More than 40 Jaguar Car Club members from three states and their XJC model vehicles were in Mildura recently to celebrate the iconic car’s 45th birthday plus one!

The group spent three days in the region, and on the Sunday morning had all of their classic cars on display at Nowingi Place, where they were joined by a number of local Jaguar car owners and their cars.

Geoff Leake, from the Jaguar Car Club of Victoria, explained why the anniversary was really marking 46 years.

“This is the Jaguar XJC 45th anniversary, which was actually meant to be celebrated last year here in Mildura,” he said. “Unfortunately, with the COVID restriction hitting, it was all cancelled but we all kept our accommodation bookings open and we’re back here in the 46th year celebrating the 45th!”

Geoff said: “We’ve got a group of XJC owners here from NSW, Victoria and SA for the event which has been organised by Phil Prior, president of the Jaguar Drivers Club of South Australia, who established the XJC register group more than five years ago.”

Geoff and his partner are the owners of six various models of Jaguar.

The XJC model Jaguars are distinctive, characterised by having just two doors.

“Our XJC is the V12 model with low mileage and in original condition,” Geoff said.

“I once said that I’d never have another V12 – I had one in the 80s. They like to drink the juice, and I haven’t found a service station that they don’t like – even when it’s running perfectly alright with plenty of fuel, it will hesitate when we pass a service station!”

Geoff said the high-performance XJC V12 Jag is capable of doing 145 miles per hour − just on 235 kilometres an hour, which of course could only be legally achieved on a race track.

“They are a beautiful car. Very nice to drive and very quiet in the cabin when it’s on the road … and the engine is pretty much unbreakable. It’s the accessories that make them such a complicated car,” he said.

Geoff’s partner Wandy McIntyre-Leake is the owner of the XJC V12 that the couple travelled to Mildura in for the anniversary.

“It’s been a few years since we were in Mildura and it is interesting to see how much it has developed and changed over the years,” Wandy said.

“We are delighted to be here for the anniversary and while it’s actually the 46th anniversary, because my car is a 1976 model, it’s the 45th for this one.”

“Now living in Bundalong, near Wodonga, Wandy is a Tasmanian.
“I’m a 40-year member of the Jaguar club and I originally joined in Tasmania where I was secretary of that club and a life member before I moved to Victoria to be with Geoff almost seven years ago.”

Wandy said that there are no shortage of activities and outings for members of the Jaguar Car Club to be involved in.

“We go away for weekends and most of the members have three or more models,” she said. “In our case, we have six and two of those are pre-‘1950, Mk5s and there is a whole register of us in Victoria.
“We only do the XJCs every five years, as the Jaguar club is broken up into both model and regional registers and we belong to the north-east register, which is based in Albury.”

The Jag club members stayed at the Mildura Golf Resort, which was pleased to see them in town for the postponed event.

“We had a welcome dinner at the golf resort on Friday night where everybody caught up,” Wandy said.

“And on Saturday night, it was a ‘free’ night and so a few of us ordered in pizza, as we’d had a lovely lunch up at Trentham Estate, which was beautiful, and so people didn’t need much dinner!”

The XJC V12 that Wandy and Geoff drove to Mildura in was purchased from the estate of a Tasmanian car club member who knew Wandy loved the car and so he said that she was to have first option to purchase it when he passed away.

“He bought the car in 1984 and I loved it. I just thought it was gorgeous and he coddled it like a baby and it didn’t go anywhere or get wet,” Wandy said.

“Sadly, in 2014, he died of cancer and he had left instructions with the club president and his partner, that it was to be offered to me first out of his estate.
“Geoff, who has been a Jaguar mechanic for 50 something years, really didn’t want another V12, because they take a lot of looking after.
“I said to him ‘Well what do we do about this one?’ and he said “You’ve got no choice, you’d better buy it!”

“And so we purchased it and it had only done 60,000 kilometres in its first 39 years, and we’ve now done 30,000 in it in six years.

“We’ve had a few stone chips touched up, but it has never been repainted – it’s in original mint condition.”

Mildura Mayor Jason Modica joined the Jaguar Car Club members at the golf resort on Sunday night, having met them earlier in the day at Nowingi Place.

“The XJC was actually launched in Australia at the Aerodrome Ovals in 1976, which is a nice occasion to recognise and remember, and so I thought it fitting to come down and speak to the group tonight,” Cr Modica said.
“They’re having their 50-year event in two or three years time, and so I will be pitching for them to come back to Mildura again, which would be wonderful.”

Councillor Modica said that the XJC is quite a unique car and not many of them were manufactured.

“I think there were only about 1500 of them made and I met with the XJC owners down at Nowingi Place this morning, who were talking up Mildura and what it had to offer,” he said.

“We are delighted to have them in town, given they look for different places to drive visit. I think because we are centrally located between the three states and have the accommodation, amenities and services that they need, Mildura was ideal.
“Many of the members I spoke to this morning mentioned the improvements to the riverfront and other parts of Mildura and they said that there seemed to be a lot of pride in the town and the municipality.
”When you here that back, you know that you are doing something right. “There’s always more work to do but we take those compliments when they come.”

The history of the Jaguar is a fascinating one, particularly as the car was originally known as the ‘Swallow Sidecar’ – ‘SS’.

Because of the war situation and the connotation with the Nazi Party’s Secret Service –’SS’, the company was compelled to change the name.

The first car to bear the ‘big-cat’ moniker, was the 1935 SS Jaguar 2.5l Saloon. It was produced under the Swallow Sidecar name, by the company first set up under William Lyons and William Walmsley in 1922.

Due to the notoriety that the SS name had acquired during the war, the evolution to Jaguar seemed like a natural one and the name became company-wide in 1945.

The Jaguar marque was born and the Mk4 model was the first of these.