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Updated: Nov 4, 2021


This car lover grew up in a world of iconic, all-American vehicles, but something changed when she saw this 1971 E Type 4.2. Elizabeth “Widgie” Pierpont, 57 years old, who works in real estate and lives in Bennington County, VT, on her 1971 Jaguar E Type 4.2, as told to A.J. Baime.

Elizabeth ‘Widgie’ Pierpont with her 1971 Jaguar E Type convertible. She has owned the car for 38 years.

I grew up in a tiny town north of Chicago. My father was a huge car enthusiast. I remember all of his cars: a 1963 Lincoln Continental, a 1964 Corvette, a 1968 Mustang, a 1974 Mercury Cougar, a 1976 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. These were just a few. All his cars had one thing in common: They were all American.

He let me drive to the carwash, starting when I was 11. I learned to drive stick shift in the family 1974 Mercury Capri. From 1978 to 1982, my father sponsored a Corvette race car, and I went to a lot of races with him, all around the Midwest.

The Jaguar E Type is one of the most revered of all classic cars. A convertible like this one was the third automobile to enter the Museum of Modern Art’s design collection.

Both my parents died when I was 18. It was very traumatic. I was a freshman in college, and my brother and I were not in a position to take care of the cars. So we sold them. My brother had a few dollars in his pocket, and he bought a vehicle. I remember thinking: Well, if he can do that, why can’t I? I started looking around at dealerships in Chicago.

When you really fall in love with a car, it’s true love. That’s how I felt when I first saw this 1971 Jaguar in 1983. The E Type was a classic. (The model was often called XKE in the U.S. when the car was built, and is often called E-Type with a hyphen. Ms. Pierpont’s car says “E Type” on it.) It worried me that my dad would not approve—because it was not an American car. But I also thought: I was so enamored of the way he loved and cared for his cars. I knew if I bought this one, I would care for it forever.

Widgie Pierpont likens Vermont’s roads to the country roads of England, where this Jaguar was born.

I kept the car in our garage at the home where I grew up, while I was in college. After that, I moved to Chicago for work. I found a great underground heated garage with people who would take care of my car, because I was working all the time. In 1993, I got married and moved to Seattle. We were not sure if we would stay, so the Jaguar remained in Chicago. In 1995, I had my son. Two and a half years later, I had my daughter. We moved to Bangkok for a short time. Then Rye, NY.

The original interior. Under the car’s hood: a 4.2-liter, inline, six-cylinder engine that puts out 245 horsepower.

All of which is to say: This past spring, I finally had the time to give this car the love I wanted to give it. I had the mechanicals redone. For most of the 38 years I have owned this car, I put about 2,000 miles on it. I have put nearly that much on it in the past six weeks.

I live in Vermont now, and it is the first place I have lived where I am surrounded by beautiful roads. The roads resemble the country roads in England, where this car was born. Low-sloping roads, 50 mph, past farm stands and sheep—it is the perfect place to drive a car like this with the top down, even on a bad hair day. I also think that the preservation of classic vehicles is essential, and I want to do my part. Vermont’s roads are ‘the perfect place to drive a car like this with the top down,’ Widgie Pierpont says, ‘even on a bad hair day.’

This past September, I took my kids to a car show called The British Invasion, in Stowe, VT. It’s a weekend event for British cars. We had so much fun, and I think they learned something about why having a vehicle like this one is special. Sharing the joy with them! That is what my father did for me.