Katzenjammer…

The title of this post could have also been “We don’t buy anything…” Being happy drivers of a Ro80 and a Riley RMA¬†awakened a desire for a car which combines the virtue of both: Like the Ro80 it should be fully capable of driving in modern traffic, including occasional fast legs on the motorway. On the other hand, it should possess the vintage charm of the Riley….

As a fan of classic saloons I was of course thinking of a noble four-door car. However, the “usual suspects” in this segment were either too common or too expensive – or both.

But there was still a car which I had been admiring since reading a 1960s car catalogue as a teenager: The Lancia Flaminia Berlina, skillfully designed by “Pinin” Farina in the late 1950s. Sophia Loren on wheels! Conveniently, the market values for the Berlina remain light years below those of her Coupe-, Superleggera- and Zagato sisters. With a V6 engine offering between 102 and 129HP, depending on the manufacturing date, she iss not a rocket, but adequately powered. Details like the transaxle gearbox or the four back window wipers (outside and inside!) on early models indicate that Lancia was run by engineers and not by beancounters at that time.

In the course of time, quite a lot of Berlinas came on the classic car market; quite surprising, considering that only around 4,000 were built between 1957 and 1970. Offers came – of course – from Italy but also from Switzerland and the Netherlands.Thanks to competent support from experienced Lancisti it was possible to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, for some reason we were unable to find “our” car. The decision wasn’t made easier by the difficult spare part situation, as Lancia was not really into a common part strategy at that time. Begging spare part dealers for the mercy of being eligible to purchase a rare part ( worth its weight in gold)? Not really a compelling perspective. Hence, the Flaminia remains a dream…

But alas, there are plenty more fish in the sea. In particular for anglophile friends of classic cars. Positioned above the beautiful Mk 2-series, Jaguar offered from 1951 to 1961 the Mk VII – IX. “Grace, Pace and Space” was the very suitable advertising slogan. Between 1961 and 1970, the significantly more modern Mk X/420G followed. The biggest Jaguar ever built, with a generous interior space of about the size of Norway.

Compared to their smaller sisters Mk 2 & co, the big jags are undeservedly undervalued, even though they are powered by the same proven DOHC engine. It had actually been developed for the saloon in the late 1940’s, but came to first use in the XK 120. Starting with 3.5 litres and 160 bhp, the engine was continuously enhanced and offered 265 bhp/4.2 litres in the Jaguar 420G. Sufficient to accelerate the heavy saloon to nearly 200 kph. The engine remained in production until 1992.

After a few months we had visited a number of big jags of the Mk VII – 420G series in Germany and abroad. However, many long trips were rather disappointing as the cars did not reflect their flowery descriptions: Cars with “no corrosion” had holes.”Perfect drivers” could not be test driven so that we were expected to buy a pig in a poke…
As a reaction to our refusal after a few days time for consideration, some German sellers dropped the “gentleman’s driver” mask and replied with verbal abuse. One of them even felt obliged to emphasise his social status by repeatedly pointing out that he is a medical doctor and is well connected to some aristocrats (unknown to plebeians like me). Well… Beauitiful cars, but wasted on the wrong people…

Luckily, not all Jaguar drivers are such bigoted chavs… At last there came some reasonable Jags on the market, offered by significantly more likeable and trustworthy sellers. But at that time, a different, even more exclusive marque had caught our attention…

Image gallery (to enlarge, please click on the thumb nails)

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