Mk VII, Mk VIII, Mk IX, Mk X, 420G

BIG JAG-Tales / Jaguar 420G – SUK 500 F


JAGUAR 420G  -  SUK 500 F
A love affair

My mum always called "him" Suki, which to me sounded rather feminine, but then, what is a Jaguar? A cat? A graceful feline? A tiger? A superb runner? Cuddly? One who is never ill? A magnificent beast! 

Jaguar 420G
The Jaguar 420G went where only Land Rovers could go ... In the Pennine hills near Sheffield
L. Harris mit SUKI
Circa 1975 A few scrapes later...

All of these definitions must surely sum up the Jaguar 420G, born in the Jaguar era of "Grace, Space and Pace".

A new-found friend at our British Day in Hamburg asked of me, "But why do people let such beautiful cars deteriorate into such a state? Actually the photos have mislead. The beastie is not so bad - just a little dust covered and in need of a good polish.

The British Day brings out shining examples of "Debutantes" - those creatures who must not get their finger nails blemished - or their underparts mud-spattered in the case of shiny traditional cars. But my Jaguar; my heavenly, beautiful, 420G is just for the moment in gentle retirement, awaiting the kiss of Prince Charming to awaken it into life again.

..... But how did he come to sit in his present abode, an old barn building in the rural depths of North Derbyshire, in England, where he has quietly rested since 1982?

Beastie was born in 1968 and was just five years old in 1973 when he joined me and my family in Sheffield. He was somehow confused with his smaller brother, the 420 during those uncertain days of whether to buy him or not. That first demo ride was out of this world. There had been nothing like it in my life. The sheer whoosh of power, the leather, the walnut, the aura had me hooked. But its size! The 420 story must wait for another day though.

Idylle mit Jaguar 420G
Suki's home barn in North Derbyshire

Beastie was bought, and immediately put to work as my hotel, my office, my mobile tool box - in a word my home - far more comfortable than the ubiquitous VW Caravette. My life had for many years been that of a semi-vagrant telecommunications engineer, wandering from town to town, staying in little hotels, and in summer, often enjoying the silent tranquility of the open countryside on the back seat of various species of cars. But now it was winter a-coming, and I was in the high Pennines of England, notorious for sudden snow storms and bitterly cold nights.

Suki did me proud during those early days of the mid 1970's.  The Yorkshire inns and the Yorkshire lassies were a comforting combination. Beastie and I roamed the Yorkshire hills, visiting hidden inns, and I would stay out in him all night. It was wonderful. The soft green light from the dashboard, the walnut, the leather, a cosy blanket. The Jaguar would retain its heat all night, presumably because of its amazingly thick roof insulation. One could go out for the evening, and return after several hours, and it was like entering a warm living room again.

And so this life of wandering with Suki and our innumerable adventures went on for many years. Leaving my loved ones on a Sunday evening to set off for distant parts was no longer such a sad event. It was sheer exhilaration breezing along motorways around a hundred miles an hour, for hours on end; forget not - in those days there were few other cars with such luxury and sustainable stamina, winter or summer alike.

Autumn gales did not affect his sure-footedness on motorways. In fact the faster one went, the more stable Beastie was. Aerodynamics, I am told. In winter, I often stayed at my caravan in the Derbyshire hills. The Jaguar went where only Landrovers could go. Its limited-slip differential rear axle is an amazing piece of engineering, enabling Beastie to go up snow-covered Derbyshire hills with ease and sure-footedness. It was a fearless animal, and if actually snowed-in, I too had no fears. I knew I was safe inside its cocoon of warmth with my blankets. And of course it had charm. Its attributes were of enormous benefits to a young man in his thirties set on impressing members of the fairer sex.

In 1982, During one of those frequent economic downturns in the UK, I was offered a job in far-off India for four months. Beastie was tucked away in his barn garage, and as it would be winter when I returned, I gave him a thorough soaking, top and undersides, with waxoyle.

But India affected me. On my return I had the culture shock of seeing so much waste in the throwaway society of England, where the Indians would recycle everything. I could not stand the sheer waste of energy consumed by Beastie, so I bought a small car, and shortly afterwards acquired the first of several MGB's, the theory being, that I would drive the B in summer, and the 420G in winter. But like many theories, it did not work out that way, and the B became a new thrilling love in my life.... and then I came to Hamburg ..... for "just" one year ..... but then there became a lovely reason to remain in this delightful city......

Now Beastie is like one of ones elderly family members. They are comfortable to be with and full of stories and memories to be related over and over again. Our knowing smiles greet each other when I lift off his covers and my memories come flooding back - how can I possibly "put him to sleep"!? There is a warmeth of years of friendship when I sit in him, with him. How can one simply send such a dear old friend away to sit in some breaker's yard, lonely, on his own, crying in sadness with no one caring about him?

But I have been here in Hamburg for 17 years. It was not my intention to stay so long, but circumstances have made it so. Each visit back to England had less and less time for dear Beastie, and so he sat their, patiently, waiting to be "ignited" once again.

Perhaps he will never shine again like he did when he was washed down with the pure water from raging Welsh mountain streams, or speed along so swiftly as in the 1970's, but if He can just quaintly go, and carry me, his now aging parent, to places dear, then I will be happy once again. To feel the click of the ignition switch and hear its purr, and to enjoy its gentile D2 acceleration. We English do not need perfection.

I thank Robert for letting me tell another story for his wonderful website, and his advice and very kind offer to help bring Beastie to Germany, and onwards, for its restoration.

Lawrence Harris

September 2004

vergessener 420G Seitenansicht vom Jaguar 420G
Innenansicht Jaguar 420G Rote Sitze vom 420G
Jaguar-Motor vom 420G  


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