After sticking innumerable flyers on Jaguar windshields, 25 stalwart enthusiasts gathered on September 23, 1983 in the Boardroom at the Board of Trade restaurant in Reno, Nevada. The first officers were: Randolph Wright, President; Palmer Stewart, Vice-president; LaQueta Armstrong, Secretary; Colleen Banes, Treasurer; and Gunter Heyer, Editor. Gunter gave our newsletter its name, Cat Talk.
The group were determined to reach out to all Jaguar owners. The first issue of “Cat Talk” was published in October 1983. That issue contained a roster of 29 excited Jaguar owners and enthusiasts. However, no cars were listed as the concern was expressed that somehow thieves could find these valuable machines in their garages and make off with them in the middle of the night!
Our first dinner meeting was held at Johnny’s Little Italy, which provoked the first crisis in the club when several members failed to show, thus falling short of the number given for the dinner to the restaurant. Our tradition of holding dinner meetings at different dinner restaurants has continued to this day.
One of our charter members, Jim Alder raced an XK 120 in vintage races. Many of the club’s early outings were to Sears Point and the Napa- Sonoma Wine Country and to the Monterey Historic Races. Our first driving event was scheduled for November 20, which was a drive from the Rapscallion restaurant to Walley’s Hot Springs. The hot springs were a good idea but the heavy snowfall prevented any of the Jaguars from venturing out of the parking lot, let alone to Jack’s Valley, Nevada. Undeterred, the club made the trip on January 15 anyway.
In 1985 our club held its first all British car meet, aptly named ‘A Day on the Village Green.’ The President, Randy Wright, also served as the first chairman of the event and gave it its name, drawn from an album by British band of the 60’s, The Kinks. Due to a late start in the year, all available park space was taken in Reno, and the event was held at Mills Park in Carson City, Nevada. To top it off, we got the classic rock station to do a live radio remote from the Village Green in conjunction with a British Rock Invasion Weekend.
In subsequent years, the Sierra Cricket Club put on an exhibition match, there was a British costume contest (picture Charles II with Queen Catherine and Nell Gwynn, or Lord Nelson), and the Sherlock Holmes Society put on a ‘mystery’. We also partnered with the National Automobile Museum, which brought several British cars to the Village Green. On another occasion Reno’s mayor appeared as The Lord Mayor and read a proclamation and declared that day to be “A Day on the Village Green.” So many happy days so much gloriously oil spotted grass! And on September 10, 1985 we had a roster of 37 members. By 1989 we saw 105 cars on the Village Green.
We had some special cars on the Village Green. In 1986, current member Jeff Egner showed the spectacular gray XK 120, which he had just restored. In 1987 we saw an SS 100. In 1988 the 1964 Jaguar E-type coupe that Merle Brennan used to win the SCCA National Championship returned home. 1989 saw the Los Amigos D-type that finished third at the 1957 Le Mans.
The club grew. President Mat Thomas in 1993 made a determined effort to increase membership and raised it to 112. Of the early membership there remains Jack & Pat Campbell, Jeff & Sherron Egner and Charlie & Carolyn Manchester. Iain & Wendy Buxton and Don Johnson have returned after an extended absence.
Please come visit us sometime at one of you dinners or at one of our special events. When you do, put on some good music, whether its the Beatles, the Kinks or Ed Sheeran. The only requirement is that you appreciate the heritage and beauty of all Jaguar automobiles or maybe you just want to hang out with people who tolerate the quirkiness of having two gas tanks.
-By the RJC Founder – Randolph Carleton Wright