- Adventure of a Jaguar XJ8 -
by George Cox


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Feb. 10 2008 - An Ontario XJ8 Jaguar left Oakville on December 28 for warmer climates in Florida, accompanied by George and Kay Cox. By January it was feeling lonely and went to the Devereaux-Kaiser Car Show in Sarasota. There was in excess of 12 hundred cars with a good turn out of English and European. Jaguar was well represented with an XK120, XK140, XK150, and E-types. It was nice to meet Bill Tracy who specializes in XK120, XK140 and XK150, and makes his own tonneau, solid, for these models.
While at this show I met Ginger Corda with one of her E-types. Ginger, who gave Kay and I an invite to attend the Jaguar Club of Florida rally on February 10, is the co-editor of JAGWire the award-winning newsletter of the JCOF. The rally started at Lakeland in Central Florida and wound through the countryside to Lake Wales.
The weekend started with dinner on Saturday night, attended by out-of-towners and some local members of JCOF, in all 18 attended the dinner. When we were seated and introductions started Kay and I were surprised to discover we were sitting beside Doug and Lori Johnston from Mississauga, a 15 minute drive from Oakville where we live. Doug is a fellow member of OJOA and owner of Leatherique Canada, Doug gave a presentation of his products at a monthly club meeting, the leather cleaning and restoring products are excellent.
Tour day started with a delightful buffet breakfast at the Terrace Hotel Lakeland, followed by a drivers meeting and a goody bag for each car with lots of information about Lakeland and surrounding areas, plus some Valentine treats. Thank you to Ford Heacock for his presentation and base ball caps. to all who participated.
We all gathered in the parking lot, made sure the assortment of cats had survived the night and then it was off to follow Ginger in her 'E'.
First stop was Florida Southern College for a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. This stop was timed to see the domed fountain turned on. The fountain is circular in shape with the jets pointed inward and is 90-feet in diameter. The first building is a hallmark of the Wright buildings on campus. It is the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel and was built between1939 and 1941 with student labour.
Next stop was Hollis Garden, a formal garden on a 1.2 acre site with over 10,000 flowers, ornamental shrubs and shade trees. This was a beautiful location overlooking Lake Mirror. It was a delightful surprise to meet two members of the Hollis family who generously donated the property and thank them. After too brief a stay it was off to Lake Wales.
A scenic drive along the 'ridge' ending up at the Historic Bok Sanctuary, 900 feet above sea level, Florida's highest point.
Our tour took us through some very interesting countryside with lots of lakes and orange groves and the elevation of the ridge gave us some great views.
A rest stop was made at Chalet Suzanne, established 1931, by the Hinshaw family. This Country Inn and restaurant allowed the group to stretch their legs and browse the gift shop and the very interesting Swiss bar. Back in the cars for the next leg of our tour.
After a few miles of more back roads and great views we arrived at O'Hara's Restorations. The parking lot full of American autos, from a 1939 Buick to more modern muscle cars. On entering the first car to greet us was an E-type with a 'new' Royal Enfield motor cycle with only 78 miles on the clock - manufactured in India. Was this a sign of things to come, will Jaguar end up being manufactured in India? After a brief tour of the work shop with many different projects going on at the same time, it was off to our final destination and lunch.
After 87 miles and about four hours of great driving, sunshine all the way, and very interesting stops we reached Historic Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales. This magnificent estate with its gardens and bell tower were certainly worth the visit. The bell tower, to quote the brochure, is a 205-foot Gothic and art deco carillon tower and to see it is an experience like no other. The tower houses 60 bells and is played daily. There is an outdoor seating and a live screening of the person playing the keyboard. The gardens and the view from the highest point in Florida were spectacular.
A great day wound down and it was time to say goodbye to new friends and fellow enthusiasts, who all owe Ginger and Mike a BIG thank you for all the hours and hard work that they put into a very enjoyable and successful day. You deserve a 'tip of the bonnet' from all who participated.