Even judges are not immune from that wifely law that clearly states, as every wife knows, “Don’t bring it home until you check with me first.”

A judge in Nashville, Tenn., ignored that unwritten law in 1965 when he, without prior approval, became the third owner of a white 1957 Jaguar XK140 drophead coupe. Because the first and second owners had been doctors, the judge tried to convince his wife that the sleek car must be in good health.

Spotting fluids dripping onto the garage floor, the judge’s wife was not convinced.

Invoking the wifely law, she commanded, “Sell the car.”

That’s where young lawyer Jim Sasser entered the picture. He was practicing law in Nashville, loved the looks of the Jaguar, and quickly became the fourth owner. Fortunately, his wife, Mary, was a novice at the wife game and was unaware of the wifely law. “She was indifferent about the car,” Mr. Sasser recalls.

He soon learned the 14-foot, 8-inch-long car with the 3.4-liter, in-line six-cylinder engine, required 26.5 pints of oil and 30 pints of coolant to be happy. Keeping the fluid levels topped off and the 16.75-gallon gasoline tank full, he enjoyed the car during the next decade.

The small occasional seats behind the front bucket seats seemed to have been made for the Sassers’ young children when Elizabeth and Gray came along.

In the mid-1970s, with the odometer nearing 85,000 miles, the well-worn Jaguar was put in storage with restoration in mind.

In 1976, Mr. Sasser was elected to the U.S. Senate for the first of three terms, a Democrat representing Tennessee.

Finding time for the restoration was difficult, but, eventually, work on the Jaguar began. Mr. Sasser soon decided that the shop doing the work was taking too much time as well as charging more than he wanted to spend. Work ceased.

While visiting constituents in the mid-1990s, he saw an impressive, freshly restored car. The owner of the car told him that Robert Wooley in Rossville, Tenn., a little town outside of Memphis, was responsible for the outstanding restoration.

The senator’s car was auditioned and was deemed to be of restoration quality.

The work began about the time in 1995 when Mr. Sasser was appointed as U.S. ambassador to China.

When you are on one side of the world and your car is being restored on the other side, it is important to have a full measure of trust between the two parties.

While he was in China, his Jaguar’s engine was rebuilt, with a Type C cylinder head, as well as the four-speed manual transmission. One mechanic told Mr. Sasser that his transmission “looked like a Studebaker truck transmission.”

“There were a few teeth knocked off the first gear,” Mr. Sasser acknowledges.

A pair of S.U. carburetors flawlessly feed fuel to the powerful engine.

Four 6.00x16-inch Michelin tires are wrapped around a set of Dayton stainless-steel wire wheels that have never been dirty. They literally flash reflected sunlight as the Jaguar is driven down the street.

While all the brightwork on the Jaguar was sent off for replating, the steel shell of the car received several coats of Old English White to match the color it wore when it left the Coventry factory in Great Britain.

The highly polished wooden dashboard appears almost too perfect, from the twin ashtrays at the top to the cavities housing the 140-mph speedometer and the 6,000-rpm tachometer that red lines at 5,500. The rest of the cockpit is covered in either Connolly red leather or red carpeting. The black top is trimmed in red piping.

Comfortably settled in the drivers seat, Mr. Sasser adjusts the seat and black telescopic four-spoke steering wheel to his satisfaction while peering down the long hood through the two-piece windshield.

“This car is very dependable,” Mr. Sasser says. “It’s so unlike the early Jags,” he says, joking. He has been accused of treating his Jaguar more like a hobby than an automobile.

One of the identifying characteristics of the XK140 Jaguar is the strip of chrome on the trunk lid, which concludes in a combination tag light and backup light.

Mr. Sasser returned from China in July 1999 and rushed to the restoration shop. “It was all done but the top,” he recalls. He had the car trucked to a Rhode Island top shop.

In the early spring of 2001, Mr. Sasser received a telephone message from a truck driver saying his Jaguar was going to be delivered early the next morning.

Mr. Sasser arose with the sun and was sitting on the porch of his Northwest home drinking coffee when a truck rolled to a stop at 7 a.m. He anxiously awaited the completely restored Jaguar to roll out of the truck on is 102-inch wheelbase.

Since restoration the car has never been out in rain, Mr. Sasser says. The Jaguar only gets driven to local antique car shows and once a month the happy owner takes his beautiful car out for exercise on pretty days.

Mr. Sasser certainly doesn’t want to get his car dirty because, he says, “It’s been a work in progress for 25 years.”

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