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OUT OF THE PAST: Irresistible 1969 Jaguar 420G convertible
Question of the Day
On his way to a dinner at the Watergate almost a quarter century ago, Ace Rosner parked his car in the underground garage. There, an unusual convertible arrested his attention. He was not acquainted with the model 420G Jaguar and further investigation was impossible because after dinner the car was gone.
More than a year later, in 1986, he saw what had to be the same car offered for sale in a newspaper ad. He promptly went to the McLean address in the ad where he confirmed the Jaguar was the one he had seen a year earlier. The seller permitted him to take it for a test drive. Upon his return there were several other prospective buyers waiting to see the car. He addressed the crowd by announcing that he was going to buy the right hand drive Jaguar. “The paint was terrible,” he says, “and the top was bad.” Still, he drove the car to his Northwest home. “Jaguar never made an ugly car,” he says.
Mr. Rosner sent his new acquisition to be repainted in the original burgundy color and to have a new convertible top and matching boot installed. Before the car was repainted, Mr. Rosner instructed the painter to remove the incorrect mirrors on the front fenders and fill in the holes, directions that went unheeded. Consequently, the Jaguar now has five mirrors, two incorrect ones on the fenders, two correct ones on the doors and the original one inside the car.
While searching for rubber moldings for the windows a supplier in Florida told him a story involving the car. He said the Jaguar is one of 10 such cars ever built. The story he was told was that a suitable car had to be found to transport Queen Elizabeth when she visited Australia. Mr. Rosner was informed that since royalty does not sit in the front seat with the driver, a four-door Jaguar sedan was converted into a two-door convertible. Supposedly, a total of 10 Jaguars were converted. Besides his car, Mr. Rosner has traced two of them, one in Connecticut and the other in Florida.
The side windows which on a sedan could be lowered into the rear door are now stationary. They can be lifted out and stored inside the trunk.
Mr. Rosner reports that his 16-foot, 8-inch-long Jaguar has a very thirsty twin overhead camshaft, 4.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine capped by a trio of S.U. carburetors. Atop each rear fender is a gas cap, each one leading to a nine-gallon tank. “When one runs dry,” Mr. Rosner says, “You flip a switch to go to the other one.” He says sardonically, “The three carburetors help it burn more gasoline.” The car has two fuel pumps as well as two exhaust pipes.
Of the four headlights, the outboard pair are mounted in the fenders while the inner pair are installed on the leading edge of the engine hood. A cowl vent draws fresh air into the car. Rear seat passengers are treated to heat vents, a nice touch if motoring among the citizenry in chilly weather with the electrically-operated top lowered.
The 14-inch wheels support the 121.5-inch wheelbase. The trunk is sufficiently large to permit the spare tire to be mounted vertically on the right side.
Passengers in the rear seat have at their disposal wood tables that are hinged in the back of the front seats. An armrest can be pulled down from the center of the seat back.
Both front seat occupants have a separate armrest. The optimistic 140 mph speedometer is visible through the two-spoke steering wheel on a telescopic steering column.
The dashboard is wood, as is the header above the windshield and the window frames. A package shelf under the dashboard extends the width of the Jaguar.
Mr. Rosner prefers top-down motoring in his rare Jaguar. Seated in the tan leather driver’s seat he observes, “This is a fast car.”
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