RICK KRANZ

Fond memories of the Jaguar XK-E, and my cousin Buddy

1963 Jaguar XK-E
Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News

As a kid I envied my cousin, Buddy.

As a high school and later college student, Buddy had the coolest new cars, including one British coupe even non-enthusiasts would be talking about 50 years later.

Over a four-year stretch, Buddy drove a black 1959 Pontiac Catalina with tri-power, a a blue 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 with a 406-cubic inch V-8, and a 1964 Pontiac Catalina convertible with a special white paint. There also were two vehicles that eventually became classic sports cars.

The first Jaguar XK-E I saw in person was sitting on his family's driveway, it was either 1961 or 1962. It was Buddy's latest driver for school. The XK-E coupe, some call it the E-type, was new, of course, somewhat of a light beige metallic color, equipped with those awesome wire-spoke wheels. The car was beautiful -- a sleek shape with an incredibly long hood.

It was a hot summer day. I remember my dad getting behind the wheel, turning the key, pushing a button to start the Jag's engine. He carefully backed the Jag out of the driveway, carefully moved it into first gear, slowly released the clutch, and what seemed a snail's pace, slowly headed down the shade-covered street. I don't think he got beyond 25 mph through Chicago's Beverly neighborhood. I was too young to drive.

My memories of that XK-E were rekindled last month at the Geneva motor show. Jaguar celebrated the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of the car in Geneva back in 1961.

During its introduction in 1961, Enzo Ferrari reportedly called it "the most beautifulcar ever made."

It is considered one of the greatest automotive designs of the past century. The Museum of Modern Art in New York added the car to its permanent collection in 1996.

A half a century later, the car remains a head turner. The XK-E was attracting attention, this time at the recent New York auto show where it was featured in the Jaguar display.

Buddy's time behind the wheel of the Jag didn't last long. The following year he traded the XK-E for a red 1963 Corvette Sting Ray convertible.

The Vette lasted a few months, but this time his time behind the wheel was controlled by someone else.

The Vette was stolen near his fraternity house at the University of Illinois.

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