My Classic Car: Reunited with his classic kitty

Harold 'Hap' Hall's 1970 Jaguar XKE was a special part of his and his family's life. It was sold and was a goner. But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away...

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The 1970 Jaguar XKE Fixed Head Coupe boomeranged to Harold Hall

I think the most remarkable aspect of the story of getting our XKE back is that I was not hunting or searching for it. It was pure Fate that I found it. I like to think it was meant to be.

The Beginning

Midshipman First Class Harold Hall at the US Naval Academy

I purchased the XKE from the original owners while I was at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland, on February 15, 1972. It was the day before my birthday, and one of my best friends at the Academy went with me and witnessed the sale. He had just bought a 70 XKE coupe a few months earlier, and took me to see the car when I first got interested as a result of seeing and being in his car. It was my First Class (senior) year at the Academy as I was graduating in June. The original owners had decided to sell the car as they learned that they were going to have a baby, and needed a car that was more practical than the XKE.

Hap and Jane in the early 1970s

My fiancé (now my wife of some 48 years) and I drove the car on a great many trips. Jane’s home was in North Mississippi about an hour south of Memphis, and I made several trips in it to see her as I was able to do so while still at the Naval Academy. We made a lot of fun trips in the XKE to places such as Newport Rhode Island, Montreal Canada, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and down to Florida where I was assigned to my first ship in Jacksonville (Mayport) Florida.

Children and the XKE
The car has a lot of great early married life memories. Our son Lee was born in May 1975 and had colic. We discovered that if we took him riding in the car at night that he fell into a sound sleep almost immediately. So we spent many nights until he no longer had colic driving him in the car. I always thought it must have been the sound of the resonators and engine that just helped him go right to sleep as Jane held him in her arms. When he was small he would sit on the center console and shift the gears for me as the three of us took the car to a local Tastee-Freeze for ice cream after supper. Our daughter Margaret was born in September of 1977 and now it became less frequent that we were all able to get into the XKE. Both Lee and Margaret recall the XKE as they used to help me wash it when they were small.

Hall’s XKE along with a fellow Midshipman’s British Racing Green kitty

In 1980 our youngest daughter Elizabeth was born. By that time the XKE was used almost entirely by me to go back and forth to work; the car did not like the summer heat and stop and go traffic in Atlanta. We sold the car in 1981 as I needed a more reliable car to commute to work.

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September 2019 and the “rest of the story”
Jane was at an eyebrow appointment and somehow she and her beautician struck up a conversation about our early years and having the XKE as newly-weds. The young lady did not know what a Jaguar XKE was and so Jane asked if I could find an old picture of us and the car from back in our early days so she could show her beautician the car. The night before her next appointment, I remembered that I was supposed to find a picture for Jane to carry to her appointment. Rather than dig into boxes to find a picture, I opted to just go online and google a 1970 XKE coupe so I could print out a picture for Jane to take the next day.

When I googled “1970 XKE 4.2 Liter Coupe” the picture that came up on the screen was this car that was the exact same color of the XKE we had owned. I took the PC to Jane to show her that I had found an online picture of an XKE that looked exactly like the car we once owned. As I was trying to print the picture for Jane, I filled out information as to my name, email address and phone number. I then realized I was on a website of an auction company: RAND Luxury, Inc.

Hap and Jane today

A day or two went by and Andrew Levitt at Rand Luxury called me to ask if I was interested in the XKE that was going to be on auction on October 12. I recall telling him no and explained that I had been online looking for a picture of a 1970 XKE and that this car was the same model and color of a car I had once owned. We had a great conversation about the car, but I was not in the market to buy one. At least I did not think I was!

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I contacted Rand Luxury again and asked if they knew the manufacturer number of the car. It was a long shot in my mind but I was curious if the car was manufactured about the same time as the one I had owned. I still have the paper work from when I had bought the car and then later as I had it registered and titled in Florida and Georgia with the VIN or Manufacturer Number in the case of the British Leyland cars.

photo by Rob Rich/SocietyAllure.com ©2019 robrich101@gmail.com 516-676-3939

When I learned and realized that the car being auctioned was the same one I had once owned, I simply had to have it back. Even now I cannot fully explain this but I wanted it back after almost 40 years. Brad and his team were fantastic to work with and I’ve kept the emails they sent as they were cheering for me as I declared my interest to bid on the car. Frankly I thought it was another long shot that I would be the successful bidder. Brad even worked out for me to bid by telephone as commitments kept me from attending the auction. I cannot say enough about the great experience I had with Brad and his team as I went through the steps of explaining my history with the car and how much help they were to me. I had never bid on a car in an auction before. I also cannot say enough about how Clarkson Hine spent time with me by phone about the car.

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The car was delivered to our home in Greenville South Carolina on October 21 by Intercity Lines and that was a great experience as well. They treated this car like a new born baby getting it to me! It is hard to put into words my feelings at I saw and got inside this car after so long. It is like a new show room XKE!

Jane and I have 10 grandchildren and our entire family is excited that “Mimi and Poppy have their old XKE back”. Lee and Margaret clearly recalled the car from their younger days and I could tell they could not really believe it was back in our family again. My roommate from Navy and his wife came up to see us for the Army Navy game and Ed could not get over the fact that I had the car back and the condition it is in.

So that is the story. Having the XKE back has re-kindled so many great memories. It is as if a great friend that I once had is back again. This time I am keeping it!

— Harold ‘Hap’ Hall’

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12 COMMENTS

  1. This has got to be the best story I’ve ever read in the Journal. Hap, thank you for your service and I hope you and Jane can enjoy driving that beautiful Cat for many years to come.

  2. I agree; great story. And yes thank you for your service. I hope the car remains in the family for years to come.

    When I was in high school and college my dad drove a 69 E-type exactly like yours; it was also sable/tan in color. Prior to that he owned a red 63 roadster. This was unusual as both my parents grew up in Detroit and my grandfather joined Henry Ford in 1907 and spent 35 years working for him all over the world. But my dad loved the styling of British Cars and drove them his entire life. Even when he became president of a large international business he continued to drive his 69 E-type even though they would offer him a company car. I saw it again 30 years later and sometimes regret that I didn’t buy it. I now have 3 E-types due to my experience growing up with them. Their’s nothing like a n E-Type Jaguar.

  3. Had A 67 open headlight convertible in BRG that I sold to a guy I had known any years before from lake Poquonock .later bought a 69 coupe in regency red from a guy from Providence. Love to have either one back andI still have my 73 S-3

  4. Great story, why not put the original and current price he paid for the Jag. It would be of interest to the reader. It’s a car mag, price means a lot to collectors. It’s not tacky. It’s part of the story. The before and after. It’s history. Thanks W

  5. OUTSTANDING STORY LOVED READING IT. I HAVE A SIMILIAR STORY WITH 1960 CORVETTE I OWNED WHEN I WENT TO VIETNAM WITH 1ST INFANTRY AS A COMBAT INFANTRYMAN. WAS
    WOUNDED TWICE LOOKED FORWARD RETURNING HOME AND DRIVING IT @ 20 YEARS OLD.
    IT WAS SOLD BY MY PARENTS TO MAKE ROOM IN THE GARAGE. IM 72 YEARS OLD NEVER DID
    I STOP LOOKING OR WONDERING WHY THEY HAD TO DO THAT? OH WELL AT LEAST I MADE IT HOME AND DOING WELL! THANKS RON

    • Understand fully you wondering why your parents sold it. But I sure am glad you came back alive from that terrible war. So many did not. I salute your service in a very difficult time in our nation’s history.
      Hap

  6. I grew up in Annapolis and as a kid I loved goIng over to the Naval Academy to ogle the midshipmen’s sports cars. The XKE was and is my favorite. I probably drooled on yours at some point.

    • As I reflect on how all this took place in my getting my old XKE back, I think there is another “story behind the story”. The story “behind the story” of my finding and getting my XKE back is that of the team that made it happen. That team being Bradford and the members of Rand Luxury Inc.

      In today’s time it strikes me that most attitudes and behavior seem to be driven by “Me, Myself, and I”. About “what is in this for me”.

      While Bradford and his team, Rand Luxury Inc shareholders and owners are certainly aware of the need to increase the monetary value of their business and provide for a sound financial situation in each of their lives, the remarkable interest I saw in my case was all about helping me get my car back. Sure, I paid the customary auction fee. Part of the deal. Got that.

      But the attitude I saw was about my desire to see if I could get my car back. About the past and the present. Bradford, Andrew, Megan….each of the team that I talked with about how to be in the auction and what to expect displayed a very keen “people” interest and not once did anyone come across as “here do this and we will sign you up”

      The personal interest and touch of these people whom I have never before met is the “story behind the story” As we Navy types say, so shall I say “BRAVO ZULU” to THE Rand Luxury Inc Team” for not only helping me achieve the return of my “cat” but for the way you made it happen.

      Harold (Hap) Hall

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