Collector's Showcase

In this edition, we speak with a longtime collector from Texas who commissioned us to restore a 1965 Jaguar XKE Roadster to a Show/Driver level, and discuss some of his passions...

QUESTION: How long have you been a car collector?

ANSWER: I have been a car collector since my earliest days of life. As my mother explains it I never left home without a car in my pocket. As a kid I was so enamored with Mustangs that I even named one of my Aunts "Mustang Molly" because she drove a Mustang. More seriously, my car collection really began about 33 years ago when I bought a house without a garage and immediately constructed a single car garage. Within a couple of months after the garage was finished I acquired my first collector car. Of course, being from Texas, that first car was a 1976 Chevy truck that I fixed up.

QUESTION: What kind of cars do you have in your collection?

ANSWER: Today I have 7 cars in my garage but it is growing because I just installed lifts. Right now they consist of a 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe, a 1966 Shelby GT350, a 1967 Shelby GT500, a 1969 Jaguar XKE Coupe, a 1978 Mustang King Cobra, a 2005 NSX and a 2005 Ford GT. Except for the NSX all of the cars are red so it is pretty easy to say that I have a color preference. Each of my cars was either rotisserie restored by a marque specialist or remains an extraordinarily clean survivor. My 1978 Mustang King Cobra still surprises people when I tell them it is an unrestored survivor and 42 years old.

QUESTION: How does the Jaguar we’re creating for you fit into your collection?

ANSWER: First, all of my cars are absolutely stock and unmodified which is very important to me. Second, all of my cars are sports cars -- albeit the performance of a 1978 Mustang King Cobra with a 139 horsepower 302 is not exactly fast. Third, each of the cars has to be a car that is unique and not regularly seen because I like having a special car. Finally, all of the cars are drivers in the sense that they take me on sunny day adventures around Houston.

QUESTION: Is Jaguar your favorite marque or just one of your favorite marques?

ANSWER: I have always loved the look of the XKE's but the Jaguar brand is only one of several marques that I like. I grew up restoring old Mustangs which was a business that I started when I was 14 and bought a rusty 1967 convertible from a neighbor so for most of my life it would be fair so say that I have been a "Ford guy". Of course, nothing is "off-limits" so I am presently in negotiations to acquire an Austin Healey which is a car about which I know almost nothing. The Austin-Healey ticks the box because it has several concourse wins and so it may be another one that makes the garage list.

QUESTION: What about the Jaguar excites you?

ANSWER: The XKE is said by many to be one of the most beautiful cars ever designed and I subscribe to that view. I have several 1960s cars but I can say that the Jaguar is the best driving of all of them and that driving experience is important to me. But my favorite part of any XKE is the bonnet and the way that it tilts forward to expose a beautifully polished and detailed engine. I enjoy spending time cleaning and polishing so an XKE makes a great canvas for that. And, nothing is more fun to me than pulling up to a Cars & Coffee and showing off the mechanicals of this car.  

QUESTION: In your opinion, do you believe classic cars are good investments?

ANSWER: I have a pretty strong opinion that most classic cars are good investments provided that they are truly classics. I have only lost money on one of my collector cars and that was a beautiful 1999 Ferrari 355. I always kept the car maintained to "the book", and cosmetically always presented in show quality, but the expense of things like the engine out service ate up any chance of profit. Of all the cars that I have owned it was the only one that I celebrated the day it left the driveway. For most of the collection I do all the maintenance so that keeps the expenses down and also my sanity up as turning wrenches is therapy for me -- that helps on the ultimate return on investment.

QUESTION: Will you be campaigning your Jaguar in car shows?

ANSWER: Absolutely, and I want to get some JCNA awards. Car shows are part of my soul and my colleagues at the office know not to put things on my calendar that might interfere with the shows. When one of my cars is on the lawn, or in the parking lot, I really enjoy talking to everyone about that particular car. I have tried to become an expert on each of the cars that I own so that I can speak that car's language at the shows. On show days I refer to my various cars by their serial numbers so my 1967 Shelby GT 500 is #2714, the 1966 Shelby GT 350 is #889, etc, etc. One annual tradition for me and my wife is the debate over how long she will have to sit with me in the award presentation during the Houston Autorama -- I love this annual right of passage and the debate with her.

QUESTION: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the hobby?

ANSWER: It is not about how many cars that you have, what types you have, or how much money that you invested. The point of this hobby is the social interaction and enjoyment that most of us receive by meeting up in a random parking lot and debating all sorts of car issues. When those conversations morph to other things it only does so because you have made a new acquaintance with the car hobby as the connection. If there was a religion called the "Church of the Collector" I would be a regular member and a happy parishioner. Even in this time of the COVID-19 virus, and the widespread cancellation of car shows, I have still been participating in the Petersen Museum's Youtube Cars & Coffee because I enjoy the hobby that much. I hope the car show season returns soon!