Jaguar’s XJ6 saloon was a landmark car. Its marketing did it justice.
Collecting brochures is, in the grander scheme of things, a rather sad pastime. One goes to great lengths to get one’s hands onto something that was supposed to have, at best, a short-term effect and be forgotten immediately afterwards.
Do people who buy a car usually keep the brochures? No, they don’t, even though they played a role in the process of parting with significant sums of cash in exchange for some mere consumer good.
Being on the hunt for old brochures is therefore similar to chasing after other people’s breadcrumbs. Which makes it all the more lamentable that I had such a fine time trying to complete my own collection of late 1960s/early ’70s Jaguar brochures.
It had all started when I stumbled across a brochure (though probably more of a press kit) presenting Jaguar’s then-new V12 engine in great detail. I simply adored the almost witty writing, the typography and layout, not to mention the almost surreal design of its cover and backside.
With my appetite thus whetted, I began looking for brochures of the Jaguar XJ4 on eBay and at classic car shows. Luckily, I was soon rewarded by coming across this specimen of the breed, the original XJ6’s sales brochure.
Again, the writing was effortlessly classy, but the layout and typography (the same as Vogue’s) were even better! Being a quadringual publication, the challenging task of keeping it legible was carried out with some panache by using a different kind of paper, in a different size, for the copy, and larger sheets for the photos.
Although anything but humble, the brochure manages to exude an air of confidence, rather than boastfulness. This is also helped by the fact that the gentleman whose mind this was unquestionably supposed to tickle wasn’t represented in the photos in some blunt fashion. Instead, the photography focuses entirely on the lady in the passenger seat.
This is how it’s done.
Unlike today’s deserted CGI landscapes/yacht clubs/modernist bungalow driveways, the XJ6 was part of the real world, albeit a slightly heightened version of it, in which the gentleman kept his fags visibly on the centre console – and where the lady demonstrated the Jaguar’s sublime ride quality by nonchalantly painting her fingernails while on the move.
In an age before branded accessories became the norm, the only sensible thing for Jaguar’s marketing folks appeared to be to demonstrate the XJ’s load capacity by filling it to the brim with Gucci bags. As you do.
It is striking to see the similarities between the car and how it was marketed. In both cases, the style and content betrayed an astonishing level of confidence. Even though the XJ’s development was anything but straightforward and trouble-free, the resultant car would prove to be the defining Jaguar. Safe in the knowledge that the car didn’t need any kind of undue embellishment, this very brochure doesn’t distract from the product, but illustrates it in stylised, but still utterly appropriate a fashion.
Now, where can I get that luggage set?