Gary Bartlett’s original-paint 1966 Jaguar E-type was green

Gary Bartlett’s original-paint 1966 Jaguar E-type was green

It’s only original once. Long ago, Gary Bartlett’s original-paint E-type was green. Interview and portrait Paul Hardiman.

This Jaguar E-Type Fixed Head Coupé was purchased new, in opalescent dark green with black trim, on 24 March 1966 by Don T Hughes of Grosse Point, Michigan.

My guys knew I was looking for a 4.2 covered-light fixed-head E-type – but it had to be completely original. I was working at the GM design studio in Warren, Michigan, and one of my guys called me from Muncie, Indiana. I asked ‘What are you doing calling me about a car while I’m up here?’ and he said: ‘There is one advertised in Autoweek andit’s only about a block from you.’ I went to see it and it still had the original RS5s (whitewalls, of course) on its Dunlop wire wheels, the original opalescent dark green paint and original Connolly black trim. I didn’t even bargain with the original owner. Went back with a truck to collect it and he wouldn’t sign the papers until we’d all drunk a bottle of Champagne.

Back in Muncie we went through it – I know Jaguars, been around them all my life – and after that the first thing we did with it was take it on the Jaguar Drivers’ Club Switzerland 20th anniversary rally in June 1996. I thought ‘What a way to break it in’ so we drove to O’Hare airport in Chicago, put it on an Air France 747-200 Combi and flew with it to France.

Since then it’s mostly been looked after by CKL Developments in Battle, East Sussex, which is why it has a Hastings registration. It’s participated in the 1999 Tour Auto and we’ve done numerous other European rallies and tours, driving it as it was meant to be driven. I can’t remember how many times we’ve driven it down to Le Mans. We’ve even put it on the car train to Italy, when all the modern cars got broken into but the Jaguars didn’t.

We’ve modified it a bit over the years, of course. It’s got a steel crank, steel rods, Venolia pistons, and late D-type cams. Chris Keith- Lucas learned how to get big valves into a standard 35/35 head, where Jaguar always used the 35/40 wide-angle head for the D-types. It’s pulling out 255bhp and lots of torque – I was a little disappointed because Jaguar always claimed 265, but Chris assured me that’s really good: standard is really something like 180.

The wheels are triple-laced Dunlops, as used by Jaguar for racing in period, though the chrome rims are kind of American, and the 3.54:1 diff was too short for Switzerland so I swapped it for a 3.07 with Powr-Lok. And we use MkIX brakes, which are bigger. It’s really a quick old coupé, and well-sorted.

I’ve done lots of trackdays with it, all at Goodwood, and our GT40 MkIII has been one of the course cars there at the Revival for the last nine years. It wasn’t coming last year, so I suggested we use this because it was the E-type’s 60th anniversary.

It’s still the original paint. When I bought it still looked like new, as it had been mostly indoors for the first 30 years of its life – and it still did when first we took it to Switzerland. But as I kept taking it out the paint started to fade – that’s what used to happen to metallics – and the guys at CKL would polish it, or T-Cut it back, whatever that is.

Then it started going through to the primer and I had to say ‘Stop!’ That’s why, when it’s resting, it wears a big sign on the windscreen saying ‘DO NOT POLISH’.

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