Letitia Mace turned her passion into her profession as she built one of the web’s foremost Jaguar community sites – as well as a stable of big cats.
Coincidence, or fate?
On February 8, 1961, Jaguar’s chief test engineer, Norman Dewis, was in a meeting with Gregor Grant, the then editor of Autosport. They were chatting about what would become a rather comprehensive road test of Jaguar’s new sports car, the E-Type.
At the same time as that meeting was in session, in another part of the country, Letitia Mace entered the world. Today she comfortably resides deep within Jaguar circles and there’s no denying that there’s a spooky coincidence to be observed.
Letitia is a woman who turned her passion into a profession – all revolving around the wonderful offerings of Gaydon’s premier export. What Letitia doesn’t know about Jaguars simply isn’t worth knowing. After all, she has owned 15 of them!
As a child, Letitia’s parents treated her to toys for both boys and girls: “Possibly intending to have only one child they wanted to enjoy buying Matchbox cars as well as dolls”, she proposes. “Who knows?”
“I would happily spend hours building roads in my sandpit and ‘driving’ my collection of Matchbox-sized cars around, creating pile-ups and rescuing the casualties with my recovery truck. Strange child – maybe I missed my calling? These days, I try to keep my cars on the road.”
“The different shapes and designs intrigued her and, pretty soon, she could correctly identify almost every car that crossed her path”
Her father was trained as both an electrician and a mechanic, so when he was working on cars at home, Letitia would merrily jump in to lend a hand.
“I’d pump the pedal while he was bleeding the brakes, hold things or fetch tools – all while being drip-fed information from my father. It was a good way to learn,” she remembers.
However, it was a different kind of horsepower that would further cement her love for cars – an actual horse. Letitia rode horses in her spare time and, while doing so, she’d see cars on the road. The different shapes and designs intrigued her and, pretty soon, she could correctly identify almost every car that crossed her path. A seed was sown…
Love at first sight
Over the years, Letitia had many cars, though she admits they were owned on the ‘bangernomics’ basis: “Buy a cheap one from an auction, run it until it dies, rinse and repeat.”
In 2003 the need for something more reliable was growing, especially as she now had a family of her own. Money was put aside and the hunt was on for a sensible estate car. But nothing on the forecourts took her fancy – none of the identikit smooth blobs on wheels scratched an evident itch. Nothing, that is, save a stunning Jaguar XJ6 tucked around a corner. With no price on the window, she assumed she couldn’t afford it, but asked anyway; £2,500, it wasn’t a lot really. That was a lot of car for the money and with the added endorsement of Clarkson on Top Gear stating the XJ6 was a used car bargain, Letitia and her husband convinced themselves it would be just as practical as an estate car – true petrolhead thinking.
The car’s lines spoke to Letitia. It had presence and style: a British bruiser that exuded class and clout in equal measure.
She didn’t know back then that it was just the start of a long-term relationship with Jaguar.
Developing a community
Over the years, Letitia and her husband Nigel enjoyed several Jaguars. The pair made an effort to visit shows and events and the Jaguar soon became more than just a car to them – it was a lifestyle. They loved being a part of that world, sharing stories and adventures with other like-minded fans of the Big Cat.
Sadly though, Nigel, became ill and Letitia left work to become his full-time carer. While their ability to get out and about dwindled, it wasn’t going to stop her from remaining part of that world.
Letitia knew about relevant internet forums, but they didn’t inspire her: “There are too many keyboard warriors. Too many people with the wrong thing to say or simply nothing at all. It wasn’t what I was looking for. Even Facebook is a bit like that, with comments and people arguing. That’s not me.”
So Letitia set up Xclusively Jaguar, an online hub packed with information about events, cars, owners and Jaguar history. It was her voice in the Jaguar world, and the Jaguar world took to it immediately.
“It’s grown so much over the years,” explains Letitia. “It’s on its fourth incarnation now and it’s just getting bigger and bigger. It’s a real labour of love for me, I have stacks of stuff that I need to get up there to make it even bigger. Which I’ll get around to soon.”
It’s a passion realised that has been a great support to not only the Jaguar community, but also to Letitia herself
While Xclusively Jaguar grew, things at home took a turn for the worse. Nigel passed away in 2012, leaving Letitia heartbroken. Because she had been his full-time carer, she now felt she had no mission – nothing to fill the long days. She decided to push things forward with the website and make it more than just a hobby. She wanted to make it her job. Most importantly she wanted to carry on doing what she and Nigel had become so passionate about.
With lots of work and plenty of talks with people to sponsor the website to make it financially viable, Xclusively Jaguar continued to grow. As it stands today, it is the go-to hub for anyone with even a passing interest in the marque. It’s a passion realised that has been a great support to not only the Jaguar community, but also to Letitia herself.
The current cars
“First, there’s Brucie,” says Letitia. “He’s a 1997 4.0 Jaguar Sovereign LWB limousine [X330]. Having previously owned an assortment of 15 Jaguars, and driven more than 75 varying examples, I decided that the model I liked most was the 4-litre long-wheelbase Sovereign from the X300 series, with the ultimate refinements of the 1997 model year. With models from six decades to choose from it wasn’t an easy decision. It was dictated by practicality, pocket and past experience.
“He’s a beast of a car, especially as he’s the long wheelbase version.”
However, his days of chauffeuring the elite are over, as he’s now daily transport for Letitia, who calculates that she and her partner cover around 80,000 miles a year attending events.
“I never thought I would own another 3.6, so was prepared to pay any price for this one”
But those miles aren’t all covered in Brucie. There’s also Letitia’s stunning XJ40, bought after a long search inspired by her desire to rekindle an old flame.
“Ten years ago I owned a 3.6 XJ40 and absolutely adored her,” beams Letitia. “I was persuaded to trade her in for a 1996 SWB 4 litre X300 Sovereign – not Brucie, I hasten to add! In all those years, I wanted a good 3.6 more than I wanted any other XJ40 model – more than an Insignia, and possibly more than the prototype estate.
“I never thought I would own another 3.6, so was prepared to pay any price for this one, and just hoped it would prove to be the right decision. As it turned out, when we finally got the keys, one turn and she burst melodiously into life. On opening the bonnet we were in awe of the condition of her engine bay – she is a worthy candidate for any concours d’elegance! The V5 then revealed that she was a one-owner car, and the wad of MoT certificates confirmed that the 39,200 miles were genuine!
“She is truly stunning, and I feel confident that I now own one of the very best 3.6 XJ40’s still in existence.”
- Get out there and follow your passions. Don’t let anything stand in your way!
- Remember that getting to events and meetings is a huge part of the fun, it will bolster your love for the car considerably.
- Buy a Jaguar! They’re utterly wonderful, and Xclusively Jaguar can help you along the way.