Grace ... Space ... Pace
Photo provided by Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati
For Rich Frantz, it started in the 1960s as a college kid when he got a MGB Roadster, then a Triumph TR6. Years later, Frantz stumbled on a beat-up ’69 Jaguar XKE. And he was hooked.
“You kind of get the bug for English cars. You accumulate one and then you run into another,” says Frantz.
Frantz, a retired captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve and former manager in design and manufacturing at General Electric, is still pursuing his labor of love as an organizer with the Jaguar Club of Greater Cincinnati. He is also a frequent judge and president of the Cincinnati Concours d’Elegance, which celebrates vintage cars of all types at its annual event in June at Ault Park.
For Jaguar lovers in these parts, however, the big day is July 29 at Sharon Woods when the Cincinnati Jaguar club holds its 14th Concours d’Elegance featuring up to 40 vintage Jags from the early ’50s to recent models.
Frantz says there is added interest this year in the show, since the local club of about 85 members is back with its display after taking a year off. In addition, Frantz expects more entries from neighboring states.
“Many car clubs in the region – Columbus, Louisville, Pittsburgh – are not having shows this year, so we expect our turnout to be greater,” he says.
Many of the cars on display are on a regional and national competition circuit with the judged event sanctioned by Jaguar Clubs of North America.
Local sponsor for the event is Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati, the only dealer in the region for the heritage British brands. The dealership holds a reception and dinner party at its Blue Ash facility the night before the car show and will also feature Jaguars from the prized collection of owner Ed Neyra.
Frantz owns four Jaguars he’s collected over the years – a 1954 XK 120 Roadster, a 1967 340 Sports Saloon, a 1969 XKE roadster and a 2001 XKR convertible.
What’s the attraction of the brand? Frantz says it’s still all about “grace, space, pace,” which was one of Jaguar’s earliest branding statements. And it starts with those curves.
“It is a curvaceous car,” he says. “They know how to do curves. Once you appreciate the style, you see it through decades of design. They were so innovative with their race cars in the ’50s and ’60s and that translated over to the XKE. You appreciate their engineering and they really shocked the car world when they came out at a reasonable price. Once you get used to their style and extraordinary power, you get hooked.”
The ownership of the brand has gone through major changes the last 10 years after Ford sold the Jaguar Land Rover lines to India-based Tata Motors in 2008.
“It appears Tata has given the guys in England a free hand to do the right stuff, so it’s still British designed and built. I think they’ve hit a home run in what they have done,” says Frantz.
He feels the iconic Jaguar is aging well, noting sometimes car purists react badly when heritage car lines are updated to meet 21st century safety requirements. But Frantz thinks significant design changes on the Jaguar line made a decade go have served the brand well.
“They have a more modern design, but they really executed it well. They still have the styling points. You can tell it’s still a Jag and will turn heads.”
But for Frantz and other Jaguar lovers, there is something about the vintage look, feel and even smell that will always resonate.
“My ’67 sedan has all the leather interior, finished walnut wood everywhere. You get into it and it’s like this comfortable men’s club feel. You realize this is really elegant. There’s nothing else like it.”
Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati is located at 9115 Blue Ash Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. For more information, call 513.791.1000 or visit cincyjlr.com. The Jaguar Club of Greater Cincinnati hosts its Concours d’Elegance 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 29 at Sharon Woods. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.jcna.com.