at £3495 privately in the JEC. The current owner had just retired and was looking to downsize. After several lengthy telephone calls I end up swapping a 1988/E Ford Granada 2.4 Ghia I for this V12 beauty. 22 years on and MCV549P (now registered XJI2) still hasn’t covered 47,000 miles and I still get that warmth of just looking at it as I did when I was a boy.
Over the next 3 years I own 6 more Jaguars, 1 Rolls Royce, 1 Cosworth and a Porsche 911, while continuing with my other search for an early XJ-S. This was to end in February 1998 (a month before my 30th birthday) when I’m offered to bid on a XJ-S which has been donated to the charity Elizabeth Fitzroy Holmes. After a viewing and a nudge from my ex-wife to increase my offer, my bid is successful, but only once I’ve spoken with the donator – this was to assure Mrs F.G Minter that her husbands car was going to a good home. Over our conversation she explains that although the car had been theirs from new, it had been registered to Freddie, his companies and now to the charity. She also told me that due to Freddie’s illness they and the car had spent the last 6 years between their Kensington and Switzerland homes – just like the 1977 original press advert! The telephone called proved positive and the deal was finalised and I’m now the proud owner of GYE88W (now XJS1) a December 1980, P Digital XJ-S finished in Racing Green Metallic/ Biscuit interior, 44,000 miles and a full Stratstone Mayfair/R.A Creamer Kensington service history. In my 19 years of ownership I’ve covered a mere 5,000 miles and I still find it hard to believe that I actually own a Jaguar XJ-S.
The following milestone purchase was a very unexpected one. After seeing several Lister 6.0/7.0 XJ-Ss on the front covers of “Fast Lane Magazine” during the late 80s I dreamt of owning one. But with price tags of between £90-£167k new, it was only ever to remain a dream – or so I thought. February 1999 finds me on the phone to Lister boss Laurence Pearce discussing a car he has for sale. This was his personal car – H969GGM a 1990 Lister Le-Mans 7.0 supercharged convertible which was the original road test car and the one used for the 200 mph top speed run in the 1991 car edition of the Guinness Book Of Records. A deal is eventually struck and my current 1986 R.S Cosworth 3 door and 1986 911 3.2 Carrera Coupe plus a briefcase full of cash is exchanged for this 604 bhp World Record breaking XJ-S. The Lister was a true beast of a car, coughing and spitting at low speed and only ever happy when driven quickly. Every figure about this Lister beauty was impressive from the cost new price of £167k, bhp of 604, engine size of 6996cc and top speed of 200 mph, even the low mpg of between 4 and 10 made me smile…. and cry. In reality this was a supercar for the very rich and I was certainly out of my depth, so after 4 years of hefty bills I decided to sell. To this day I’ve never felt power like it, and the sound of that 7.0 V12 (too loud for most) was just glorious, add to it the aggressive Le-Mans body and beautifully trimmed Recaro interior and you have an XJ-S that’s in Supercar league – which saw it road tested with the fastest production cars in the world like the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959. Even though my time with H969GGM was very much love hate, nothing could have stopped me buying it – but in hindsight the Cosworth 3dr and 911 would prove to be much better investments.
After the Lister the next 12 years sees me owning a further 15 Jaguars and 5 Porsche 911’s when my chopping and changing is to cease forever. After hearing the very sad news that Jaguar are to drop the wonderful XK range, I decide I must find a late example XKR to keep. After a 12 month search, I travel to Peter Vardy Jaguar (Aberdeen) to purchase the exact car I had wished for. This was a 2012 (facelift) XKR 5.0 Coupe (now registered H15 XKR) finished in Polaris white/ Charcoal interior with the Speed Black Pack, quad sports exhaust system and performance seats options. I call it “my modern XJ-S” and 12 months on I’ve had absolutely no issues – so you can have over 500bhp and reliability!
Since February 24th 1987 I have owned almost 50 Jaguars and have chosen just 3 cars to keep for evermore, but it the forth car in my life which is possibly the most important. This is a £500, 10 year old Mazda 6 2.0 petrol with 143,000 miles on the clock (registered XJ6 – I cant be too far away from an XJ6) and the car I use day to day to help preserve and keep the miles off my 3 classics. Thank you to Jaguar for building such amazing cars and for making the first 30 years of my Jaguar motoring life such a wonderful one.