I met Jim Morton through my association with the Carolina Jaguar Club. I came to find that Jim had been a fan of Jaguars for years. I joined the club in the early “aughts” when I acquired my first E-Type. It is my unwritten rule for clubs that if you don’t volunteer for a job you are missing out on half the fun of belonging. So when the phone rang and the current club president said that Jim and Mimi Morton were ready to give up the reins to the annual CJC Concours, I said yes, I would take over as concours chair. Jim had been chief judge for the concours in the years before I took over. Recently freed from that responsibility, I asked him what he would consider to be a fun job assignment for him at the concours. We settled on Jim being our guest speaker for the Friday night after dinner slot.
It was then that I found out how Jim would really get into a project. We talked on the phone and we emailed a lot about his talk, which if I remember correctly concerned the 50th anniversary of the E-Type. I remember that he was particularly excited when he discovered that a Playboy bunny had been the visual counterpoint for the E-Type’s unveiling at the New York Autoshow in 1961. He wondered if we could possibly locate her and entice her to come to the concours and be part of his talk. I gently dissuaded Jim from that idea. But I do remember that he gave a fantastic talk about the history of the E-Type. And when the fanbelt disintegrated on Jerry Ellison’s XK-120, Jim was out there in the parking lot well into the night doing a field repair with old panty hose and baling wire.
Jim was a “car guy”. He had worked in the auto industry in Detroit and it showed. He could always be counted upon to provide an automotive themed article for our club newsletter, the Litterbox. For some reason, I remember he was pretty upset about CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) ratings. I don’t really remember why, I just remember that Jim could be very passionate about all subjects automotive.
So I’m going to miss Jim. He was interesting to talk to and fun to be around. Full of the spirit that makes us look forward to every day. Farewell Jim.
Following is an obituary for Jim written by CJC member Bill Bingham. I thought it was very well written and deserved a permanent home.
REMEMBERING JIM MORTON
By Bill Bingham
Longtime Carolina Jaguar Club member, Jim Morton, passed away on September 15, 2014. Those of us who have known Jim over the years know that the contributions that he made to CJC have had a lasting impact on the club and his presence will be sorely missed. Jim is survived by wife Mimi, sons James (wife Tracy) and Peter (wife Jennifer), daughter Ann Eliza (husband Todd Carpenter) and four grandchildren.
For those of you who are not familiar with Jim’s background, he was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on April 25, 1940. He was educated at Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Northwestern University (mechanical engineering with highest honors); and the University of Michigan graduate school of business (with honors). He worked with Ford Motor Company in both car and light truck planning. In 1986, the family moved to Greensboro, NC, where he was the owner of Factory Automators.
Jim and his wife Mimi joined CJC in 1990. When my wife Margaret and I joined CJC in 1997, Jim was the first member I talked to after we joined the club. Being completely new to the whole concours process, I was simply going to go to a concours to look and learn. Jim’s comment was “No, just wash your car a little bit and enter it.” Margaret and I followed his advice and have been active in the club since that time. Doubtless, we are only two of many club members who owe their involvement in the club to his words of encouragement.
Over the years of his membership, he served CJC as vice-president (1995, 1996, 2002), membership chair (1996, 1997), newsletter editor (2000, 2001), club webmaster, club photographer, concours chair (2001, 2005) and concours chief judge (1999-2004, 2006-2010). As club historian, he helped preserve and maintain the traditions of CJC.
In addition to his service to CJC directly, Jim served as Southeastern Regional Director of Jaguar Clubs of North America (JCNA) in 1996 and 1997 and as JCNA President in 1998 and 1999. He represented CJC at many of the Annual General Meetings of JCNA. In 2000, as editor of CJC’s monthly newsletter, Jim received the JCNA award for best magazine format newsletter.
No doubt, however, it was as concours chief judge that he made his greatest contribution to CJC. For over a decade, he brought his high standards for quality and deep knowledge of the JCNA authenticity guides and of the marque in general to his judges’ training classes and to the concours itself. His PowerPoint presentation that he developed for the concours judges’ training sessions benefited not only the CJC judges but others from neighboring clubs. In addition he was always willing to assist at the concours of other clubs, either as a judge or by assisting the chief judge.
At the CJC Concours in 2011, Jim was presented with the first CJC Meritorious Service Award. CJC member and chair of the Meritorious Service Award Jerry Ellison shared that Jim set a high standard for contributions to the club and was highly deserving of this recognition. In fact, it was the desire to recognize Jim’s example of often unheralded, “behind-the-scenes” service to the club that led to the awareness of the need for such an award.
Jim had, in his wife Mimi’s words, a “passion for cars—race cars, sports cars, sexy Italian cars, and especially Jaguar cars” and even his illness did not diminish that passion. Over the years, he provided many articles on a wide variety of automotive matters for the club’s newsletter, The Litter Box. CJC newsletter editor Jerry Cohen recalled that Jim was always willing to contribute to the newsletter and even this summer, as his health was failing, Jim told Jerry that he still had lots of ideas for articles. CJC member Ron Kuligowski remembers walking through the British car show at Brown’s Island in Richmond, VA, one year and listening to Jim as he pointed out features and trouble areas of every car they passed. Ron says that “to me, he was the most intelligent automobile man I have ever had the privilege to know.”
Jim shared his knowledge many times as he advised club members and others about their own cars or potential purchases. He also never hesitated to put this knowledge into action by rolling up his sleeves and crawling under a Jag—his or someone else’s—to get it running again. He simply loved cars.
Jim faced his illness with dignity and courage. For the members of CJC, Jim’s passing will truly leave a void that is not easily filled. We mourn Jim’s passing and our hearts go out to Mimi Morton and their family.