|Our original Duchess, East Hampton, circa 1995|
Jaguar built the 420 model for only two years -- 1967 and 1968 -- and of that run, only a very small percentage were built for the American (e.g., left hand drive) market. The owner had backed the car into the garage so that the first thing we saw as the garage door rolled open was the car's Rolls Royce-like grille. One look, and we were hooked. We bought the car, named her the Duchess and three years later when we relocated to the end of Long Island, we shipped her out to join us.
For the first four years, we drove the Duchess during the temperate months and garaged her all winter with Chris's employers. Then Chris switched jobs and we lost the winter storage facility. Build a garage at our East Hampton house, or sell the car? Chris's vote, of course, was to build a garage, but neither that nor paying for storage was in the budget. So with great reluctance, we sold the car, assuring each other than someday we'd be in a position to own another classic Jag. (Like when we had a garage.)
Chris has mourned the loss of that car for almost twenty years. And for at least fifteen of them, he's been plugged into search engines, watching to see when other Jag 420s came on the market and tracking sales. Twice, he's been excited enough about a listing to visit a car in person, but found they needed too much work or were mechanically unsound.
And then, in September, he found it...and I knew I would lose any argument against purchasing the car. Because while we still don't have a garage, we do have a winter retreat. And we need a car while there.
|Our "new" Dutchess, before her new vanity plates|
Enter the Duchess, redux.
She's painted a curious color called Alpine Green (I call it Lederhosen), her cream interior is original and in excellent shape. As is the rest of her. She has only 56,000 original miles on her.
She's about to get 3,000 miles more, because we are driving her cross country to California, where she'll never suffer road salt damage and where we have family who have garages where we can store her when we're not around.
To say Chris is nervous as a cat about driving his baby across the country would understate it.
But I think it will be an adventure, one I plan to blog about as we make our weeklong journey from East Coast to West Coast, watching the weather closely and planning our route accordingly. (This, alas, will NOT be the year we stop for Starbucks in Vail.)
Will we make it intact, without calling AAA or, worse, having to rent a UHaul and tow a flagging Duchess behind?
Watch this space for news....