Reflections on Jaguar’s XJ: DTW’s resident Jaguariste remembers a time when life and advertising met, sniffed one another before hurriedly going their separate ways.
In 2009, I became somewhat overexcited about a new car launch. Following over 40-years of stylistic diminishing returns, to be presented with a twenty first century interpretation of the Jaguar XJ was exciting beyond rational explanation. Lacking a decent opportunity to properly appraise the car, the announcement that the chic Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge would play host to the car was all the catnip I required.
A blustery October evening made for less than ideal circumstances, but nevertheless as I cycled from work through darkening Camden streets across London’s West End to Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge, I felt a sense of anticipation – trepidation even? A light drizzle began to fall.
An apparition behind softly lit glass, the Jaguar hove into view in the evening gloom. Finally, the XJ in the flesh. Well almost. The view from the pavement wasn’t exactly ideal – the car positioned slightly above street level, which we know is not X351’s finest angle. Also the lighting within the showroom was decidedly on the moody side, so some of the finer points of the styling were lost – (Particularly those controversial rear quarter panels).
Nevertheless, I felt I knew every curve, every crease intimately, having spent so many hours poring over disguised images, attempting to contextualise what was in the end a thoroughly unexpected styling execution. Suddenly however, peering through the glass, I had a memory, a flashback, a sense of life imitating advertising. Allow me to explain.
A old Jaguar print advertisement from 1978 featured a young schoolboy staring through the window of a showroom at a contemporary XJ saloon. His hand presses against the glass as he stares longingly towards the object of his desire. The tagline simply reads; “Someday, someday”.
As I stood outside the window that evening, my grimy road-bike in hand, LED lights glimmering faintly, while the rain gently pattered about me and uninterested commuters trudged tubewards, I realised that after all these years I had become the middle aged version of that boy, still standing outside in the rain… I began to feel self-conscious, ever so slightly foolish.
“Knightsbridge was never really my style anyway” I reflected as I clipped back on to my road bike and wheeled homewards. The rain worsened as I neared Brixton. I was thoroughly soaked through by the time I got in…
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This piece dates from October 2009 and originally appeared in Car Magazine Online.