Cats that are the cream

Jaguar Legends specialist car hire owner Vince Marsh offers Essex Life motoring editor Adrian Foster the drive of his life

Jaguar Legends specialist car hire owner Vince Marsh offers Essex Life motoring editor Adrian Foster the drive of his life

IT HARDLY seems 45 years since I caught my first glimpse of a Jaguar E-Type on the cover of Autocar magazine. Its sleek nose recalled the exciting Jaguar D-Type racing cars that made history at the glamorous Le Mans 24-hour motor race.

Wind the clock forward a few years and there I was, duster in hand, polishing the bonnet mascot of my father's Jaguar 3.8 Mark 2, resplendent in golden sand paintwork with chrome wire-spoked wheels. So when speciality car hire company Jaguar Legends offered me the chance to drive their cars it was an offer I could not resist. Based at their beautiful Victorian home in Theydon Bois near Epping Forest, husband and wife team Vince and Lynn Marsh have turned their passion into a thriving business. 'Like most kids I loved Dinky Toys and my favourites were the Jaguar Mark 2 and the E-Type. I saw our first Mark 2 on an exhibition stand at Alexandra Palace a few years ago and persuaded the owner to part with it. It is one of the rare 3.8-litre models and is worth in excess of £30,000,' explains Vince. Since then, Jaguar Legends' collection has grown with the acquisition of a second Mark 2, a gleaming red 1961 E-Type Series One roadster, a 1972 E-Type Series Three roadster 5.3-litre V12 with the rare manual gearbox, a beautiful maroon 1958 Jaguar XK150 drop head coupé and a superb 1993 XJS 4-litre convertible. News has travelled fast since Jaguar Legends was established just a year ago, with enquiries coming in daily from all around the world. 'I was being interviewed by a well-known classic car magazine when a call came through from a businessman flying to England from Nashville who was reading a copy of the same publication and wanted to rent one of our cars to drive while over here. We recently had a telephone call from an agency doing a photo shoot for the Ted Baker clothing brand that wanted a 1958 car for their set. They were delighted when we sent them the XK150,' recalls Vince. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for arrived and I climbed behind the wheel of Vince's gorgeous dark green 3.8 Mark 2 and manoeuvred the big cat gingerly out onto the road. I was struck by how civilised and driveable the 44-year-old engine was compared with modern cars and also by the absence of luxuries we take for granted such as air conditioning, decent ventilation and heated rear windows. There are two membership packages available from Jaguar Legends offering savings on their daily hire rates. Gold Club membership entitles a person to eight days with any of the Jaguars, on days of their choice, including one overnight stay at any of their recommended hotels, with Champagne in their room on arrival.

For a little less one can opt for the Silver Club package which entitles the member to five days with one of the cars, with a luxury seasonal hamper in the boot in case you get peckish. Now, where's my chequebook...

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