Highlights from the History of The Jaguar Drivers Club of Australia
The First Twenty Five Years
The JDCA celebrated fifty five years of existence in February of 2019 and it is therefore appropriate for a brief story of its history to be told.
On the 4th February 1964 a very enthusiastic group with limited resources started the Jaguar Drivers Club of Australia as a branch of the Jaguar Drivers Club in England. As a result and, interestingly, the President therefore was Sir William Lyons and the committee consisted of various well-credentialed Englishmen and European royalty.
Early membership numbers were around the ninety mark with Concours d'Elegance being the main interest. The Club magazine started in August 1965 and the Register organisations started fifty years ago this year with the XK group in 1969.
The initial meetings of the JDCA were held at C. V. Murray's Jaguar Sales and Service Centre at in Parramatta but in 1966 the Club moved to rented premises above a shop in Great North Road, Five Dock. Members worked extremely hard to restore the rooms painting the walls and dyeing hessian for curtains. Included for member's entertainment were a slot car track, table tennis and dartboard. Paying the rent was dependent on serious drinkers and things didn't go as well as planned. By 1969 the Club had been forced to move its meetings to the Australian Racing Drivers Club in Leichhardt.
The first Sydney Concours d'Elegance was held at Vaucluse House in 1965 and then for a number of years it was held in Centennial Park. The first “National” Concours d'Elegance was held on June long weekend 1969 in Albury/Wodonga in conjunction with the Victorian Club. The 50th National Rally was conducted there 2019 by the Victorian Club in celebration.
At the Concours d’Elegance in 1966, star attraction of the day was “Jumbo” Goddard’s ‘D’ Type Jaguar XKC 402 (number plate OKV1) which ran second in the 24 Hour race at Le Mans in 1954. Sadly, of all the D-Types to have been owned and raced in Australia have been sold to overseas buyers. The last remaining one, XKD 520 owned by Keith Berryman since 1968 was sold only a couple of years back. It took pride of place at the 2013 National rally organised by the JDCA at Wollongong.
The JDCA thrived and prospered as a branch of the Jaguar Drivers Club of England until 1975 when an increase in their fees prompted a decision, after much debate, at that year’s AGM for the JDCA to become independent with some dissident members maintaining their English Club membership privately.
In 1977, the then Vice President, the late Ian Cummins who was the club’s Patron from 2001 until his untimely passing in 2016, organised with circus owner Stafford Bullen to bring a live genuine Jaguar to the Concours at Vaucluse House. The press became aware of this and a photo of the Jaguar, taken sitting in an SS100, appeared in the next day’s paper. Some days later the Club received a letter from Vaucluse House demanding to know why the Club had allowed a non-native wild animal to be in their grounds without authority!
Concours d’Elegance continued to be the main focus of the Club and, by the early 1980’s, the standard of preparation had risen to great heights with full professional restorations entering the scene. It was, and is, still possible for a private restoration to be very competitive, and indeed win, but the standard remains at a very high level to this day.
The Last Thirty Years
The early to mid eighties could well be described as tumultuous years for the Club with much aggravation, dissent, and notices of motion and points of order being brought up at meetings, caused mostly by the “old guard” resisting changes. These years were very trying on committee, and financially difficult, but with hard work the Club repositioned itself as a harmonious group with a solid financial footing. Since the 1980’s, the Club has held its monthly meetings at a number of different venues: Hunters Hill Bowling Club; West Strathfield Bowling Club; Homebush Bowling; Sydney Rowing Club at Abbotsford. It held its meetings at Denistone Sports Club from 2004 until 2018 when the venue changed ownership and we had to relocate temporarily to Brush Farm Bowling Club. In September 2019 we relocated to Strathfield Golf Club where we are welcomed, wanted and needed.
The annual Concours d’Elegance has been held at various venues over the years: Macquarie University; Rozelle Hospital Oval; Museum of Fire Penrith; St Ives Showground; Fox Studios and Parramatta Park to name but a few. Since 1999 it has been held very successfully in conjunction with the All British Car Display at the Kings School in Parramatta.
The JDCA has been very strong in National Concours events and has won many class, sporting, and team prizes and has won over 20 outright Concours trophies since their inception in 1976. There have also been numerous class wins and four outright wins at the annual Council of Motor Club’s display days.
While Concours d’Elegance continued to be a main event for the JDCA, sporting activities were under represented until revved up during the 1990’s. Accordingly, the Club’s entrants have been very successful in the Combined Sports Car Association series of Supersprints winning Champion Club every year from 1993 to 1997 and then again in 1999, 2000 and 2002. With other podium places included, the Club has achieved an enviable record of sporting success in recent years.
In addition, the various JDCA teams in the annual Alfa Romeo Club Six-Hour Relay Race at Eastern Creek Raceway have achieved a top-three finish every year entered after 1993, including two overall handicap wins and two marque wins.
A consequence of the renewed interest in the sporting side of the Club inevitably led then to a down turn in involvement in Concours and that situation seems to turn around from time to time. Sporting is still very active but Concours standards are still very high, albeit with sometimes fewer entries.
In 1991 the Club staged the inaugural “Mountain Rally” which went on to become a very special and hugely successful annual event. What had been envisaged initially as a week-long drive in the countryside on secondary roads to give owners an excuse to get their special vehicles out of the garage, quickly became a full-on serious navigational rally. It gained in popularity and attracted Repco and Shell as the major sponsors for the first four events then ran without a major sponsor until 2000 when dwindling entries forced a temporary halt. Reinvigorated a few years later, it became what it was originally intended to be and once again proved popular with JDCA members, albeit reduced to a weekend only activity. It has been a very welcome source of funds for the Club and is largely responsible for the JDCA’s strong financial position today.
The Club is now in very sound shape with membership growing from around 400 memberships 20 years ago to nearly 700 memberships today. In the JDCA a membership can be an individual or a family group. It has been very strong in its Sporting endeavours, doing just what founder Sir William Lyons intended with his high performance vehicles and, with a continuing renewed Concours emphasis, is living up to its charter of continuing to ensure preservation of the marque.
The Club has grown not only in membership size but also in activities for members. The Club now has a large number of social activities in the form of our many runs to which all members are welcome, these usually involve a drive to some interesting location where we socialise over a picnic or BBQ lunch, or on some occasions at a restaurant.
(Updated Oct 2019)