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1965 Kougar Sports Roadster

In the late 1970s, and Englishman named Rick Stevens set out to build a car of his own based on the legendary British sports cars of the early post-war era, such as Frazer Nash, Allard and H.R.G. These were, after all, the cars of his childhood but they were scarce, sometimes fragile, and likely more than he could afford. So he decided to build his own version of the classic road-racer, but using more modern components. Stevens paired up with the legendary engineers Dick Crosthwaite and John Gardiner (of the now iconic firm Crosthwaite & Gardiner) to design and build his dream sports car.

The 1970s was the age of the kit car, with any variety of cheap fiberglass likeness being built to sit atop a VW or some other similarly ubiquitous chassis, usually with extremely dubious results. There were dozens of manufacturers in the game offering conversions and full bodies to build any type of machine imaginable. Thankfully, Mr. Stevens opted to take a more traditional, British cottage-industry approach. With the help of his engineering consultants, he designed a tubular chassis which accepted the four-wheel independent suspension, four wheel disc brakes and running gear from a Jaguar S-Type Saloon. The Kougar, as it would become known, was immediately set apart from the sea of cheap kits thanks to its high quality construction and sophisticated Jaguar running gear. In terms of styling, the body, cycle fenders and distinctive radiator grille were inspired by the Frazer Nash LeMans Replica of 1950, but given a more curvaceous look on the low-slung chassis. The Kougar had a cut-down cockpit with minimal weather protection and a businesslike dash that featured a full array of Jaguar instrumentation. With its light weight and 3.8 liter XK engine, the Kougar delivered serious performance. While some cars were offered in kit form, most were constructed at the works as this car was designed from the ground up for serial production and finished to a high standard. Today, they are considered classics in their own right, and a handful of lucky enthusiasts have been able to experience the thrill the Kougar Jaguar Sports can deliver.

This striking Kougar-Jaguar is a wonderful example of this rare and exciting sports car. Finished in bold yellow over black upholstery and chrome wire wheels, this car makes a real statement. Of course, there’s plenty of performance to back it up. The yellow paint presents in very good condition, with nice gloss and finish quality on the body’s multitude of curves. Chrome trim is limited to headlights, radiator grille, and a few body fittings and secondary lamps, though it all presents in fine condition. The spartan cockpit is trimmed in simple black upholstery that is in very good condition, tidy and clean. The dash features an array of instruments and switchgear that would be familiar to any Jaguar driver, as they were lifted from the S-Type. Free of wood trim or frivolous detailing, the Kougar is purposeful and businesslike – a serious tool for driving.

The engine and chassis present well, the signature polished alloy SU carburetors and twin cam covers dominating the view under the hood. It all appears very tidy and well sorted, with signs of regular care and attention. It is a very usable example, a car that looks wonderful but also one that should be driven to be fully appreciated.

It is perhaps difficult to classify the Kougar – this is not a kit-car, nor is it a “replicar” or copy of any one model in particular. What we can say for sure is that this is a very well-built and thoughtfully engineered sports car that harkens back to a bygone era of motoring. It has a raw, visceral appeal thanks to the legendary Jaguar XK engine, which, in 3.8 liter form, it is a sweet, rev-happy unit. Four wheel independent suspension and brakes as well as the modern tires on this example ensure surefooted handling which is a vast improvement on the 3.8 S-Type Saloon which donated its chassis components. This is a car that captures the essence of early post-war sports cars in its style and soundtrack, but is imminently more usable thanks to the reliable and flexible Jaguar powertrain. Fast, fun and exciting, this Kougar is ready and willing to deliver its next thrill ride.

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