Continuing our Longer Read series with DTW’s XJ40 opus magnum.
This I’m forced to admit is somewhat off the meta scale: A repeat of a repeat of a series, entitled History Repeating.
The lengthiest of our Longer Reads, this piece began taking form as far back as 2009. Over that (close to) ten year period, it has probably been subject to nearly as many changes and midnight-oil revisions as the car itself during its even more protracted and strife-ridden gestation.
Writers occasionally speak of falling in love with their characters; certainly XJ40 was a car I approached with a degree of ambivalence, swayed by a post-production and media-led reading of failure and dashed hopes. However, through a combination of archaeology, study and reasoned evaluation, I found myself reaching what was for me at the time a surprisingly emphatic resolution.
Having arrived at this conclusion, the account evolved into something of a an impassioned elegy, for the car itself, yes, but also for the type of broadly accessible, engineer-led motor car which has become largely-extinct. A opportunity furthermore, to honour the people who not only created it, but imbued both it and all true Jaguars with qualities which were somewhat unique and sadly absent from the modern cars bearing the storied name.
It also resulted in a number of hitherto unexpected outcomes; firstly an audience with Professor Jim Randle, the car’s architect, and furthermore to elements of this series forming part of a book, published in 2016 to commemorate XJ40’s 30th anniversary.
So with little further ado or indeed much by way of apology, I present DTW’s XJ40 saga which debuts a new opening chapter, and a revised text, to reflect more recent insights. I must warn you however that it does run to nearly 14,000 words, so I’d recommend finding a comfortable chair to perch (and perhaps a wee dram). If the story of Jaguar’s last stand captures your imagination, you can continue reading by clicking here.