Hard to believe that we bumped into an unrestored 1959 Jaguar MK IX being used for — hold breath — transportation! We met the owner coming out of a drug store and he told us that he’s owned it for the past 30 years, that the car has 70,000 original miles and that its combination of Lucas electrical components and Smiths instruments does pose certain, ahem, challenges from time to time.
While keeping it going may be problematic after dark, it does seem a nice place to spend time thanks to the sumptuous pleated seats, finished in red Connolly leather, the bird’s eye maple wood dash, interior trim and, of course those rear passenger picnic tables. In short, a comfy spot in which to pass the time while waiting for the Auto Club.
Seriously, this is a grand
automobile motorcar that has tremendous presence. The motor is the same twin overhead cam 3.8 liter inline six that powered the XK150 sports car of this era but, of course, was called upon to propel a much weightier car. Still, even with two tons of stately British steel, glass, leather, wood and rubber, to move around, the MK IX could achieve 115 mph and arrive at 60 mph in a matter of mere seconds, specifically 11, according to contemporary road tests.
Alfred Hitchcock, being of British birth, cast a Jaguar like this, an earlier MK VIII, as Kim Novak’s ride in Vertigo. Here’s a clip where she lets co-star Jimmy Stewart do the driving.
Speaking of showbiz, we have it on very good authority that Mel Brooks, whose film High Anxiety was a Hitchcock parody, owned a MK IX in the 1960s and he seems to have been quite savvy about British cars, in general. In Get Smart, the TV series he created, Don Adam’s character, Maxwell Smart/Agent 86, drove a Sunbeam Tiger and in Silent Movie, Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman and Brooks all stuffed themselves into a Morgan roadster.
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