A Q&A Session with one of our recent clients, Richard Bartlett.
That's a loaded question! I have actually never been a car collector, but I've always appreciated well-designed and well-crafted things. My grandfather, Ernest Bartlett born 1889, was a master builder in Sydney Australia. After graduating from a seven-year apprenticeship, and soon becoming successful in his own business, Ernest was part of the first wave of citizens of Sydney to trade in his horse and buggy for an automobile, a Ford model T Utility in the early 1920’s. So he was an early adopter of this new, internal combustion engine technology, and in the late 1920’s he retained his Model T, and traded up to a Model A Ford.
When he moved from Sydney, Australia to establish a farm farther west beyond the Blue Mountains, he took with him both the Model T and the Model A utility (pick-up) vehicles. Ernest taught me to take pride in crafting everything from tools, to houses and barns as well as repairing farm equipment. But from my early pre-teen years I was always intrigued by those old, no longer running, old Fords, and spent countless hours playing in and exploring them. I learned to drive at about age twelve, as soon as my legs were long enough to press in the clutch of our 1928 Dodge pickup. How I loved that old truck, even when frustrated with the perpetually untrustworthy vacuum tank, or fixing a tire with its dangerous split-rim design.
Years later when I first set eyes on a 5-year-old Jaguar 3.8 S-Type, in 1972, I immediately fell in love. From its beautiful swoopy lines to its luxurious burled walnut and leather interior, this fine, English automobile was obviously a machine of great craftmanship. I drove this car all over Sydney, and in the country on long trips, for many years. When my late wife was travelling with me, she would sometimes remark that she felt like a princess being chauffeured to a ball. Before I left Australia it was a sad parting to see the last of the most beautiful car I could ever imagine. Over the last forty years I have always had a connection to it, regretting that I couldn’t have brought it to Utah with me.
I believe this “Re-incarnated-with-the-steering-wheel-on-the-left-side” S-Type is a jealous girl, and at my age I can probably only afford to give all of my attention and affections to one classic car. I can’t really claim that my two playthings in Australia, the Ford Models T and A, were mine, but my English Austin A30 13.5 HP and my Morris Mini would certainly be classics now, even if those are now not mine either!
This beauty gets all the attention. She does not have to compete because she's the only car in the collection. It's my daily driver. I don’t need to leave any other jealous Classic cars in my driveway when I trot out the Jag, (though that wouldn’t be all bad!).
There is no doubt that Jaguar is my favorite marque, and I've always loved the E-Type. A good friend is restoring one to perfection right now and I visit him and his blog often to see how it's going. His E-Type and my S-Type share lots of DNA. I’m excited by the classic lines; the purr of the straight six that morphs into a roar when downshifting with the electronic gear shift switch. I love looking at this car, I love working on it and I especially love driving it. The car has always felt luxurious and quiet to me, and has a well planted and sure-footed feel. For its age - turning 55 soon - it's amazing how this car drives and handles.
I understand that, especially during inflationary times, classic automobiles may be a sound investment as folks turn to tangible goods like coins, art and classic cars. But for me, it's more about the simple pleasures of life. As we get older we find ourselves feeling nostalgic about old friends. And some of those old friends are cars or motorcycles that we once owned and enjoyed. When I saw this beautiful, previously loved, Jaguar 3.8s at Classic Showcase, it felt like I was reuniting with a long lost best friend. I'm so glad to have this car back in my life. It’s impossible for me to describe the unique feeling that comes over me many times when I glance at my new classic, a sort of pleasant de je vu feeling that leaves a forty-year gap somewhere in between. I don't believe I will be selling this car in my lifetime, so it would seem that I'm not rising to the level of a sophisticated investor.
As beautiful as it is, my S-Type Jaguar is not a show car, really. It's never been fully restored and as such is not a serious candidate for the concourse. But it's amazing how often I get the thumbs up or a short toot from other drivers. Almost every time I park the car, or even just fill up her tanks with petrol, the car draws a small crowd. I recently had a young family standing around the car while the dad explained the significance of the car to his curious wife and children. At a gas station in Provo Utah, a young Englishman was almost in tears as he expressed his love of the Jaguar marque and his amazement at seeing this old girl so far from home. This car seems to take the show wherever she goes, no matter that she's not a formal entry into an event. Almost every time the Jaguar is parked in my driveway there will be at least one vehicle pass by, then stop and reverse to get a better look!
The one regret that I’ve come to realize after acquiring my “re-incarnated” left hand drive S-Type is that I have not one photo of its sister that I owned so long ago in Australia. That is all the more a pity because of the fact that it was the very same model and even the same colour. Of course, all the controls inside are on the opposite side, - except for the hood release which the English left on the right side, no doubt for nostalgic reasons! One thing that I don’t regret, is passing my love of fine machines down to my son and grandson, although my son’s passions lean more towards classic motorcycles. I guess nobody’s perfect. Thank you so very much, Classic Showcase.