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 slightly in love with their characters, but XJ40 was a car I approached with a certain 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 at the time a surprisingly emphatic conclusion.
Having arrived at this resolution, the account evolved into something of a an impassioned elegy, for the car itself, yes, but also for a type of 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 what can perhaps best be described as soul.
It also resulted in a number of hitherto unexpected outcomes; firstly an audience with Professor Jim Randle, the car’s chief architect, and to elements of this series forming part of a book, published in 2016 to commemorate the car’s 30th anniversary.
So with little further ado or indeed much by way of apology, we present DTW’s XJ40 saga (in two parts) 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. If the story of Jaguar’s last stand captures your imagination, you can access the first part by clicking here. Then simply follow the appended link to the concluding episode.