Pristine Jag has curve appeal
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Immaculate 1966 Jaguar E-Type is impressing the judges
Meeting Roger Munns' 1966 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 fixed-head coupe was like meeting a VIP, and not just because a worldwide poll in 2015 voted the E-Type as the best British car ever.
Roger's example was then poised to enter the annual Ellerslie Concours d'Elegance Master Class -- which accepts just seven immaculately presented entries -- where it came third, in a contest where a misplaced stitch in the leather or the incorrect finish on a single undercarriage screw could mark a car down.
He's not mourning its relegation, for there's barely time to repolish those luscious curves before the car's second public outing this year, as a star at the launch of the first annual Auckland Classic Brit and Euro Car show. The free event takes place on March 6 at Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, initiated by the Jaguar club and open to any Euro, in any condition -- though the emphasis is on classics.
I got a sneak peak at the venue, alongside Howick Historic Village, aboard Roger's Jag, nestled into the red leather, the silky paint and flashing chrome: you can't help but feel you should have dressed up for a car like this.
Roger has been mad about cars since childhood, and bought an old MG to rally and race after leaving school. But a rare opportunity to get behind the wheel of Ray Archibald's 1963 E-Type sparked a love affair, and he decided he would own one one day.
Roll on 2006, and though he already had a 1953 Jaguar XK120 fixed-head coupe, when the opportunity to buy this E-Type came up he commenced negotiations and bought it. After all it boasted the same colour scheme as the Archibald car, though this one had the 4.2-litre in-line six with 198kW and 385Nm, both peaking at 5400rpm, and capable of zero to 100km/h in seven seconds en route to a top speed of 246km/h.
Picture / Jacqui Madelin
The car was built in October 1966, one of 271 right-hand-drive 4.2-litre fixed-head coupes built that year, and sold on February 24, 1967, to a wealthy Christchurch family, before it slowly passed from hand to hand, ending up in Auckland. The previous owner had it for about 32 years and it was reasonably rough -- it had failed its WOF and the rego was on hold — but it was complete. "I thought I'd just tidy it up a bit and use it, but when I took it to the painter we realised we couldn't just touch it up, so we decided we might as well strip it ... " Given he'd already restored the XK, the next step was logical.
"I do as much as I can myself, but I don't have the engine tools so things like motors and transmissions go to the experts." Roger was concerned about oil pressure and a small knock, so he had the motor rebuilt. The four-speed manual gearbox was fine, as was the diff, but the suspension got new shocks, correct for the period.
"Some body work was needed -- there was some rust in the doors and the rear end, and the brakes only needed new pads."
Roger likes originality, so the bolts are all the original and the steering wheel is the original, "The wood was split, and I spent hours and hours putting it back together." Only the wheels have changed -- the original competition wire wheels remained on the car until three years before Roger bought it, when someone convinced the owner to swap for ordinary wire wheels, with two lacings not three. He'd like to find the competition wheels.
Picture / Jacqui Madelin
Impressively, though the car was professionally painted and upholstered, Roger did the rest: that the car looks this good is a testament to his skill.
Roger's not likely to get bored now his E-Type is finished. Apart from driving it, he races historic cars -- a 1966 Brabham single-seater, a 1961 Lotus 20 single-seater, and a 1954 Buckler. And there's a 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta hoisted into the garage roof to await restoration, "I really enjoy it, though I'm a salesman by trade, not a mechanic."
What now for the Jag? "I'd like to keep the kilometres down, but I want to use the car. I'll drive it as a club car, like the XK. We've been to Rotorua and Whangarei in it, and ultimately I wouldn't hesitate to take it to the South Island."
Roger does love driving these classics, their patina, even the fact that both Jags are somewhat tail-heavy: "I find modern cars reasonably boring."
The Auckland Classic Brit and Euro Car show certainly won't be boring. By mid January nearly 500 cars had already entered, but we'd like to bet Roger's E-Type will still stand out.
Pictures / Jacqui Madelin