Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic

Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic

It cannot be said that Jaguar 420Gs are as rare as hens teeth, but they were never numerous and now good examples are even harder to find. But here we have a wonderful example, the personal choice of the ex-Lord Mayor of Adelaide.


RESPLENDENT 420G LIVING FAR FROM HOME

420G DOWN UNDER

HOW THE LORD MAYOR OF ADELAIDE ACQUIRED A FLAGSHIP JAGUAR


WORDS: RICHARD HOLDSWORTH

PHOTOGRAPHY: RICHARD HOLDSWORTH & DUSTIN WILSON


A 420G DOWN UNDER

Richard Holdsworth meets an exceptional 420G, and its owner

“...once out in the country where even shortish journeys can mean 200 to 300 miles, the car is the perfect choice to arrive relaxed and refreshed.”

Martin Haese is that ex-mayor, and now the CEO of Business South Australia. We enjoyed his wonderful car on the banks of the River Torrens with the Adelaide city skyline as a backdrop. It was an afternoon to remember for me, a young man who landed in Adelaide some 50 years before with a consignment of stud cattle for enthusiastic Aussie stud owners. Now I’m with my Aussie wife, Heather, and not only enjoying the Jaguar but the company of a man who is passionate about this city where he was Lord Mayor from 2014 to 2018 and Englishness in general, from his first car, a Morris Minor, to the Beatles!


Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic


Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic

If you are going to be an advocate of any Australian city in these days of COVID pandemic and climate change, then it is easy to make a case for Adelaide. This is not the time nor the place to get political, but I cannot help but provide readers with some facts and figures that are impressive anywhere in the world – and many influenced by the leadership of Martin Haese. In 2009, the South Australian State Labor Government of the time established Renewables SA, an initiative charged with harnessing the ‘free’ resources of wind and sun. The ambitious target was to increase the State’s renewable energy supply to 33 per cent by 2020.


Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic

This target was achieved in 2013-2014 and in 2014 a new even more ambitious target of 50 per cent by 2025 was set and this was achieved in 2017 – eight years ahead of target! Martin has entrepreneurial skills, and he is behind some of these remarkable results. He holds an MBA with honours and has delivered lectures to MBA students in topics as diverse as strategy, marketing and supply chains. He also saw a gap in the market and established a chain of successful retail stores across Australia aimed at younger people. When elected as Lord Mayor, he was responsible for an office which realigned the organisation with community expectations and delivered on projects, policies and partnerships in a way that had rarely been seen before. During his time in the chair, he gave keynote speeches at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) held in Paris in 2015 and the World Cities Summit in Singapore in 2018. In 2021, he delivered a speech at COP26 in Glasgow.


Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic


ENTER THE 420G

It was the flagship Jaguar of the 1960s that accompanied Martin as his mode of transport during the time he was making his forward-thinking contribution to a better Adelaide, South Australia, and the world in general. The Jaguar 420G is a magisterial car and never better shown than late on this glorious December day on the banks of the city’s River Torrens. Remember, this is the Southern Hemisphere and coming up to mid-summer where the sun is shining brightly even at 6.30pm in the evening as shown by the accompanying photographs. Martin has owned four Jaguars before the 420G and although he wouldn’t claim to be something of an expert, I am indebted to him for his observations on the MkX and its successor, the 420G. “You will know that the MkX was launched in 1961, Richard, but was thought too large for English roads, yet too small for American.” Martin Haese said with a wry grin. “So, you could say that Australia offers the perfect home for the car and Adelaide in particular. It enjoys our wide and (usually) problem free city roads and once out in the country where even shortish journeys can mean 200 to 300 miles, the car is the perfect choice to arrive relaxed and refreshed.


Martin Haese 1967 Jaguar 420G Automatic

It is a genuine magisterial car…” But for all this, it never chalked up astronomic sales. My own observation is that the MkX could have been overshadowed by the glamour of the E-type, launched in the same year. This was a pity as the flagship saloon had an exceptional technical specification and a number of innovations that lifted Jaguar to another level for saloon cars. Then there was the styling that gave the MkX such ‘presence’. “It had been hoped that it all added up to a package that attracted heads of state, diplomats and film stars. It could also be pointed out that the MkX was half the price of a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud at that time! One of the breaks from flagship tradition was the introduction of unitary construction rather than chassis and separate body of the outgoing MkIX.

A method first utilised by Jaguar on the 1955 ‘Mk1’ compact saloon. Another was the Bob Knight designed independent rear suspension, a first for the company and, in fact the only such technically advanced suspension for a car of this size in the UK motor manufacturing industry of that time.

The engine to power the Jaguar was the XK in-line 3,781 cc six-cylinder engine designed under William Heynes. This was basically the same engine used to power the new E-type. It developed either 250 hp or 265 hp (SAE) depending on compression ratio. Triple SU carburettors were fed through an AC Delco air filter fitted ahead of the right-hand front wheel. Three years later at the 1964 London Earls Court Motor Show, the enlarged 4,235 cc engine was introduced. From the outset, either a four-speed manual transmission with overdrive was offered or a Borg Warner automatic (at first DG then later Model8). A limited slip differential was standard thus helping deliver the power to the rear wheels and keeping wheel-spin to a minimum. On the manual gearbox, synchromesh was provided on the top three ratios, extending to all four upon the introduction of the 4.2 variant.

The new Jaguar MkX was well received by the motoring Press on both sides of the Atlantic and, thus, sales not coming up to expectations was a disappointment for Jaguar. Yet, Martin Haese reminds me that “this magnificent engineering flagship saloon just kept on keeping on …” He was right, of course. Subtle styling changes were made to the MkX in 1966 where it was re-launched as the 420G. When in 1968 Jaguar decided to replace its entire saloon car range with one model, the striking new XJ6, the Mark X / 420G was used as the template.

Production of the 420G continued until 1970 and Jaguar didn't build another car as large as the MkX / 420G until the LWB version of the 2003 — 2009 Jaguar XJ (X350) came into production between 2003 until 2009.


JAGUAR INFLUENCE

But Martin’s words are the ones that still ring in my ears! “Don’t forget Richard, that this was not the end of the line for the wonderful MkX / 420G as Daimler’s DS420 limousine was based on Jaguar’s MkX / 420G floor pan and with production of the Daimler continuing until 1992, the MkX / 420G’s influence extended for a staggering 30 years!” I am keen to know what inspired Martin to seek out and buy this splendid 420G now sitting in front of us in the late Adelaide afternoon sunshine. His first car was a Humber Super Snipe and even though it didn’t last long in his ownership (he tells me it was a ‘quirky car’) it gave him a taste for British cars, their engineering background and innovation. While the customary choice for young gadabout- town of the day were twoseater sports cars (I had a Porsche 356 Speedster that I whirled around the streets of Adelaide!), Martin settled for a Morris Minor. “It was nippy, economical and easy to maintain…” Martin kept the ‘sensible’ Morris for four years, perhaps giving some indication of his business sense that has stood him in such good stead in later years. His chain of retail shops spread over South Australia and Victoria and had a combined turnover in excess of AUD$25 million and employing 220 people.

It was later that prestigious cars graced his driveway. He has owned a Triumph Stag, Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, Jaguar Sovereign, Jaguar XJS, Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a Jensen Interceptor. The Jensen Interceptor and Vanden Plas Princess are all still in the Haese household along with, of course, the Jaguar 420G. As for the Jensen, when we first met Martin, he had just completed in the annual Bay to Birdwood event for vintage, veteran and classic motorcars and motorbikes. This event attracts an amazing variety of two, three and four wheel modes of transport. Previous concours winners have been so diverse as to include a Pontiac Bonneville, Aston Martin DB4, 1924 Nash Hearse, 1909 Renault and a 1908 Matchless motorcycle! The event starts close to the golden sands in the Adelaide suburb of West Beach and finishes at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in the picturesque Adelaide Hills. It is said to be the largest event of its type in the world today, held in September each year, where it attracts nearly 2,000 entrants with tens of thousands of spectators.

Martin tells us that he has long had a fascination for British cars. “I not only admire British engineering but the whole automotive design and style that emanates from the country and, of course, today many of the Formula One teams are based in Britain. These are unique skills that the British possess.”

But he is drawn to more than just the motor industry. “The whole era, the culture, fashion, design and music – yes the music, the Beatles in particular. My regret is that I was born too late to be one of the 300,000 fans greeting the Fab Four when they came to Adelaide in 1964.” I make Martin smile when I tell him that it was my fellow journalist and flatmate of the time, Ron Tremaine, who put together a package to put South Australia on the Beatles’ itinerary that included Adelaide, the most English of Australian cities.


JAGUARS HOLD SWAY

As previously mentioned, Martin has owned four Jaguars: A pristine 1985 XJ6 Series 3 Sovereign bought in 1994 that was previously used by a doctor who clearly lavished the same attention on his cars as on his patients. Martin found the quiet ambience and good handling of the XJ6 much to his liking … “The XJ6 is, as you know, a low-slung car, it has extraordinarily good suspension and is a very quiet ride … I needed that after a long day working in the business that I owned prior to becoming the Lord Mayor.”

Martin has also owned a1985 XJS-C cabriolet, “A true grand tourer, I believe like the one owned by Princess Diana.” Then came a second XJS, “a 1993 update model, better to drive, much more precise handling, I enjoyed this car very much…”

However, the car that holds most affection in the eyes of the Adelaide ex-Lord Mayor is the 420G. His example was bought new in 1967 by a farmer on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. Martin had known of this car for some time and when in 2003 it ended up in a car showroom back on the mainland in Adelaide, Martin made an impromptu offer – but missed out!

South Australia has a dry climate and life is kind to classic cars and the Jaguar was in pristine condition – accordingly, he kept tabs on the 420G. As luck would have it, the man who gazumped him in the purchase was an experienced car mechanic who Martin knew well – one Geoff Mockford. Geoff co-founded Sovereign Autos, Jaguar and Land Rover specialists, and subsequently the Classic & Sports Cars Boutique in Norwood in Adelaide. Geoff has serviced all Martin’s previous Jaguars and needless to say, kept the car in impeccable condition. When Geoff eventually parted with it, Martin again kept track. The third owner was one of Adelaide’s well-known late-night radio presenters, Jeremy Cordeaux, who not only entertained listeners late into the night but was also something of a car collector himself. Martin still had the 420G in his sights and when Jeremy Cordeaux decided to sell, he stepped in, not missing out this time. The year was 2016 and the car went straight to Geoff Mockford at Sovereign to a thorough inspection. The 420G had covered a mere 43,000 miles and the only thing required was a service and the rear disc brakes attended to.

Heather and I have met Martin with his Jaguar before, but this is something out of the ordinary. For a start, the COVID-19 Pandemic is still rife, and the Government of South Australia has been cautious about welcoming residents of other Australian states where the virus is much more prevalent. We had made an application to cross into South Australia, queued at the crack of dawn in Melbourne for yet another test, then drove the 500 miles to the State border and presenting ourselves and our paperwork. A smiling South Australian police constable gave us the green light to enter. But this is not the end of it as Martin is a very busy man, meeting many people and chairing meetings and is ducking and weaving the virus himself. But, helpful as ever, he makes himself available at the end of a busy week and with the help of Adelaide City Council, I had in my hand a permit to carry out my photo-shoot for Classic Jaguar magazine on the banks of the beautiful River Torrens with Martin’s beloved city in the background.

Adelaide, of course, was the first Australian city to hold a modern-day Formula One race, over the years 1985 to 1995. Today, Martin is the chair of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival Advisory Board and is a driving force behind many events that Adelaide holds. Each State in Australia sets its own rules when it comes to getting your cherished possession out of the garage and onto the road – they are simple, relatively inexpensive and straightforward. No doubt, this is one of the reasons that events such as the Bay to Birdwood attract so many entries but also contributes to the success of two other events – the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and Adelaide Rally. The Rally is a four-day event in the Adelaide Hills and attracts more than 400 entries while the Adelaide Motorsport Festival sees fierce on-track competition within the Adelaide Parklands capped with some of the best F1 and world sportscars of recent years driving through the city to the Gouger Street Party on Friday evening. The next Adelaide Motorsport Festival is scheduled for early 2023 pending release of the 2023 F1 calendar. The Adelaide Rally will run this November from 24-27.

Australia has done much to protect its borders during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and by the time you read this, the situation should be close to normal – and Martin Haese in particular – will be playing a role that sees Adelaide as the city regarded as the mecca for motoring enthusiasts ‘Down Under’.


FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Manufactured: Coventry, England, 1967
  • Designers: Sir William Lyons and William Heynes
  • Engine: 4.2 Litre XK 6 cylinder
  • Power Output: 265 HP (SAE)
  • Transmission: Borg Warner Model 8 automatic
  • Top Speed: 121.5 mph
  • Acceleration 0-60mph: 9.9 sec
  • Mark 10 Production 1961 — 1965
  • 420G Production 1966 — 1970
  • Total Mark Ten (MkX) 18,519
  • Total 420G 5,763
  • Total Delivered 24,282

The splendid Jaguar 420G poses with the River Torrens and the city of Adelaide in the background.

Adelaide Oval – home of Aussie Rules Football and Test Match cricket – forms the backdrop to the ex-Lord Mayor’s magisterial Jaguar 420G.Martin Haese, ex-Lord Mayor of the city of Adelaide, poses with the 420G and the River Torrens and the city in the background.

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