My Car Quest

October 22, 2019

An Open Letter to Joan Baez

from Wallace Wyss –

Say Joanie (excuse me for being familiar, we talked once on the phone maybe 30 years ago when you were doing a radio talk show appearance, I had a question about Jane Fonda…).

Now, I’m a car writer and have a need to know what the Feds sold your car for—you know the sexy Jaguar E-type roadster? That’s for a barn find book I am writing.

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Now for the rest of you here’s the back story. Back in the early ‘60s Joan Baez was a more or less itinerant folk singer. She decided to leave New York City and move out west and somebody had given her the name of a real estate person there who rented her a little one room cabin to stay at the intersection of Highway One and Corona Road.

Joan Baez

When she hit it big she almost wasn’t prepared for it, I mean one minute she’s singing at hootenannies for a free dinner and the next record companies are camping out at her doorstep, contracts in hand.

If you haven’t heard her music, you are missing something. A local Carmel resident, Cynthia Williams, was quoted in an article in Monterey County Now as saying “No one has a voice like that without some supernatural help,” she says. “It was like the singing of some wonderful bird.”

So when the money’s pouring in, she thought it would be a good idea to celebrate by buying a sports car. Not just any sports car mind you but a Jag-U-R (that’s how you are supposed to pronounce it), their new E-type that had a hood seemingly a mile long.

So she orders one in silver, (other accounts say white) and of course it’s a stick (I don’t think they had an automatic until later) and it’s a drophead coupe (sounds grisly, don’t it?) and with wire wheels, probably chrome plated ones.

Here’s the kicker when she went to buy it, she goes with a scruffy boyfriend (think Early Hippie) named Michael New, a Harvard drop-out, and the salesman doesn’t believe she or he have two nickels to rub together when she writes out the check for 6 big ones and slides it across the table. She says “call the bank” and they do and it is and she drives off in the E-type.

Later she goes on a camping trip to Mexico, driving the car in places Jaguars were never meant to go.

Jaguar XKE

I found this picture on Fantasy Junction’s website. The car was SN 875947. I wonder if this could have been the car….?

Meanwhile the money keeps pouring in,and she builds a custom house in Carmel, described in a present day website thusly: “During the tumultuous 1960s this house then owned by Joan Baez served as the “center for non-violence” when the “Chicago Seven” dominated the news. The accommodations include 5 bedrooms and 6 full bathrooms, built around a large terrace and fire pit. A master bedroom with library/office complements the formal living room with baby grand piano.”

But there is a dark cloud on the horizon. She is involved in the Anti-War movement ( I shoulda told her, during our conversation, that I was on The Other Side about that time, dressed in olive drab, training to fight these agitators), well, the Feds took a dislike to her being a spokesperson and opposed her.

Her pitch to the nation was “hey, I don’t like the war, so I’m withholding the part of my taxes that supports the war.”

Their response was more like “You earned it, you pay your taxes” so they take her house, and the Jag.

Now I figured I’d check out this story a little more, I mean it coulda been a borrowed Jag, or loaned like Shelby loaned Steve McQueen a 289 Cobra (so referring to a Cobra as Steve McQueen’s Cobra is a little misleading), so I found the Jag XKE register and thought I was cooking with gas when I found a flat floor early Jaguar XKE roadster was sold roughly around 1961 by the dealer in Monterey and delivered to Carmel about that time but guess what, that was the second one sold in Monterey, that one going to the tiemaker who makes neckties with car motifs.

What’s the odds that—two Jags, same color, both flat floors, being sold in same small town?

Well, anyway the Jag was sold around 1964 at a Federal auction probably still on the peninsula, so what I want to know is, who bought it and for how much and where is that Jag today? I’m betting they sold it extra cheap so her tax bill would be even more….

Why does it matter if it was Joan Baez’s car? Well, it’s called the “Steve McQueen effect.” When his old Lusso Ferrari went up for auction a few years ago, Lussos weren’t red hot, and people didn’t expect a price over a million but damned if it didn’t break a million because then you were not only buying a car that is one of Ferrari’s most beautiful, you were buying a car owned by The Man.

What a name to drop!

Now back to the present, 2016.

OK, sometimes I forget the ‘60s were like, man, 50 years ago and not everybody remembers what I remember and some youngins don’t even know who Joan Baez is but, having been a youngin myself in the Sixties, I think there is a certain amount of status to owning her old car.

I envision buying it and then buying a correct-to-time-period cassette player (or did they just have small 45 rpm record players then?) and putting the tape in there and going to where she lives now in the Monterey** area and pulling up outside the door and tooting the horn and the speakers are playing, at top volume, “Love Song to a Stranger”.

No, don’t worry, Joan, I won’t show, but I want you to know I remain a fan, despite our philosophical differences in the Sixties. I’ve put that all behind us. I just need to know that price,

All the best…

Wallace Wyss

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of the Incredible Barn Finds series. He can be reached at Photojournalistpro@gmail.com – click here to connect.

**I do believe that Ms. Baez moved up north to Woodside, closer to San Francisco, – the same area where Mr. Neil Young lives.

Mike

 

 

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There is a beautiful Jaguar E-Type Roadster for sale here – click this link.

Summary
An Open Letter to Joan Baez
Article Name
An Open Letter to Joan Baez
Description
The author is looking for information about Joan Baez's Jaguar E-Type.
Author

Comments

  1. Glenn Krasner says

    The back story is more interesting than that specific car. A story of that particular time. Much luck in your quest to find that car.

  2. David W. Allison, MD says

    Sounds like a nice car once driven by a communist sympathizer who raged against the rich to share their wealth, but lived a very luxurious life, a true phony.

  3. E-type convertibles are correctly refereed to as Open Two Seaters not drop head coupe.

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