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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

This Gorgeous Roadster was Built to Save Old Jaguars



Lots of people don’t like to get rid of an old car—they feel some type of attachment, sometimes financial, many times emotional. Rick Stevens was one such person. 
In the 1970s, Stevens owned a Jaguar S-Type sedan, which by the end of its life had little scrap value. He could have crushed it. He could have heaved it over a cliff. He could have left it in a shed. He didn’t.

Instead, Stevens ripped out its Jaguar mechanicals and created his own lightweight sports car. This stunning shape is what followed—a reborn, rebodied Jaguar—now known as a Kougar Sports roadster.


Stevens completed his first prototype in 1976, marrying that S-Type powertrain with a space frame chassis, Jaguar suspension, and this supremely eye-catching roadster body. Initially alloy, the later cars received fiberglass bodies and fenders. The styling? That’s said to be a mix of Frazer Nash TT and the Healey Silverstone, but there may be a bit of Allard J2 in the recipe as well.

By 1979, Stevens’ Kougar Cars began revitalizing Jaguars on a larger scale, and according to the Kougar Owners Club, around 200 of the Jag-powered Sports roadsters have been built over the years. A “Monza” model eventually followed, which was designed to accept Ford engines and later adapted to sport Rover V8s, Jaguar XK V8s, and even Jaguar V12s.


The engine in question on this Kougar, which recently popped up on eBay, is a ‘60s 3.8-liter XK6 straight-six. It breathes through dual SU carburetors and puffs out via a short-running side pipe exhaust. The resultant 230 horsepower is sent to the ground through a four-speed manual gearbox. Befitting the lightweight roadster shape, you don’t get much in the way of extras.

Longtime Car and Driver and Automobile editor David E. Davis Jr. once concluded, “it has no top, no windshield, wipers, no doors, no seat adjustment, no sound-deadening insulation of any kind, no radio, no heater (not that it needs one) and no fuel gauge. It is just about perfect.” He meant it too, he actually bought one.
For those of us who can’t afford to drop nearly $100,000 on a Jaguar XK140…the Kougar is a welcome sight.