Featured: This Mechanically Perfect And Patina-Laden Jaguar E-Type Is The Best Of Both Worlds

This Mechanically Perfect And Patina-Laden Jaguar E-Type Is The Best Of Both Worlds

Tom Hains By Tom Hains
September 28, 2020
6 comments

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.

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SigregnfcMarkPluckyoldsod62Jackson Mccurdy Recent comment authors
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Si
Si

I agree with all the sentiments expressed. Having made a similar decision a couple of years ago with our EType, we opted for a respray even though ours was genuinely patinated and not neglected as such. I suppose it all comes down to personal choice if the intention isn’t value related. As an artistic statement, however, I appreciate the contrast between a pristine engine bay and tatty exterior, it’s different and sticks two fingers up at the show pony vintage car crowd.

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gregnfc
gregnfc

The idea of a ‘frame off’ restoration is amusing for a car without a frame. The unique and innovative E Type monocoque design means that rust to the body – especially prodigious rust like this example – is rust to the integrity of the car itself. It is a disaster waiting to happen. I have seen more than one neglected rusty e type actually buckle at the back door seams from rot and rust inside the rocker panels. An extreme example to be sure, but small cracks in the paint just below rear door seams is very common. If this… Read more »

MarkP
MarkP

There is a certain amount of appeal to seeing the car in its rusted state, but as mentioned here, there is a difference between an old car showing its age, and a car that’s been seriously neglected. In this case, there’s not much you can do about it, you either leave it as the owner Nick has done, or you remove the paint and rust and repaint it, leaving it looking quite new. Or you could just paint over the rust… ? If you spent a fortune you might be able to artfully craft it to look as though it… Read more »

luckyoldsod62
luckyoldsod62

I’d shake Nicks hand , beauty is in the eye of the beholder , I’d love to be in the position to make that decision, and couldn’t honestly say I’d leave it , I’ll probably never know , but I look at that car that’s as old as me , and probably in better nick , and I wish it could tell me it’s life stories , it’s a wonderful car , still on the road and not a show pony .

kcabpilot
kcabpilot

There is a difference between patina and abject neglect. A well worn pair of jeans vs a pair of jeans left under a tree in the woods for a year as an example. Patina is smooth and shows evidence of a hand at work and constant use. What you are showing with this XKE is a prolonged lack of attention resulting in decay. I understand the essence of the article but to pay mind to the mechanical bits and do absolutely nothing to at least try and mitigate the deterioration of the external structures is just plain odd.

Jackson Mccurdy
Jackson Mccurdy

Kcabpilot, I signed on to comment on this and read what you wrote and you already said the same thing that I was planning to say. You are absolutely right. This thing needs some body work and a paint job. I don’t think it needs one of those frame off restorations where it’s so perfect that it is no longer driven. I wouldn’t even want to paint and do body work if it was what this guy is describing, some”patina”, even a few small dent and dings would be fine for a driver. This thing is getting very close to… Read more »