I’ve always been very interested in Jags. They have been unique to me and are indeed unique in that each seems to have their own personality. That’s why I’ve chosen to name them based on what their personalities reflect to me.
The first time I saw a Mark IX in halfway decent shape was an ad on a 1959 Jaguar Mark IX from California. While it was not in great shape, it did look very stylish and I bought it and brought it to Alabama.
Looking at it, I was at a quandary of what I should do to refurbish it because I knew what a major undertaking that would be. I had talked for a long period of time to Mark Crowe about renovating a car. After much discussion, I had zeroed in on the color that I wanted ssSyvlia to be which is presently two colors of blue as well as what engine I wanted to go into it, what types of brakes, what type of interior, audio system, etc. At that point I met with Mark and his wife Tami to put the finishing touches on a plan to renovate ssSylvia.
As fate would have it, I found a 1956 Mark VII at an auction in Florida with exactly what I wanted ssSyvlia to be. Although I had yet to secure it at this point, Mark and Tami told me that I’d be foolish not to just buy this car instead of investing the expenses in ssSylvia. Instead, I sent my friend Eric Joiner, the best gentlemen I know for securing classic cars, on a pursuit to southern Florida to purchase the car now known as Smokey. It is my favorite car in my collection.
But what to do with Sylvia?
I still was excited to do something with her to dress her up as she should be though many years she spent in a barn, so alone. I knew that bringing her out should be done in a festive way. I told Mark to go ahead and start the work to see the direction she was to take.
Now, we have progressed to the point on ssSylvia that all the chrome on the interior – everything but the actual body – has been removed from the car and the seven remaining pieces have been sent to Louisiana to strip and coat before putting back together.
ssSylvia now is back in Mark’s shop and he’s very excited on the direction we’re taking her. The mission is to make her more of a sporty sedan – for things like autocross racing and other types of events. The power she will have and the suspension she will have will make her superior to those who compete with her.
To date, Mark has put an LS9 Engine in her and a very accommodating 4L80 electronic transmission from Performance Automatic. We started with this brand new frame, which would be the foundation of the car. Interestingly enough, Jaguars have never had a strong frame.
After the frame, we added the engine, a transmission and a body. Things such as the trunk floor have been added. But unique to this car is an apparatus Mark has devised for the driver’s side. When the driver door opens, an arm will extend out to pick up my wheelchair with me in it and place me under the steering wheel. I’ll close the door and be able to drive off with my wheelchair secure. This is very unheard for a car, and a lot of the people who provide such apparatuses said it couldn’t be done.
But of course, as you’ll find elsewhere on this site, Mark is a very unique individual, so we’re proud to say it’s functioning very well at this point. You can follow our blog and Facebook page for more information on the development of ssSylvia as she grows and matures into a fine sporty sedan. You can check out Episode 1 of ssSylvia’s progress here.
An undertaking such as this is not an easy task from a decision making standpoint. We’re still discussing the color Sylvia should be and I encourage anyone to give us input on anything from how they have built cars with the LS9 engine to the color of the car. I encourage you to write in the comments and I look forward to giving you additional information.