1974 Jaguar XKE 150
By Mike Cohen
Remember this one? It was 1974, the last year this baby was produced in the Jaguar factory back in the days before it was bought and ruined, in my opinion, by Ford. I got one of the last ones. My wife was driving down the road and saw the thing sitting in a showroom floor. She called me immediately and I drove over to meet her there. As soon as I saw it I fell in love. It was a sort of Mustard Yellow which they called some kind of Green – you know those wild and wacky British folks. It was a convertible. It had a manual transmission and that awesome 12 cylinder V engine, revolutionary for its day. My wife was absolutely swooning over it and at $5,000 which for 1974 was pretty steep she had to have it.
That car was the absolute best car I’ve ever driven before or since and I’ve owned a lot of really fine, unique cars through the years. But that Jaguar XKE 150 was the absolute best. It was the kind of car that no matter where you were, when you pulled into a gas station, and back then there were still guys who ran out and pumped your gas for you without you having to pay a premium for the service, they called the other guys to come outside and take a look at the engine. So there you’d sit with three or four guys marveling over the absolute beauty of a V12 Jaguar engine purring softly while you filled up with gas at less than a dollar a gallon. And then they gently closed that hood, and watched in awe as you hit the streets with that sleek, bullet of a car and drove away.
The only problem with the car, and it was huge, was that everything that made the car go was connected to the electrical system and the electrical system was universally acclaimed by people in the know to be one of the worst nightmares ever conceived. And it was true. No matter how many times that car was serviced it promptly broke down and had to go back to the shop. And it would happen in the most inopportune places – while driving on the freeway in the heat of summer it would overheat and cause all activity to stop or while sitting at a stoplight as you caught the admiring glances of people nearby it would cough and sputter and then die. But when that car was running, which was not nearly enough of the time I owned it, it was the absolute best driving experience I’ve ever had, bar none. Without even giving the phenomenal value the car would bring today a second thought, I wish I still owned it. Even today it would still stop traffic, draw attention from anyone who saw it and still, yes sadly, still end up spending more time in the shop than on the street. And it would still be well worth it.
Performance Car Update
If you like high performance cars, want to know about great car sites, and the latest news on my race car project then the Performance Car Update newsletter is for you. It's published every other week - enter your email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) below to join. I won't share your information with anyone else. You have my word on it.
Posted February 20, 2006