Cross a Jaguar with a Corvette and you get ...

Paul Hadley doesn't pay attention to the miles logged on the odometer of his 1962 Jaguar Mark II.

"It's the journey that matters," said the 74-year-old Costa Mesa resident. "It's not about the finish line."

Even if Hadley were counting, the vintage vehicle is a pure, strapping youngster when it comes to what's under the hood: a recently installed 2011 Corvette engine.

"Basically, what I did was create a reliable Jaguar," Hadley said. "You could get in this thing and drive it to New York."

An earlier version incorrectly said the Jaguar Mark II was a green British racing vehicle. Its color is British racing green.

It's been a labor of love that's lasted more than two decades. The British racing green vehicle will be crowned with chrome details, upholstery and windows in the coming months.

"I'm extremely slow," Hadley said. "But I don't feel any rush to accomplish anything. It's all about the road, the path, not the finish."

While that journey is approaching the end of the line for the roadster, a second Mark II, dressed in faded white paint and layers of dirt, has yet to leave the proverbial station.

Both vehicles were bought decades ago, each for less than $3,000 — considerably less than what a car enthusiast would give today, Hadley said.

"It just has pretty lines," he said. "This model is still considered to be the high watermark of Jaguar."

However, neither vehicle is for sale.

The cars' value are not measured in dollars, Hadley said.

"It's kept my marriage going," Hadley said. He married Zoe Hadley 50 years ago.

A self-described "gearhead," Hadley tinkers with vehicles in a dimly lit garage — a retreat stocked nearly floor to ceiling with metal tubing, high-powered buffers, wrenches and other tools — tucked into an industrial complex on Placentia Avenue.

It has served as both a therapeutic hobby and a creative outlet.

The garage is also home to a 1970s sunflower-yellow Volkswagen Bug, which Hadley injected with more horsepower than typically found in the hippie-era vehicle.

A 2010 Subaru engine, which flares to life at the first turn of Hadley's key, creates a head-turning rumble that gets noticed at weekly car meet-up groups.

The shiny convertible wins approval from car enthusiasts for its exterior aesthetics too.

Hadley cut a grill into the hood — a double half-moon design that he modeled off of a BMW — to give the powerful engine proper ventilation.

Like the two Jaguars, the Bug represents where Hadley's life has taken him and where he's still headed.

"I think it'll be about another three months," Hadley said of finishing the green Jaguar and then moving on to the next vehicle.

"Of course, that's what I said 20 years ago too."

Twitter: @speters01

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