Cat In The Clubhouse: This Modified FIA-Racer Jaguar E-Type Is Perfectly At Home In This Converted Countryside Barn
Photography by Patrice Minol
One of the car enthusiast’s perpetual problems is a lack of space to store stuff—whether these collections consist of half a dozen real cars, hundreds of amassed die-casts, stacks of mags and other automobilia, or just more hard drive space for the digitized aspects of our hobby. Whatever form this takes, it’s safe enough to say that we’ve all fantasized about the “perfect setup,” which probably looks a lot like this.
This is the Clubhouse, a converted farm building nestled in the bucolic hills of Warwickshire. Part of the compound that makes up Henry’s Car Barn—a storage and maintenance facility for some of the coolest cars in England, with three and a half decades of operations under its belt—the Clubhouse is one of the more recent additions to this countryside car mecca, and one of the better realizations of a gentleman racer’s utopic daydreams that I’ve come across in England, and elsewhere. The site is meant for hosting events like car reveals and such, but my visit granted me the chance to shoot one of Henry’s personal cars in the Clubhouse, which I think fits perfectly into its surroundings.
Outside of the circuits it was built for—this is a full-on FIA-spec car that gets driven much harder than its tidy Opalescent Silver Blue paintwork would have you believe—this souped E-Type looks utterly “at home” in these cozy digs. In its former life, this 1961 example spent a few decades under the ultraviolet in California, and upon its eventual return to its homeland, it was given a thorough restoration and round of modifications under the guidance of Richard Cresswell, a former Jaguar test driver and engineer who joined the company in the mid 1960s before setting up his own operation, VBE Restorations, in the 1990s. Thanks to hotter cams, triple Weber 45 DCOE carbs, a full circuit-spec exhaust, a 10:1 compression ratio, updated Lucas ignition, and a raft of supporting mods, the car now puts out about 320hp in this configuration—in other words, it’s a formidable feline. And it’s not at all bad looking, either. It’s the kind of car that can be thrashed at Brands Hatch in the morning and parked in front of a posh hotel in the evening—a trait that’s all but inherent to E-Types, but epitomized by examples like this one.
The elegance of the XKE design has been preserved, and its strong aesthetic impact is only heightened when Henry parks it in here. Good coffee, coffee tables strewn with all types of automotive-focused reading material, a fireplace, artworks, and a mezzanine space that boasts a high-end racing simulator complete the picture, which flows easily from architecture to nature through the barn’s glassy garage doors. It’s a pretty sweet space to rent, and given the means to build my own version I doubt that I’d deviate far from what Henry and his team have put together here.