In the summer of 1966 I worked a summer job on a farm silo construction crew; which took me through small farm towns in New York & Pennsylvania. It was hard work, but paid well. I joined the crew in a local bar, Saturday night. A man pulled up in a modified VW, we began talking cars. I asked if he knew of any local old Jaguars or MG's. He made me buy him a drink, then 2 or 3; then we left in his unmuffled ride. I was getting uneasy; when he finally pulled into a back yard, Under a heavy tarp, was a 1954 XK120MC drophead coupe .It was bronze color; same as the FHC that set early speed records. He said it was in good mechanical condition, he had rebuilt the engine, given it to his wife, they were now divorced. He wanted anyone but her to own it. He gave me her Father's name, suggested I offer $350 for it. I called the next day, and soon bought my first Jaguar, sitting in Northern Pennsylvania, 200 miles from my home in Western NY
The Silo foreman was from West Virginia, built great silos, but had a drinking problem. He built silos faster than anyone; paid everyone; then he went on a 10 day binge.I collected my $350 week's pay bought the Jaguar, and back home In Westfield NY, asked a fiend to drive me to Pa.. I took a box of tools, starting fluid, a battery, a gas can, and in a few hours had the Jaguar running. The friend drove me into New York State to register the Jaguar, took me back to the Jaguar, then left me alone. I worked a few more hours, then began the long drive home. Those were different times, and guardian angels worked overtime for me. I made it back to Chautauqua County with no problems. I used his binge time to make it reliable; but had no money for a new top. In September I fitted the Jaguar with a ski rack on the boot, crammed it full, and left for my Senior year at Colgate University. I ordered a new top from JC Whitney; Twice they sent me OTC or Roadster tops; about Thanksgiving, the correct top arrived. Each morning ,I'd had to wipe the frost from the seats before driving to class.
I'd undercoated the car with Silo lining epoxy, then bought an electric dipstick heater, and wrapped the carbs with heating tape. I still had to use ether when it was below zero, and had to park the car near an electric outlet, if I stayed overnight, at some Women's college . 6:00x16 snow tires kept me mobile; but the factory heater was useless. I told my date to dress warm, for a ski trip; her feet were frostbitten, and she never saw me again. I simply dressed the same in the car as outside, and had no problem.
At Christmas, I made the long trip home from Hamilton to Westfield NY, as a blizzard set in .I'd wrapped the Mallory dual point distributor, and Mallory Mag Spark coil in plastic ;so that kept firing. I got on the NYS Thruway at Syracuse, and headed West. After several hours driving, I tried to turn into a rest area; but could hardly turn the wheel. I'd expected the wire wheels to be ice filled; but found the slush thrown up into the huge front fenders, had frozen into a hundred pound block, with a groove for the tire. I'd not turned the wheel for hours, and could not now.I unwrapped the distributor and reset one set of points, as I always had to do every hundred miles ,and headed west again; glad there were no turns on the Thruway. When I made a wide turn into my family driveway; I think I'd never been so glad to be home.
Thank you, James Dean