This 1975 Jaguar XJ-C Is One Man’s Link To His Past
Why are pillarless super-’70s coupes so sexy? Do they represent a time in automotive design where cars were built to a standard, not to a price tag? They’re remarkably silly at times, for instance, the Jaguar XJ-C pictured below for instance has two, completely separate fuel tanks that are not only filled separately, but toggled separately as well.
When Christopher Glancy of Heavy Atelier got in touch about his latest acquisition, I was floored to see the level of care and restoration that had gone into a car that most would pass over. Read on to learn a bit more about why this particular Jag is so special to him.
Ted Gushue: Tell me the story of your 1975 Jaguar XJ-C.
Christopher Glancy: I was looking for this car for quite a long time. Searching online, searching virtually every nomenclature for the car—because there’s the XJC, the XJ6-C, XJ Coupe, they were referenced so many different ways. I couldn’t find anything that was of the quality and restoration that I was after. They have such a mixed history of being unreliable if not properly cared for, various electrical issues, things like that. One night, I was on YouTube late at night looking at videos of XJs, and came across one with over 15,000 views at the time. All it had was the owner’s email, not knowing where he was, or if the car was even his.
I shot him an email, and got a reply the next morning with his phone number and instructions to call him. I gave him a call, we ended up talking for over an hour. The first story he told me was how when he was young, he saw this car with a beautiful young girl in the back, and she looked out of the back quarter window at him, smiling. From that moment he knew that someday he had to own that car.
The car was originally a California car but had been living with the current owner in Pennsylvania for the past 15 years. Within a week, I had booked a flight to see the car and was able to purchase it from the owner who had taken amazingly good care of the car over the years.
TG: I love origin stories like that.
CG: While looking over the car in Pennsylvania, I ended up telling him the story of how my father had one of these back in the day and how I’d been trying to track one down for quite some time.
TG: Expand on that a bit. Why was this car significant to your father?
CG: My dad had an XJ6 in 1970, it was a Series I Sedan, he wasn’t even aware that a Coupé had come out around that time as they were so rare; I’ve been told about only 1,200 were originally imported to the US. I always remember looking through photo journals that he kept, specifically of one trip to Alaska from Detroit, where he and his friend hooked up a trailer to the back of a Jaguar, towed it from Detroit to British Columbia, ditched the jag with the Trailer in BC.
They took the two motorcycles on a Ferry over to Alaska, where they became the first people to ever do the Alaskan Trail on motorcycle. This was before the pipeline, before it was paved, it was truly the wild west of his time. They slept in sleeping bags on the side of the trail and documented their entire trip. They were both two bearded, hippie dudes. The photo journals have photos of them with knives, joking around, just two buddies on an adventure.
TG: And this was decades before hipsters would be able to post photos like this to Tumblr!
CG: [laughs] Yeah! My dad was so much of a hippie, that even when I say that he’s a hippy, he refutes the story.
TG: Ahhh, the mark of a true hippie.
CG: I grew up idolizing these photos of all of my dad’s toys back then, and he came from a very different lifestyle than I was raised in. His father, and his father’s father, and his father before him, were all part of the Detroit motor industry. All at GM—my great grandfather, Alfred R. Glancy, named Pontiac, for example. There’s a wing in the Detroit history museum of his toy train collection, too. But to me it was always this myth, because I never met any of them. My grandfather was murdered before I could ever meet him.
CG: It’s a long story. But essentially, my father moved his family from Detroit to South Florida to create his own legacy. He purchased 20 acres of endangered Rockridge Pineland and began a 30+ year process of restoring the rare and invaluable ecosystem to its original habitat. At the time growing up on this property I didn’t understand why he sacrificed so much, but now have immense appreciation and respect for what he has accomplished.
In my earlier years ,I grew up in a trailer, in the middle of the woods, but looked back at photos of my father with his parent’s huge mansion in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. So it was a very sort of ying and yang childhood.
TG: Do you feel that in some sense, by you tracking down this car, that you are reclaiming a sort of lost kingdom?
CG: Absolutely. Even if it’s just the nostalgia of it, I have a tremendous respect for the way that things like this Jaguar were engineered and built back then. I look towards that as sort of a design aspiration, compared to just leasing a new car.
For me, when it was time to invest in a another car I needed something that would tie me to the past, that I had a connection to, even if slightly removed. Not only was it a smart investment I believe, but something that I can continue to enjoy and preserve for my family in the future.
Photography by Ted Gushue // Historic photos supplied by Christopher Glancy