(Parts of this story previously published in the OJOA newsletter. This is an expanded and more detailed version)
Well then its official, I am a "Jaguar pusher", at least according to my mother in law, because I have converted my whole family.
I am in fact a proud papa with four delightful kids, all grown up now and well into the “20 somethin’s”.
All of us were together crowded into our happy little home, until one by one the offspring left to make their own lives. Recently our son moved out and I am typing this from my office that used to be his bedroom. We love our kids but we’ve changed the locks and they can’t come back! LOL.
All of the kids are Jaguar nuts and so is their mother and it’s all my fault. In fact we had not been dating more than a couple of months when the future "MrsV12" was in my garage n a freezing cold November Saturday night laying under my grey XJ12 with me, working on it and getting Jaguar grease under her gorgeous nails straight from the bottom of a V12 engine. That by the way is when I knew I had to keep her. To this day "MrsV12" is a driving force (pun intended) for building our collection, this year she wants to add an E-Type and a Series 1 XJ 12 and a Norton Commando. We have a line on a 47 MK IV DHC that she hears about and wants to pursue, but we really want a certain club members 1950 MKV Jaguar sedan badly and now she tells me she loves the XJ220! She actually got mad at me for not telling her about the XJ220, and I should start making room for these cars after all we have to put them somewhere... not to make anyone envious but this is shocking stuff!
How many cars must I buy in order to maintain matrimonial harmony!!
I am just going to have to put my foot down one day...
on the accelerator.
I did infect MrsV12 fairly early I must say, maybe it was my charming wit but she loves Jaguars as much as I do, has become the club secretary as well as a Concours judge.
My two biological daughters have always loved Jags having grown up with Jags in the drive as long as they can remember and attending every annual Jag club Concours we could.
My oldest daughter got to drive the green ‘87 XJ-12 on her 15th birthday, she was shocked when I told her to get in behind the wheel let me tell you. (Uhh by the way, it was an empty parking lot I am not totally whacked out) Anyway her little sister whenever she was given the chance to do school essays on topics of her choice, chose Jaguar cars, on her own no nudging from me!
Our only boy is the oldest and he is 26, when he was 22 got his first car ever, a rough around the edges but low mileage XJ40, even though he never even showed any interest in cars till very close to his birthday. Though he was my step son then and though I have known him since he was a year old his mom. As it goes with boy’s it took a while for me to grow on him and for him to want to accept me as an example of any kind in his life. Since then we have had a full adoption of all the kids so even as adults there are no more “step kids” they are all ours. I have four adult kids who call me “Dad”!
Up till about two years ago he didn't give a hoot about cars; they weren't even on his radar and he really knew nothing about cars and cared even less. He has been working with me in my construction business during summers since 2005 when he was 16 and I know that we bonded a little bit then but still, no car stuff at all. Oh he went around with me in both of the XJ-12’s and the XJ-S all of the cars in fact but nothing really sunk in at all.
Gradually we got closer and closer and one day he started asking about cars. He came to a few “cruise nights” with me and having owned around 500 vehicles more or less, I pointed out the cars I haven’t owned. (The list is shorter). He started asking about Jaguars specifically.
Then he wanted some basics to do with engines, and on and on. He saw my enthusiasm and how my whole demeanor would change when we were in the presence of an interesting Jaguar. I love telling stories about Jaguar cars and significant engines and he was a constant victim.
Then in spring of 2010 when I took out the XJ-S for the first trip of the year I had the top down going through our little forest driveway to the street and he was walking out to catch a bus to work. I pulled over and offered him a ride and twenty minutes later when I dropped him off he was talking cars. Voila! It was as if a light got turned on inside him. He had become interested and I was happy for it. He had become or more accurately, decided to become a “car guy” and later on specifically a Jaguar guy.
Well you cannot ask for more than that, as a step parent you are sometimes the monster or most times when you are into a teenager’s life you are the “awkward middle aged guy who married mom, who thinks he is going to run my life blah blah blah”. My second youngest daughter, well I won’t tell the back story here but my former step daughter (his sister obviously) was first to legally change her last name to mine. I ask you does it get any better than that? Well, if she became a Jaguar anorak like the rest of us, yes it could be perfect, but five out of six ain’t bad. Besides she does like Jag’s, just not enough to kill to get one that’s all, but we think she might come around. She lives in New York City now and every time she spots a Jag or any British car or an interesting car, she emails me to say she misses home. What a sweet kid!
These days for any kid to want to follow in their father’s footsteps is rare. Rarer still is for a father and son to actually share a hobby or a pastime. It happens sure, but when it does it is notable. So here is a stepson who had taken an interest and developed a parental bond with me. Truth is he felt like my boy long before he got the Jag, and he didn’t need to get that Jag to make me proud of him either. But the fact that he chose it speaks to me just as loud as his sister being the first one to change her name to mine, makes me just swell up with pride really. My Youngest (biological) daughter was under cars with me when she was old enough to crawl. My oldest daughter was terrified of running motorcycles but my youngest had to be held back, she wanted to touch the hot engine. A bit different that one. So there’s no question as to where my family got their jaguar predilections, the source was me. So what about me, where did I get the bug?
I want to preface my final point with my personal E-Type story and in fact the entire reason for this story being written at all, as well as the reason I am a Jag club member today.
In my teens Jag’s were not on my radar at all. Mustang’s and Camaro’s were, John Milner’s Deuce Coupe was top of my list and Corvettes were a mild interest. It took a man who would become special and ultimately have a major impact on my life to bring Jag’s to the forefront of my automotive dreams, here is that story.
I was 16 years old in the mid-seventies and I had a brand new learner’s permit. I had an older friend in the neighborhood who had taken to mentoring me and he was kind of a local hero and like a big brother to many kids my age.
My father had died when I was 14 and I really was starting to drift a bit in life at that point so I am glad my friend was there. He took note and special interest in my family and we really felt special. What I didn’t understand t the time was that he did the same thing for dozens of families. When you were in his presence all the attention was on you. He listened well and had a way of making anyone feel a bit lifted when he spoke with them. He also had a willow green 73 E-Type fixed head Coupe (automatic trans). It was nearly new in fact and he let me drive it with my learners permit, and here begins the rest of the story.
He took me to a deserted rural road north of Toronto (Steeles Ave if you can imagine) and put me in that Connolly leather driver’s seat and after a brief tour of the controls told me put in gear and floor it, I did. He told me to keep my foot to the mat until he said to let up. I got very nervous when we got close to a hundred MPH, and he said to me “OK stand on the brakes”. When I did he yelled “HARDER” I actually lifted myself out of the seat literally standing on that pedal, and it came to a very smooth straight stop. Then he said “OK now you know what the car can do, let’s go for a drive.”
I couldn’t believe what he had just let me do. It almost brings tears to me now thinking about what a trust that was... what a teenage RUSH that was! My life was changed forever, and the fact that anyone would trust a 16-year-old kid to do that is astounding to me in retrospect. The 50th anniversary of the E-Type was very special to me because of my story and I need to get one to add to our collection as a salute to my friend who started it all.
Anyway I fell in love with Jaguars that day and have yearned incessantly to collect as many Jags as I can afford to buy and keep. That same older friend died of skin cancer the following year when I was 17 and his was the first funeral I ever attended. Today that number exceeds 50 funerals and I have to say, it brought perspective to the whole thing and what is really important in life. I still remember the moment that I knew I needed to own a Jaguar and I know where and when the seed was planted. That is why it is important to me to know that my four children but especially my son has respected me and wanted to honour me by making a choice that would identify with me. All of my kids and even my wife the apprentice Concours judge love Jags because of me. I passed on the passion from my friend who helped me through my teenage years.
This is more of a personal thing because at the end of the day or your life, cars are not really going to be that important. The people you have affected in your life will be. I am glad I can say I have used my passion for good and to benefit those around me.
I don’t think everyone will have a story like I have, but for every one of you, there was a day when you knew that you wanted a Jag. So that is what I am asking you to remember here, how and even when did it start for you?
When working under your Jaguar be certain to secure it well.
While there is a measure of prestige involved in being crushed to death by a Jaguar, especially a V-12, bear in mind the results are rather permanent.
Our Collection consists of these cars to date:
85’ XJ-6 base model. My Daily driver, yes even in snow
62 MK 10 Our wedding car
89' XJ 12 VDP. My ultimate Jag
89'XJS V12 convertible. MrsV12 has stolen this car and I’m never getting it back
87' XJ 12 VDP. (parts car??) Yes the car in the story, sad but true.
89' XJ-S Convertible parts car. It ran when parked!
1949 Daimler Barker db18 Special Sports Drop Head Coupe. The previous owner vetted me for two years before telling me that I was to keep it after he "kicked the bucket".