This Mechanically Perfect And Patina-Laden Jaguar E-Type Is The Best Of Both Worlds
Photography by Tom Hains
If you’ve ever restored a car (or a bike, a plane, even a piece of agricultural equipment), have you ever looked at it again after all the time and money was spent and wished it weren’t so perfect? Glass-smooth panels with gaps between them more uniform than they ever came from the factory, coated in beautifully unblemished paint that picks up every reflection with unwavering clarity from bonnet to wing to door—it’s hard to imagine trading back to the blemished starting point once you’ve come out the other side.
This isn’t a manifesto against restoration, and this particular Jaguar makes a case for both sides of the argument. Few topics divide classic car enthusiasts more than the issue of whether a restoration brings back former glory or simply erases history. For a time, this argument was part of the characterization of the stereotypical Americans and the stereotypical Europeans; all shine and wax versus the slightly decayed gentleman’s club look. Look at almost any car scene in the world today and you will find representations of both sides, but it’s the cars that straddle the line that can be the most compelling.
This E-Type isn’t about to win an originality contest nor a concours, but it’s all the more interesting for those reasons. The owner of this car, collector and restorer Nick Wogan, appreciates both ends of the spectrum, and has put this E-Type almost squarely in the middle of it. The mechanical elements have been thoroughly and carefully gone through, the interior has been treated to a gentle and light-touch refurb (no overstuffed seats with crappy leather covers in this one), but the exterior has been left totally alone, a conspicuous reminder of the car’s true age.
This 1961 E-Type isn’t his only vintage mode of transportation, and casting an eye around his hangar of wonderful vehicles—cars and planes alike—one realizes that Nick appreciates both sides of his Jaguar’s juxtaposition. His Aston DB4 and Citroën 2CV present as if they were new, but when it came time to dig into the E-Type, he wanted to make sure its link to the past was not only preserved, but highlighted.
It is car number 92 from the E-Type production line—a “flat floor” 3.8L car—and was the very first example of the model with recessed bonnet catches. Nick was fortunate to track this righthand-drive example down about three years ago, and since then he has embarked on his program of change—it’s not a full restoration, it’s not a restomod, and it’s not even really what people call a “sympathetic” restoration. Whatever you call it—targeted treatment perhaps?—the end result is a beautiful ode to the car’s past mixed with a mechanical refurb that has it ready for a long future. This isn’t anything like a teenager’s tired econobox with an intentionally rusted hood, either.
Nick invested in getting the mechanicals sorted out first, while the interior received some attention where needed but was kept as original as possible. It didn’t present with nearly the same level of patina as the bodywork, but there are still patches of the past visible inside the cabin. The exterior on the other hand displays its rust and crust in all their glory. From the dent in the door, one’s imagination starts to fill in the story: was this from some early owner losing it on a wet roundabout and being lucky to just clip a Ford Anglia? The impact crater from a pub brawl that tumbled outside to the street? One is also reminded that the E-Types always rusted on the wing top by the door (a terrible water trap), and there is also a telling piece of this specific car’s history on display; namely that the bonnet close geometry was tweaked on the second day of ownership by the clumsy hand of some spotty mechanic who may not have seen those recessed catches before.
The car’s past is still part of its present, and wherever those signs of age lead the mind to wander to, it’s just more fun to look at a car like this than to see an apparently flawless example. There is a place and a community for all types, but this E-Type has a tire in each corner and is all the better for it.