May­nard Her­shon

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure - - Contents - May­nard Her­shon

A gen­uine en­thu­si­ast is iden­ti­fied by...

In the 60s, Jaguar built six spe­cial lightweight E-Types – cars in­tended to be raced. They were raced and fared well. A few still ex­ist, one in par­tic­u­lar re­built from a crum­pled mess. Those cars are worth mil­lions yet as valu­able as they are, their own­ers race them in vin­tage events. To­day, Jaguar is build­ing, away from any pro­duc­tion line and with a care­fully se­lected crew of crafts­peo­ple and man­age­ment, an iden­ti­cal num­ber of lightweight, alu­minium-bod­ied E-Type coupes, to be sold for maybe a mil­lion and a half euros. That’s each.

My wife and I just watched a 40-minute (In­side Jaguar – Net­flix) doc­u­men­tary fo­cus­ing on the con­struc­tion of the first car (all six are sold, locked up with size­able de­posits). These cars are not like to­day’s Nor­tons, Bon­nevilles or In­dian Scouts. They are as close to ex­act repli­cas as 21st cen­tury man can make them. They aren’t just Jaguar ‘brand’ cars or even looka­likes. They’re the old cars made anew.

Watch the video and see if you agree with me: They’re sell­ing these cars at a loss.

In the video, you learn why Jaguar would bother to do this. You learn a lit­tle about the prospec­tive own­ers but more about the gentle­men re­spon­si­ble for the de­ci­sions and con­struc­tion – from draw­ing board to gor­geous, fas­tid­i­ously recre­ated iconic au­to­mo­biles.

Jaguar wants to re­mind you that they are quite aware of the his­tory of their com­pany and their cars. They’d like you to know that they re­mem­ber and re­vere the men and women who con­trib­uted to that long his­tory. Af­ter all, many of their cars have been un­for­get­table cars – cars dreams are made of.

The men mak­ing these lovely cars fuss over ev­ery de­tail. Be­cause the orig­i­nal six cars had raw alu­minium in­te­ri­ors, so do these new ones. But the up­hol­stered parts of the new cars, the seats and in­sides of the doors, are cov­ered with leather so care­fully se­lected that any tiny flaw means re­jec­tion.

The ex­te­rior is fin­ished with coat af­ter coat of paint and hour af­ter hour of sanding and prepa­ra­tion.

At Jaguar, es­pe­cially in the Her­itage Section where the cars are be­ing built, they want the even­tual owner to love his car with pas­sion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion, not only for Jaguar’s spe­cial crew of mono­ma­ni­a­cal crafts­men and bosses but also for Jaguar lore and the com­pany’s decades of hon­estly heroic au­to­mo­biles.

In the film, we meet one fu­ture owner, a busi­ness­man from the Amer­i­can Mid­west who wanted to visit a car mid­way in its con­struc­tion. He seems a fine guy. He has a mod­est col­lec­tion (maybe 15 cars) of fine, sig­nif­i­cant au­to­mo­biles but his new recre­ated E-Type lightweight will surely be the stand­out in his heated, air-con­di­tioned stor­age build­ing. Maybe he has stud­ied Jaguar his­tory. Maybe he is in­spired with

How gen­uine does a gen­uine en­thu­si­ast need to be, re­ally? May­nard takes a side­long look at the world of ‘his­toric’ ve­hi­cles recre­ated for the priv­i­leged few.

awe at Jaguar’s proud record on the race­track and as the trans­port choice of so many re­spected driv­ers.

Ev­ery ef­fort has been made at Jaguar to de­light mar­que afi­ciona­dos. Six per­fect cars for six per­fect cus­tomers. Per­fect cus­tomers, life­long Jaguar freaks... who hap­pen to be able to pay for per­fec­tion.

Sell­ing such a car to a wealthy guy who buys pricey toys on a whim... un­think­able. A guy like that wouldn’t look at the riv­ets hold­ing the in­te­rior pan­els in place and mar­vel at the pre­cise place­ment of each rivet: why, they’re ex­actly where they were in the orig­i­nals!

It is guys who no­tice rivet place­ment that Jaguar hopes will own these cars.

I hope the peo­ple who buy them de­serve them. I hope they are not bought as in­vest­ments.

I’d feel like a dilet­tante if I bought one. I’m not a stu­dent of Jaguar his­tory. Sadly, only a few pure Jaguar en­thu­si­asts can af­ford such a costly ma­chine, let alone af­ford to use it on a race­track, where it ar­guably be­longs.

Un­less I miss my guess, it’ll be guys who al­ready have per­sonal air­craft and homes in Palm Springs fronting on pri­vate golf cour­ses. They’ve been aware of Jaguar all their lives but the com­pany’s rac­ing suc­cesses were long ago, at venues the guys may not have heard about.

I’m afraid that the gentle­men who buy these cars will de­light in know­ing that their golf­ing bud­dies can’t get one too. Af­ter all, there are only six. Hey, they’re his­toric. The new owner can scan the de­scrip­tions of the new ones and the old ones and drop names of driv­ers and cour­ses.

I’m afraid that Jaguar will sell these cars on a first­come, first-served ba­sis. If they do that, how will they de­ter­mine that the new own­ers know what they’re buy­ing and will be ap­pro­pri­ate care­tak­ers for those cars? Shouldn’t there be an in­ter­view re­quired be­fore a de­posit is taken?

What if Jaguar made the cars avail­able, not cheap but far cheaper, sell­ing them to peo­ple who have paid their dues in Jaguar cock­pits or in the stands or the pits at the races. Jaguar peo­ple, you could call them.

If they did that, Jaguar could see the joy and ex­cite­ment with which they built those six cars shin­ing in the eyes of the cars’ new own­ers. Gen­uine en­thu­si­ast ma­chin­ery should be owned by gen­uine en­thu­si­asts. Right?

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