The ‘Harold and Maude’ Jaguar E-Type Hearse is Amazing!
Originally Posted on Petrolicious
Photography by Ted Gushue
Seeing a Jaguar E-Type today is a treat. Seeing one that’s been turned into a hearse though? That’s truly rare. The morbid machine first came into existence in the cult classic film Harold and Maude, and, wanting a movie car of his own, Ken Roberts decided to recreate the famous slab of black Jag for his collection. With years and untold amounts poured into bringing this car to life, it is now touring the country, reincarnating the movie car’s aura for new audiences.
Is it a little macabre? Sure, but it’s also just plain old cool too. Purpose aside, doesn’t the shape of the thing just, work? It’s at least as close as we’ll get to an E-Type shooting brake, and anyone with a pulse should take an interest in that.
Ted Gushue: How did this whole project get started Ken?
Ken Roberts: Well, the way the thing came about- I knew George Barris for 13 years. The Batmobile was of course a big part of his life, and around the time of its sale I really started to fall in love with the idea of having a “Movie Car.” I’d always loved Harold and Maude and the little Jag hearse from that film, and I was in a position to take on a new project, so we got started with my friend Don Kessler.
We started by scouring the United States for what we assumed must have already existed, we wrote letters to Jaguar clubs, looking for somebody who may have made one already. Couldn’t find anybody though, so Don and I said stupidly, “Why don’t we build our own?” That’s what got it started.
In the movie, Harold builds his in about two days. Well, it took us four years, and more money than I even want to admit to.
TG: So, for the movie hearse, who built the actual car they used?
KR: The same guy that built the Batmobile. Most people think George Barris built that Batmobile. He did not. He owned the title to it, and sold it for a handsome profit. He didn’t even design the Batmobile. He contracted that out to another builder in Hollywood, and he was just a teenager at the time.
They built the Batmobile in three weeks, and a few years later, the same person built the Harold and Maude Jaguar, not knowing it was for a movie company. He built it simply for a client, which ultimately was the production company that was operating out of Europe for some reason, perhaps to throw people off. But it took him six months and $32,000 to build it.
KR: I asked him at one point if I could use his name in promotion with the car, and gave him some legal papers to sign. He’s never signed them, so I I can’t give you his name unfortunately. We’ve actually become very good friends though. He’s attended two shows with the car. In fact, the Jaguar club flew this guy in for the international Jaguar festival because we were screening Harold and Maude. It was a sellout. We only had 150 dinner movie tickets, but 350 people showed up for the event. We couldn’t fit them all in!
He got up and delivered a speech that was very well received before the movie started, and the interesting thing is that this was the first time he’s ever even seen the movie. The very first time he ever saw it was that Sunday night when we screened it for the club. Incidentally, it’s a little off the subject, but he also built the motorcycles for Easy Rider. To this day he’s never seen that movie.
TG: That’s quite the portfolio of star cars, and bikes. So, how did yours start its life though?
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