This lovely old motorcar was sold to me by the original owner, a now elderly lady who used it primarily to be chauffeured for shopping and for polo matches on adjoining estates on Boston's north shore. Because she was raised in England her American born husband in 1950 bought it because he felt she would like something "a bit British".
This car is the rare export model, which means it has left steering and the larger 3.5 liter pushrod engine. This was the last hurrah for the old prewar engine design, since the new XK engine was already developed and being installed in a new roadster model, the XK120. The sunroof and elegant mahogany reveals around the windows, sunroof, and elaborate dash combine with the red leather interior (coordinated with the red pinstripe the length of the car) feel luxurious. The car is extremely stylish, with lines borrowed from the late prewar Bentleys, and most people first seeing the large car assume it is a Rolls-Bentley (I'm glad it isn't).
When I was negotiating the purchase of the car from its original owner, I heard over tea some of stories of her upbringing at a chateau on the coast of France in the early 1930's. She knew from my arrivals in interesting motorcars that I liked the classics, so she told me of the automotive events of her childhood. Every Thursday there would be a Concourse d'Elegance at one of the estates, and these were nothing more than events to show off your handsome chauffeur and motorcar. The correct arrival would be in an open drive limousine (town car), and it was important that there should be not only a driver but also a coachman, in matching uniforms, because "the driver never leaves his post at the wheel." So upon arrival it is the coachman that emerges from the front of the car, opens the door, and as the young lady alights, hands her the miniature poodle.
Mind you there were bread lines in New York City at this time! But in these discussions I was learning important details about the automotive scene relating to my fine cars. For example, I learned about the correct chauffeurs uniform. The style was entirely a matter of taste, but color was carefully proscribed. The basic uniform must simply match the color of the car, and must be trimmed at the cuffs, collar, and trouser stripe in the color of the interior fabric of the car. Thus the uniform for my car would have been grey with red trim.
What I like most about this car is the way some of its appointments reveal such a difference in life style. Most interesting is the trunk lid, which is hinged at the bottom and opens with a handle at the top. The open lid then becomes a level picnic table. Moreover, contained within the lid is the spare tool kit, which is then always accessible whatever the luggage load. And most curious are the clamp locks which securely lock the lid in the open position, also revealing 4 mounting hooks for leather luggage straps. All this was so you could pile your trunk high with hampers and wicker furniture and tightly strap it all down to go motoring off for your weekend by the seashore.
For an old car connoisseur, nothing can beat the thrill of finding a neglected old car in a barn, bringing it home, and bringing it back to life. I remember the day we trucked the Jaguar home, cleaned out the squirrels nests, wahed the paint and polished the chrome. But there would be endless thrill of discovery of all the old car's jewels. Wow! The fuel guage low-fuel warning light still works! And the automatic self-parking windscreen wipers just need adjustment! But it would then take many hours of hard work, including a total engine rebuild with parts flown in from England, to really bring it back to life.
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