All I could think when we got a call from Joan Jett’s management offering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Jett’s first car was “Where are we going to put it?”
Finding room for the various vehicles in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s collection – from Johnny Cash’s tour bus to Janis Joplin’s 1965 Porsche 356C Cabriolet – can be a challenge. With a bit of elbow grease and the help of sturdy car dollies, we were able to make room for the big black cat: Joan Jett’s 1983 Jaguar XJ-S H.E. It’s perfect that this was Jett’s first vehicle, as it's long, lean and mean, and – according to Jaguar literature of the day – the fastest production automatic car with a top speed of 155 mph.
Jett purchased the Jaguar before she had a driver’s license and drove it off the lot with only a learner’s permit. She was recording at Kingdom Sound Studio in Syosset, New York, where I Love Rock N' Roll (1981) and Album (1983) were recorded, the day she took possession of the car. Between recording sessions, she took her new car for a joy ride with teenage actor Matt Dillon, who didn’t have a license either.
When we finally placed the Jaguar in the lower lobby of the Museum, I imagined Joan Jett screaming out of the dealership with Matt Dillon riding shotgun. At that point, all I could think was: “Totally badass.”
Learn about Joan Jett and more in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Women Who Rock exhibit!