There is something of a hulabaloo going on within the JCNA (Jaguar Clubs of North America) at the moment, concerning the “Driven” class within the Concours competition. The crux of it is a ruling whereby cars in the “Driven” class are now allowed to be trailered to the competitions. To some people, including your author, this is ludicrous.
JCNA Concours are judged on “originality” and “authenticity”, meaning that as presented a car should be as close to the condition it left the factory at Brown’s Lane, Coventry all those years ago. To win at a concours requires a lot of effort, in preservation, and in restoration (if required.) This is a bit different than the more general and widely known “Concours d’Elegance” competitions such as Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, where subjective issues of beauty, rarity, historical significance, and provenance are thrown into the mix. Theoretically the JCNA style event is objective, where a judge compares a guide (canonical data compiled by JCNA concerning the models) to the physical car, and deducts points for parts judged not original, or not authentic. They have three classes: Championship. Preservation, and Driven. Championship class cars are frequently almost flawless, and are usually freshly restored, or are “trailer queens”… that is they are never driven on public roads if it can be avoided, and often are only driven on and off trailers. They are truly “show cars”. The Preservation class is for older cars who are original, but have gathered that wonderful aging we call “patina” in the car world. The ‘Driven’ class was created for people who actually drive their cars. The point scale is more generous, ignoring things like dings in the paint, and not judging the engine bay or boot of the vehicles. Overall originality is important, but “drive-ability” and “comfort” modifications are allowed, such as contemporary tire sizes and CD players.
To those of us who DRIVE our cars the Concours field is looked at with opinions that range from mild amusement to derision. Terms like “Competitive Car Washing”, “Concours d’Arrogance”, and ‘The Q-tip Brigade” frequently come up. When you drive a car, as it is meant to be driven, it collects dirt, bugs, replacement parts, and often modifications for the sake of driving pleasure, reliability, or economy. My car could NEVER win any JCNA Concours in the Championship or Preservation classes. It is not original, nor is it authentic. I could enter it in the Driven class, but it could never win. It is just not possible. The standards of “originality” and “authenticity” are kind of like the central plot point in that old 80s fantasy flick “Highlander“… there can be only one. So long as your car has even JUST one thing “wrong” with it, you WILL lose.
By allowing “trailer queens” to compete in driven, honest to goodness driven cars will only be driven from the Concours field. It will become merely the second-tier of the Championship class, where older trailer queens go when they can’t compete anymore. The truth here is that a Concours is a competition. Sure, there’s all sorts of joy to be had by hanging out with car guys all day and shooting the breeze… but at the end of the day one car wins and the others don’t. That is the difference between a “show & shine” and a Concours, JCNA or otherwise. If they are going to award a prize at the end of the day then driven has to mean driven. Otherwise it is just a farce.
I love the JCNA Slalom, and literally maintain my membership for that reason only. If they’d have TSD rallies in my region I’d do those too. But if you sever see my car on a JCNA Concours field then you will know I’m dead – the Concours rules as they stand today, are just patently absurd.
I love the history, beauty, and refined rawness that is the Jaguar E-type. It is truly a snapshot of all that was possible in 1961. It is however a machine with utility in mind. Like the horse it replaced, the automobile is a beautiful beast of burden. Just as the horse is meant to be seen at full gallop across a field of grass, a car is meant to be seen roaring over asphalt. To trailer a car to a Concours is akin to having a stuffed horse on display. It is an insult to the viewer, and a mortal injury to the horse.