Neil's old cat 
1970 Jaguar E-type

There are many great old cars up here in our mountains. In the coming months, I hope to show you a few. I know someone with a beautiful Thunderbird. Another friend has a fleet of classic American cars. And I’m sure there are more fine vehicles hidden in garages from Idylwild to Longridge Road.

Of course, I had an ulterior motive in starting this series. I wanted to share (show off) my partially restored 1970 XKE E-type 4.2 series 2. I have a long way to go, but after new paint, top and upholstery, my E-type is looking presentable.

I bought my E-type not long after I started my own writing business. I used it as my "work" car until 1984, driving to clients, carrying boxes of printing and even giving an occasional client a terrifying ride. (The E-type would do 150 mph, and it was tempting to push it to the limit on Skyline.)

During the 70’s, many of us were hippie look-alikes, even if we held down steady jobs, say in advertising. I wore a big leather hat, a leisure suit and orange colored shirts and turtlenecks. And my ensemble was not complete without my two-tone platform shoes. It’s a wonder that I had any clients.

When the weather was bad, I drove under a tonneau cover that left only the driver’s seat unprotected. I looked like a hippie Eskimo in a kayak. If I didn’t wear my hat with the E-type top down, my long hair would get so tangled that I would have to hack off a few clumps before using a comb. But who cared? It was worth it for cool, head-turning rides.

The E-type was and is a different breed of cat. Even now, it’s still sleek and sexy. The long forward-hinged bonnet (hood), smooth lines, triple windscreen wipers and real knock-off wire wheels are pretty darned elegant. Of course, it’s not perfect. Lucas (Prince of Darkness) electrics are not particularly dependable. I remember several times driving up Highway 17 at night when my lights would suddenly disappear, which was disconcerting. The clutch required special care. I lost my clutch racing my neighbor on Highway 280, which in an E-type meant pulling the engine. And after thirty years of mountain road driving, my E-type creaks a little on rough roads, but so does the driver.

When it comes to looks and dependability, my E-type has outperformed my 14-year younger Corvette. My racing days may be over, but my E is still a classy way to drive to Summit Store.

Do you have a great old car? It doesn’t have to be restored or a classic. It just has to be loved. Send your stories to or call me at 408-353-1901.




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