Like many of us, Matthew Brett has a bucket list - a collection of cars that he would love to own before he kicks the proverbial receptacle. Only the 35-year-old Brit is, unlike most of us, actually making his way through that list. The first one to be ticked is his utterly beautiful 1973 Jaguar E-Type convertible. It's a slice of motoring history and we're privileged to have it in our midst.
Dubai-based Brett is a project manager in the construction industry and has been based in the UAE for 10 years, after relocating from York in the UK. And while E-Types aren't exactly seen on every street corner in his home country, he wasn't expecting it to be quite so difficult finding one to buy over here. "I simply couldn't find one," he says as the silver sculpture glistens under a winter sun. "So I resorted to searching on the internet and, after six months, I found this one in Denver, Colorado."
Sensibly, Brett refused to buy it unseen, so he flew to the US to check it for himself. "I had some assistance from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in the UK," he says, "and they confirmed that the car's colour combination was as it left the factory, and that the engine and chassis numbers matched up. Another thing in the car's favour was that it had remained in the hands of the same owner from new. He hadn't used it much, mainly as a show car, and the weather there is pretty dry so it was unlikely to be riddled with rust. It only had 46,000 miles [74,000km] on the clock, too, and this was all backed up with stacks of documentation."
Brett reasoned that, while he loved the thought of an earlier, straight-six E-Type, a later example would prove more reliable. "It's the most evolved," he nods, "and the thought of breaking down on the Sheikh Zayed Road in heavy traffic has never really appealed. So I chose to go for the newest I could find."
Has this cautionary approach to E-Type ownership worked? "Well," he says, "it has started every time I've turned the key, and I can't even say that about my Land Cruiser. Mind you, it does obviously pay to be careful about how and when you use any classic car, especially here. I wanted a US-spec car from the word go, because it would be left-hand drive and would have air conditioning, but I'm not sure I'd want to try it out in the middle of one of our summers!"
The car is getting plenty of exercise at the moment, though. "I use in most weekends on Dubai's quieter roads and it's regularly valeted so always looks its absolute best," adds Brett. This didn't go unnoticed at last year's Emaar Classic Car Show in Dubai's Downtown area, where it collected a Best in Show award, presented by Mohammed Bin Sulayem.
He says that its reception on public roads is rather mixed. "Some people just don't know what it is," he smiles. "I get odd looks from other drivers, who obviously don't realise that this car has old-fashioned brakes and that it must be driven with more thought than their modern cars. But then, I see some drivers who put their thumbs up and sound their horns because they know exactly what it is and they're just happy to see it on the road, being used."
As much as Brett loves his E-Type, however, it's time to part company, and it's for sale. "You know that bucket list?" he quizzes. "Well there's a Lamborghini Countach on it, and that's next."
Having seen the determination he showed in finding the best E-Type out there, expect to see a startling Italian wedge on the roads soon. When Jaguar's new F-Type hits showrooms next year, pristine E-Types will be really big news, so if you're lucky enough to find Dh360,000 down the back of your sofa, this could represent a pretty sound investment. And even if it does break down, you can always just stand and look at it. Money well spent.