1968 Jaguar XK-E coupe came home to roost
“It was love at first sight when I took in the stunning looks of the car,” he said. The car, however, was locked, so he couldn’t get inside.
A year later, after service in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 5th Special Forces in An Loch, Mr. Hurt ordered an XK-E coupe through a program that permitted service members in Vietnam to order a car at a discounted price for delivery in the United States upon their return.
He studied the Jaguar brochure, and of the 13 available paint colors, he selected opalescent silver gray. He could have the interior upholstered in 11 different colors, but he chose black leather, which seemed to go with the exterior color, he said.
He had never even sat in one of the sleek Jaguars until July 19, 1968, when he took delivery at the dock in Baltimore. From there, he drove straight to Atlanta. “The coupe was my everyday driver for almost six years,” he said.
Air conditioning was not a factory option, Mr. Hurt said, and he thought the 4.2-liter, six-cylinder, 246-horsepower engine would not tolerate the extra load. “It is not for nothing that the bonnet has louvers in it to assist in cooling,” he observed.
Driving at night to beat the heat, Mr. Hurt and his Jaguar moved to Washington in 1970, where he had difficulty with his car’s upkeep. “I was operating an expensive car on a limited income and was worried that as it got some age on it, that a major repair would be a killer.”
After finding a good home for his beloved Jaguar, he sold it in October 1974.
That owner wrinkled the nose of the Jaguar in a minor traffic altercation, and in 1977, the car was put into storage with restoration plans in mind.
For more than two decades, the Jaguar languished in the owner’s barn. In 1998 Mr. Hurt learned that the man who bought his Jaguar still had it. “I called him and planned to go see the car with my friend and business partner, Frank Norton,” Mr. Hurt said.
To awaken the Jaguar from its 23-year slumber, Mr. Norton replaced all the rubber parts, the clutch master cylinder and slave cylinders; overhauled the carburetor; and replaced the spark plugs, ignition wires, oil pressure sending unit and countless other parts.
It was there that the long-dormant Jaguar was presented to a surprised Mr. Hurt. After a 26-year lapse, he had his Jaguar back. He wasn’t certain that it was actually his old car until he saw his 93rd Congress parking permit on the bumper.
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