At the end of October 1988, my wife, Pat, bought me a 1974 Jaguar XKE V12 roadster for my 50th birthday. Three weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, we were told she had a massive low skull base tumor. They told us that in six months she would be violently ill and terminal. She had surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, in December of 1988, which was followed by 30 radiation treatments in June and July of 1989. Pat survived, and we spent the next nine years restoring the Jaguar.
We have shown it all over the U.S. and Canada, and it took first in class in Jaguar Clubs of North America Sanctioned Shows in 2001 and 2002, and was thus declared National Champion for both years. It also took first in class at the Beverly Hills Concours, Greenwich Connecticut Concours, and Keels and Wheels Concours in Seabrook, Texas. When we finished showing it, it had earned seven perfect scores of 100 and many 99.9s. This vehicle will always hold special meaning for me.
I definitely owed Pat one. When we finished restoring the Jaguar, I began to search for a car for her. In fall 2004, a friend called and asked if I would help sell their 1955 Ford Thunderbird. The car had been purchased new by her father-in-law, Dr. Wherry, of Pekin, Ill., and had been in storage for 20 years. It was Torch Red and came heavily equipped, with power brakes, steering, windows and seat, as well as automatic transmission, fender skirts, engine dress-up kit, and both hard and soft tops. It was the perfect car for Pat, but every component that held fluids was leaking.
I knew I was buying a lot of work, but I decided to purchase it as a Christmas gift for Pat in 2004. I put it in the garage with a couple of big red bows on it, and she was happy! She told me from the beginning that the only part of the car that belonged to me was the maintenance and repair. If it ran, it was all hers. It was mine for 7½ years as it went through a total body-off rotisserie restoration.
In August 2012 we took it to our first show, the Classic Thunderbird Club international Convention in Memphis. There were 220 Thunderbirds from 1955-57 in attendance inside the air-conditioned Cook Convention Center. At the awards banquet, we were surprised when Pat received the Gold Award from the Memphis Convention and the Gold Medallion from the International Organization, as well has having her car elevated to Senior Status. Later that year she was given the Illinois State Champion Award at the Illinois Secretary of State Show in Springfield, Il. At this year’s show, the car was recognized as last year’s State Champion and given a sport right in front of the Illinois State Capitol Building.
Carrie’s been with Hagerty for a little over 6 years, she works in Private Client Services as an account executive. If she could have any collector car it would be a restored International Scout.