My Car Quest

February 27, 2020

Raymond Loewy Had Difficulty With His Jaguar XKE Even After He Redesigned It

by Mike –

Raymond Loewy , wrote a letter to the editor of Road & Track magazine, Dean Batchelor, in March 1968 to let him know that he had just bought a new Firebird 400 from Jim Wangers and to complain about his problems with his Jaguar XKE.

$3,200 in repairs in one year was a lot of money in 1968 and is expensive even today!

Below is a photo of Raymond Loewy in Road & Track with his redesign of the Jaguar XKE. I can’t be sure but I suspect this is the same XKE he is complaining to Dean Batchelor about in the letter below.

Raymond Loewy And His Custom Jaguar XKE In 1966

Raymond Loewy And His Custom Jaguar XKE In 1966

Read the letter yourself and make you own judgements. Note Raymond Loewy’s penmanship is excellent. Click on the image for a larger view and read the letter.

Raymond Lowey letter to Dean Batchelor about Jaguar XKE

Raymond Loewy letter to Dean Batchelor about Jaguar XKE in 1968

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Sell your classic Jaguar on My Car Quest – click here.

My thanks to Ron Kellogg for the copy of this letter.

Comments

  1. Raymond Loewy was one of my hero’s and a great influence on my automotive life. The XKE, like Lowey’s Avanti was a work of art. Where the reliability of American built cars was established, Jaguar was always a great looking and performance car that was known to have more than its fair number of flaws. I think those of us in the industry knew of the price to be paid for a Jaguar, until recently, was in the need for having a AAA towing card and patience. Ah! but when it ran it was glorious and the way it looked made everyone admire the E type. Late in 1970 the first new car I bought was a New E type roadster. When I went to take delivery at the dealership it would not start. Two days later I was called to once again take delivery of my new car, they replaced the battery and the starter. When I started the engine oil came poring out from under the car. I was hoping to have my new car to drive to a race in West Palm Beach. The car died half way there. I was not left stranded for long as one of the race team transports was not far behind and picked me up. The next week the dealer, who I did a great deal of parts business with, offered me new 280SL and we did the transaction. The SL was an example of great German Engineering and build quality, a wonderfully reliable car, that lacked the sexiness of the Jaguar or the direct connection to the road. We did a great amount of Jaguar work at my shop and years later I was a Jaguar tech and worked very closely with the distributor on solving production and build problems during the British Implosion of the 70’s. I still love the Jags, maybe because I went into it with eyes wide open.

  2. Jaguars are known for not exactly being reliable, but maybe Mr. Loewy’s E-Type was breaking down in protest of his awful redesign. He also redesigned the classic BMW 507 with similarly disastrous results. That said, I do like the Avanti and a few other designs of his.

  3. Loewy was an amazing appliance designer for his time. Ok maybe Greyhound Scenicruiser buses, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators why not, but I never liked the design of the Studebaker Avanti (contrary to consensus opinion) and I know not of one car which he succeeded in designing or redesigning to the quarter of 1% of the level of a Pininfarina, Giugiaro, Bertone, Ghia, you name it.
    Nice toasters, yes, but cars are not just any object you can shape soullessly.

    • Mark Kennedy – don’t forget his corporate logo designs and the livery on Air Force One.

      • Hi Mike, hope you are well, the guy was an icon of industrial design, no taking that away from him, and I must admit I am admirer of his work. I just don’t like his car designs which, lets say, is a total personal opinion. What do you think about his car design talents?

        • The title of this article is “Why Redesign Perfection?” – http://mycarquest.com/2012/12/why-redesign-perfection.html

          That title should give you a clue about what I think about his Jaguar custom design. I am an Avanti fan, however.

          • Cheers Mike,
            Fair enough – yes, the Avanti was probably one of his best performances in the automobile space and quite original. I remember your extremely well titled article “Why Redesign Perfection?”. Couldn’t agree more. Such a beauty the XKE or all E-types for that matter.
            The comments to that article show divided opinions. I might be slightly too black or white in my car design opinions. There is a middle ground. Its about taste, not about scientific truths :-).
            all the best,
            Mark

  4. George Elliott says

    i find this a very Interesting article here ! I currently own the 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400 that Raymond Lowey spoke about purchasing in this letter along with the original sales document from the Pontiac dealership in Paris that show Raymond as the purchaser (including the vehicle vin # and all the option’s ordered with the car the sale document is dated June of 1968 and is a 68 Firebird 400 HO with a turbo 400 transmission ! to my knowledge the car was modify by Raymond and then used as a race car and has a documented 10068 Kilometers on it. this is the first article I have come across about this letter since I purchased the car years back ,I do have photo’s of Raymond and the car I acquired from a museum that were taken in France in 1969-1970 George

Speak Your Mind

*