The Family Cats 1969 Jaguar XK-E (part 2.)
Article and photography by Richard Butschi
(Part 1 can be viewed at www.cityrevealed.com. Click on Past Issues – November.)
John and Madeline Watertor, of northwest CR, have another “feline” in their garage besides the Sunbeam Tiger – a pretty ferocious Jaguar coupe. John’s dad, William, acquired the beauty in 1970, traveling to Drake University in Des Moines, where a student was having to part with it. His father had cut his funding and the local dealership wouldn’t service the car since it wasn’t purchased there. William negotiated a sweet deal with the student - $1,000 under the trade-in price! But as years passed and interest waned, the Jag began a 15-year rest in a shed on the Watertor farm. John bought the ‘69 from his dad’s estate in 2002, a year after William’s passing.
Jaguar E-types were produced by Jaguar Cars Ltd. in England from 1961 to ‘75. They were based on the D-type which won the 24 Hours of LeMans race in ‘55, ‘56 and ‘57. Enzo Ferrari called them “the most beautiful car ever made.” The Daily Telegraph tagged it as #1 on their list of “all-time most beautiful cars” and Sports Car International Magazine gave it the top spot on their list of “sports cars of the ‘60s. A Series #1 roadster was chosen for permanent exhibition in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art – 1 of only 6 cars ever chosen for their sculptural beauty.
There were three production versions of the E-type: Series #1 (1961-’68), #2 (‘68-’71) and #3 (‘71-’75). The most valued are the 1961-’64 Series #1s that featured a 3.8 litre in-line 6-cylinder engine, with non-synchromeshed transmission. Some of these have sold in the half-million dollar range, with one going for an amazing $7,370,000.00 (you can check this) at the recent Bonham Auction in Arizona, January of 2017! It was 1 of 12 made, and had a factory-correct, but non-numbers-matching engine.
In ‘65, the Jag engines were boosted to 4.2 litre giving it more torque but horsepower stayed about the same, at 265. The early E-types featured glass-covered recessed headlights, “monocoque” construction (having little or no framework), disc brakes, rack-n-pinion steering and independent suspension front and rear. Top speed was 150mph, with 0-60 acceleration at 6.4 seconds. U.S. governmental regulations caused the removal of one of the 3 Stromberg side-mounted carburetors in the Series #2s, reducing the power to 246 bhp. The glass was removed from the headlights, the bumpers were now wrap-around and the air-intake grill opening was enlarged as were the taillights and front turn signals. The unique toggle switches on the dash were changed to safer “rocker” switches. All this made the E-types less beautiful but more user-friendly.
Watertor maintains his vehicles immaculately, working and cleaning them frequently. He had body work and new paint done on the XK-E at Feather Ridge Auto Restoration by owner Wayne Patrick. The original enamel was a problem area, but solved nicely with a closely-match ‘87 Corvette Deep Red color. The old belts and hoses obviously needed replacing and Watertor opted for new wire wheels, tires and even a new gas tank.
John used to get the Jag to the British Car Show in Le Claire, near Davenport and did so for four or five years. It appeared at the CR Corvette Club’s show at Hawkeye Downs in June, ironically finishing second in the exotic/import class to Mike Dahl’s similarly-colored 1963 Jaguar XK-E convertible. It also made the Stoney Point YMCA show and ADM’s show at the Kernels Stadium in September. It’s a gorgeous car with unique attributes, such as its rear hatch, which one thinks would be hinged at the top as most modern vehicles, but is hinged to the left and opens like normal door. It’s quite confusing to the bag boys at the local Hy-Vee.