What's Your Eleanor? – Deartháir Edition

Where it all began — now an ornament on my parents' Christmas tree

When I was just a wee young lad, my father gave me a toy car that had been his favourite when he was younger. I’m not entirely certain of the story behind the toy, but I can’t help but notice that the toy was issued in 1961, when my father would have been 16. Knowing his family, and knowing how cheeky they can be, I have to suspect that might factor into the story. My father was one of the youngest of nine children, and he told me how his oldest brother had bought his own Model T Ford when my father was a young boy; I’d guess dad probably mentioned that he’d like a car of his own when he was old enough to drive, and most likely received this Jaguar Mk2 as a joke gift.

This would be what my Dinky Toy looked like when brand new.

The die cast model toy is a 1961-issue Dinky Toy, Model 195. Over the years, I wore much of the paint off; that little toy car and I were practically inseparable. When my parents took me to church, they knew I would be perfectly well-behaved if I had my “Jag-car”, and its soft rubber tires meant that I could play on the hard wooden pews to my heart’s content without disturbing anyone around us. When I went to bed, the “Jag-car” sat on the headboard, waiting for me when I woke up. On car trips, the Jag-car could be relied upon to keep me entertained for the hours of boring highway.
And finally, I saw it in real life.

In short, I probably spent most of the hours of my first few years of conscious life staring intently at the curves of my ’60 Mark II 3.4 Saloon. I knew the lines intimately and could draw it with reasonable accuracy from memory. So when I saw the hint of a fender behind some bushes, from the corner of my eye, while out for a drive one afternoon, my mind knew exactly what it was without a conscious thought. I had pulled into that parking lot without slowing down, and before the car behind me had a chance to notice I was moving.
The owner happened to be there for me to talk to, and he was most accommodating, albeit not overly knowledgeable on the subject of his car. There was something that was almost mystical about having the opportunity to climb in and around the car I’d played with through my entire childhood. It felt almost as if I had suddenly shrunken to a fraction of my own size. I crawled in and around his beautiful classic, and the owner seemed absolutely thrilled to be receiving all this attention, particularly when I told him the story of my childhood toy.
The car itself proved quite remarkable. The owner claimed it was completely unrestored and original, and it had, to date, never needed any significant repairs; regular oil changes and tune-ups, certainly, but no major repairs. That’s right. This Jaguar still has all of its original Lucas Magic Smoke.
I had never completely realized how much the Jaguar MkII was a part of my childhood, and a part of my make-up as a car guy. Seeing it in the flesh was an almost magical experience for me.
Some day, my friends. Some day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. Black Steelies Avatar

    Hahaha i had a British-made matchbox car of a Land Rover Series 1 4-door safari wagon that I recall playing with as a kid. Cool story!

  2. engineerd Avatar

    I have old Jags on my radar for project cars. Some day, is right, my friend. If I wind up with a Mark II, you can bet your bottom [Canadian] dollar you'll be on the invite list for joy rides.

  3. Goingincirclez Avatar

    That's incredible my friend! But now I'm wondering if they were all the same color. You sure you didn't just invent a reverse-shrink-ray in a dream?
    Sounds like the owner fit the car perfectly: understated, with a nod toward elegance and keeping things simple enough to preserve that OEM Lucas giddiness.
    How awesome to find the real match to a cherished toy. I can honestly say that hasn't happened to me, and lord knows I have far too many of them.
    Of course, the family joke might continue if you finally get one, and all the smoke finally decides to let loose. But if cheekiness is a trait within the House of Dearthair, somehow I don't think you would mind.

  4. Møbius Avatar

    Playing with toys in church, eh? Small wonder our dear, dear Dearthair is such an admirer of all things great and automobile, and a rebellious, uncouth member of [Redacted].
    That is a wonderful story, I can't wait for it to be included in the first Hooniverse short story collection. Moreover, it's very wonderful to hear of a tale of somebody meeting their childhood hero that didn't go bad. Good thing your hero wasn't a Lambo Countach.

  5. CptSevere Avatar

    My granddad had a MkII when I was a little baby, and Grammy had a 2 stroke Saab. The Jag was white, with a red leather interior. I still remember what it looked like. I think I had a Matchbox MkII, and I still have a really cool diecast wind-up XK120 in storage from when I was a kid. Yeah, these old Jags are classy. Great story.

  6. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

    I had a favorite Matchbox car as a kid that's now in similar condition. An '80s Mercury Sable station wagon. Which explains a lot.

  7. Stephen Avatar

    I'm with you; that Jaguar is all kinds of gorgeous. Someday…

  8. dragon951 Avatar

    Remember that auction for the Elan frame? They have something else which might interest you:
    It's a 340</>, not a 3.4, but it's the right color inside and out. Just come on down and get it.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Be still my beating heart!

  9. tonyola Avatar

    The Mark 2 was OK looking, but I've always thought that the later S-type with the longer tail was a more-balanced and better-looking car. It was also a better performer with the 3.8 engine and IRS from the Mark X.
    <img src="http://www.americancarsuk.com/Jaguar_S_Type/Jaguar_S_Type_1966_19.JPG&quot; width=500>

  10. […] the surface: everyone has at least one fantastically nerdy Christmas decoration. I’ve got my Jag-car, Cardboard has Darth Vader in a Santa hat, Techie has… pretty much his whole […]

  11. don eilenberger Avatar
    don eilenberger

    That's an almost many times for me.. first time I was around 18, and a sleezy used car lot had one. They wanted around $750 or so (almost within my budget.) Took it out for a drive – it was spewing oil from many orfices. Stopped at a repair shop to get a guess on what it would cost to put diapers on it, and the guy simply must have taken pity on me – he convinced me not to buy it.
    Fast foward about 10 years – my second Jag phase (which saw me owning a MK-IV and an XKE..) but I really lusted after the "S" model Mk-II, and as Tonyola said – it was an even better looking car (with the built in driving lights up front, the tidied up rear end) and mechanically more interesting. I came very close on one – which looked PERFECT and was owned by an arrogant SOB who didn't actually seem to want to sell it. It was a pale gold-silver color. Gawguessssss.. Since he didn't want to dicker (I seem to recall $2,200 being the price..) and I didn't have $2,200 (more like $1,800 and that was every cent of car money I had) – it didn't happen.
    I still find a nice one turns my head and makes me think.. could have been, should have been, mebbe it will be..

%d bloggers like this: