by Cara Weston
I don’t know why—maybe it was my Welsh mother—but I was attracted to British cars at a very early age. As soon as I could get my license I scraped together money from working at a car wash and bought an MGA. I had to make new wooden floor boards and learn to drive a stick, but I was young and up for the challenge. Before long my eyes drifted to a TR3 and then my next step was a TR4 IRS—very fun, but check out that TR250… much more power and excitement! Ahh, to be young, foolish, with no direction in life except for a love of British cars, and landing endless jobs to keep them running.
Every week I would keep an eye on the local car ads, and one day low and behold I spotted a 1968 E-Type… and it was in my price range! So I sold my TR250 and I bought this Jaguar. The only slight problem was that it was a mess. The head was off the engine, and it had dents and was primed in many different colors. The guy who sold it to me was a California Highway Patrol officer and he told me once the head was back on it would run like a champ. Again, to be young, foolish, and now trusting!
The seller brought the car to me on a trailer and off loaded it in my dirt driveway along with a box of parts and a head. This was going to be a project for me and my new boyfriend to work on. How romantic!
Stop me if you’ve heard this story: Shortly after, we got married, I had two daughters, and the Jag got stored in a makeshift garage for over ten years.
One day I told my husband I wanted to get the Jag running. I had it towed into a shop in Monterey and they put the head back on the engine and got it running. As you can imagine it was still a mess. I later took it to a body shop and got it painted. I tinkered on the car for many years but never had the money or time to do it correctly.
Fast forward 20 years and now divorced and kids off to college and starting their own lives. The time had finally come to address the old girl sitting in my garage. A dear friend of mine, Mike, called me one day and said he would work on the car. In his younger years he worked for British Motors of Monterey. Mike flew out and we drove the Jag from Monterey to his home in Arizona. 15 hours and six quarts of oil later, we made it in one piece.
Mike had the car for a year and fixed many of the problems. When it came to the engine he enlisted Greg Nel of British Auto Repair in Arizona to rebuild it. I highly recommend Greg. He loves Jags and did a fabulous rebuild along with other things the old girl needed.
When the engine was completed Greg wanted to see the Monterey Car Week, so he said he would drive my Jag out to me. He told me it was the most epic drive through the desert at night in the warm air, with the top down, and a meteor shower flashing across the sky. I wish I could have been there!
I have now owned the old girl (her name is Millie—after my grandmother) for over 40 years. Each time I get a little extra cash I do something to improve Millie. Last year it was new wire wheels. She will never be a concours car but she is a big part of my life. I went from a teenage girl who had a dream of owning an E-Type to making the dream come true and it only took four decades. Anything is possible if there is a willing spirit, right?
My daughters joke that I will be buried in the car… That would be such a waste, I told them! I do hope someday my grandkids, who are five-years old now, will take their future dates to the prom in Millie. That would bring a smile to my face. MM