Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Search Is Ended!

The Roller Skate, 2008
Some time back, I wrote a little piece about my inability to find anything worthy of replacing my little roller-skate. Seems no new convertibles have the combination of looks, luxury, legroom and, most importantly, trunk space that I need for the kind of long trips I take down the back-roads of North America.

As everyone who knows me has heard, this Jaguar XK-8 is not the car I wanted. My dream car is a 1961 Series 1 Jaguar E-Type roadster. My first-runner-up dream car is a 1949-1953 Jaguar XK-120. My second-runner-up dream car is a 1954-1957 Jaguar XK-140. Those are the three most beautiful cars ever to come off any assembly line, anywhere.

First Choice
Unfortunately, they don't come with mechanics, and while I can change the oil (or could, if I needed to) and change a tire (and have, too many times) and put gas in the tank (again, done that too many times), that's about it. So when I got to the point where I felt I could afford that sort of indulgence, I decided that, I'm not the kind of guy who can keep one of those gorgeous classic Jags up and running. Not to mention that those old brakes fade when they get wet, and you have to put additives in the unleaded fuel we have now, and there was no such thing as anti-lock brakes, or crumple zones, or all the other things we now take for granted, when these cars were built. And comfort was a luxury undreamt-of in a roadster back then.

Second Choice. Photo by Paul Fisher.
Hence, the roller skate. It's almost as pretty as an E-Type, and much nicer for long road trips. It has a modern suspension system, and air conditioning, anti-lock brakes and traction control and all kinds of bells and whistles that didn't exist as concepts when the E-Type was on the drawing board. And, despite Jaguar's well-deserved reputation as "the prettiest car you'll ever see broken down by the side of the road," it's been a good car. Still is, even with 130,000 miles on it. It's only broken down twice in the years I've had it: once while in warranty, when the rack-and-pinion was replaced and the new one lost a seal after 12 miles and had to be replaced again; and once in the Upper Midwest, when the insulation on an electrical line wore through and blew the fuse for the fuel pump ... over and over, until at last I had it towed to a Jag dealer in suburban Detroit, where the problem was identified and repaired. (That problem, I thought, was the sort of thing a first-year Electrical Engineering student would have known how to prevent.)

But I come from a time when you didn't keep a car past 100,000 miles. They just didn't last that long. I know, intellectually, that these days they do, and I figure I ought to be able to get 200,000 miles, or close to it, out of that car. They're all highway miles, you know, very little city driving on those wheels.

But emotionally I'm already grieving for the Roller Skate, which I feel will die any day (or become too expensive to keep; same thing, in a car), and some time back I started looking for a replacement car. But I found nothing. Everything is too ugly, or fails on some essential criteria ... most often, the trunk space with the top down.

But now, everything is changed. The search is ended. My next convertible is out there, just waiting for me. Not only is it a gorgeous, luxurious convertible, it is actually even prettier than the 1961 Jaguar E-Type. It is the Eagle Speedster Lightweight.
Handmade by the world's premier restorer of classic Jaguars, this all-new car captures the beauty of the E-type and marries it to the most current technology.
And it's only about $800,000.

I figure in a few years, when my little roller skate finally does give out, I ought to be able to pick one up second-hand. In the meantime, I'm saving up my pocket change.

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