Jaguar Mark 1 Day at Brown's Lane
September 25th, 2005
Dan Davis 1959 3.4 Litre (Mark 1) RHD Auto Santa Monica, California
It is indeed rare for anything as mundane as a business trip
to turn out to have serendipitous results, but this is indeed what happened
Recently, I was able to close a deal in the UK which would require on-site
installation and training for a software application that I helped to develop.
Dates were set, and I looked forward to getting the opportunity to swing by
the Jaguar factory so I could visit the JDHT. As it happened, my trip was
being planned to put me in the neighborhood of the Jaguar factory on the last
Sunday of August, which meant that the JDHT museum would be open. I could
not believe my luck!
Then, as things seem to always do, the dates changed. I began to resign myself
to the fact that I would probably end up in the UK mid month, and only get
to peer through the fence. Then I happened across an article by the Jaguar
Drivers Club which mentioned that the factory, in conjunction with the club
was planning a special 50th anniversary celebration of the Mark 1, at the
factory on the 25th of September. Now this was just too good to be true! As
time wore on, it began to look more and more like the end of September was
a possibility, and then with a little gentle persuading, dates were once again
set, and this would put me in the right place, at the right time.
I left Los Angeles International on Friday evening, and arrived at Heathrow
Saturday at noon. Grabbed a shuttle bus to the rail station, and jumped on
a train bound for Coventry. I had secured a hotel room at what appeared to
be a fairly miserable hotel not far from the factory, and when I got there,
this was unfortunately confirmed, but as it was just a short walk to the factory,
I made the best of it.
Sunday turned out to be really much more than I would have hoped for. The
old gates to the factory headquarters were opened around 7am, with one recently
restored Mark 1 owned by the JDHT sitting by itself in the lot.
While I was checking this one over, others began to arrive. By 10AM 48 Mark1's
had taken positions in the parking lot, while on the other side, Mark2's,
240's, 340's, Stypes and Daimlers fought for space. In all I counted well
in excess of 100 saloon cars in attendance. Also present were several E-types,
a D-type, XK's, XJ's and the Ian Appleyard XK 120 ''NUB 120''. Also on display
was the former Coombs racing Mark 1, "BUY1".
The Jaguar Drivers club had arranged for a tour for the few days prior to
the event, and many of the Mark 1's at the celebration were driven to the
event from other points in Europe. As I reviewed the many excellent examples
I was pleased to meet with and chat with their owners about their cars, their
restorations and the was very happy to find that they each shared the same
enormous passion for their cars as I did.
The JDHT museum was well stocked, with Swallows, an SS1, A very rare Airline
Saloon, a wonderful example of the XKSS, along with a lightweight E-type,
a C-type and the XJ13. Here, I met Norman Dewis who was kind enough to supply
an autograph, using the Bonnet of the XJ13 as a writing table. This will be
a treasured keepsake! Outside was an Autojumble where I picked up a few spares
that I was later able to get through customs, while inside the studio Nigel
Thorley gave a presentation on the history of the Mark 1 and 2, and Gary Albrighton
the project engineer for the XK180 talked about the development of Jaguars
new XK car. I was also pleased to meet Julia Simpson, the archivist for the
JDHT who told me that they were having a special on heritage certificates,
and I was happy to take her up on it! I have taken many photographs of the
event, many of which are shown below:
I have identified many of the pictures in the list below, as
always, please click picture for a larger version
October 17, 2005