Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before

We’re talking about Jaguar today. I know, again…

Image: Driven to Write

Last month, I felt the need to talk to you about XE, which given the circumstances, made for some pretty uncomfortable reading. But not content with establishing History Repeating© as Jaguar’s mood-music and brand leitmotif, your ‘World’s Least Influential’ Jaguar critic (or WLIJC for short) is drilling deeper still by repeating himself thematically. Not I might add because he necessarily wants to, but because he finds it cathartic and more to the point, his editor told him to. Continue reading “Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before”

Lifting the Veil

Last week, JLR unveiled Velar, the most ambitious Range Rover variant yet. But Driven to Write asks, is there a cuckoo in the nest?

Image: The Car Connection
Image: The Car Connection

As the dust sheets were lifted off their new mid-liner, Land Rover CCO Gerry (IGMG) McGovern informed journalists, Velar is “the most car-like Range Rover we’ve done so far”. It also seems likely to become the crossover SUV that will convert customers who have so far proven immune to the crossover SUV contagion. Continue reading “Lifting the Veil”

Theme: Brochures – From Countryside Manor to Vodkaloungeland: The Jaguar XJ Through The Ages

Being the quintessential British stalwart car, the Jaguar XJ serves as a poignant illustration of what constituted ‘the good life’ through the ages. 

dsc_0022
Almost five decades of British luxury in flat shape

Germany has the Golf and S-class, Britain’s got the Jaguar XJ. A car that has been part of the automotive landscape for decades, all the while being adapted (to differing levels to success) to changes in tastes and demographic.

So what do the different generations of XJ brochures tell us about the car itself, its creators and the people it was supposed to appeal to? Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – From Countryside Manor to Vodkaloungeland: The Jaguar XJ Through The Ages”

Theme: Brochures – When the Kitty Was Purring

Jaguar’s XJ6 saloon was a landmark car. Its marketing did it justice.

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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.

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – When the Kitty Was Purring”

We Need to Talk About XE

As Jaguar 2016 sales hit unprecedented heights, we take an unflinching look at XE’s school report. History appears to be a particularly weak subject.

Image: Motor Trend
Image: Motor Trend

On the face of things, JLR’s once troubled Jaguar brand appears to be be on the rise at last. Following massive investments in new product lines, underpinned by an all-new aluminium intensive modular platform and new diesel engines, the marque has posted global sales of 148,730 vehicles last year, up 77% on 2015 figures. And while brand Jaguar accounts for only 25.4% of JLR’s total volume, it represents the bulk of the overall percentage gain for the business as a whole for 2016. This growth has been driven by new offerings in sectors of the market previously unrepresented by the brand and offer an encouraging picture not only for a nameplate that has consistently underperformed but also for JLR management’s policies. But once you begin to drill below the headline figures, some troubling questions arise. Continue reading “We Need to Talk About XE”

A Jaguar for Sunday

V12. I had to check that. Really. V12. 

Any care to date this car? 1983?
Any care to date this car? 1983?

Some astonishing things get taken for granted. Mere existence justifies some wild ideas, which a priori, you’d not expect. Maybe it’s because Jaguars aren’t my core area of expertise I felt like I needed to be certain. Surely, I thought, I must be making a mistake. V12s are too complex and huge. V8 it must be… but that seems wrong, too American.  Continue reading “A Jaguar for Sunday”

Something Rotten In Denmark: Two-Tone X-Type

It goes well, is comfortable and has a pleasing interior. But alas, one thing somewhat spoils this car. 

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2001 Jaguar X-type: source

There are three ways a used car can be a bit rubbish. We usually see them (1) edging into decrepitude and (2) we can see them as bad as their maker intended. In this little item we see Category 3…

Customisation. I assume that this is a customer-led effort: a Jaguar X-type with a two-tone paint job. ‘Angry of Brown’s Lane’ will write in to say it the car is obviously a special edition to mark the 20th anniversary of Jaguar’s decision to move back to metric measurements again**.  Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: Two-Tone X-Type”

Coventry via Turin – 1966 Jaguar 3.8 FT by Bertone

Second guessing Sir William on styling matters rarely succeeded. This Bertone concept was no exception.

Image: carstyling.ru
Image: carstyling.ru

For decades, innumerable coachbuilders tried their hand at re-imagining Jaguars with varying degrees of success. Frankly, even the best of them failed to match, never mind exceed an on-form William Lyons. After all, Jaguar’s founder and stylistic torchbearer possessed a personal vision coupled with an uncanny eye for line which not even the finest Italian carrozzeria could rival. Only Lyons really knew how to shape Jaguars – a matter which became embarrassingly clear in the aftermath of his passing. Continue reading “Coventry via Turin – 1966 Jaguar 3.8 FT by Bertone”

Saving Grace – 1966 Jaguar 420

The story behind the Jaguar 420 may be more interesting than the car itself, but this may belie its significance.

Image: Hemmings
Hello Kitty. Image: Hemmings

Often portrayed as a decade of unbroken success, the 1960’s were troubled years at Browns Lane. The halo provided by the E-Type masked faultlines elsewhere – especially in the area of new product development. Jaguar’s 1961 Mark Ten saloon, their most ambitious and expensive model programme yet had proven a commercial failure. But by mid decade, matters were equally worrying for its compact saloon stablemate in their most crucial export market. Continue reading “Saving Grace – 1966 Jaguar 420”

Electric Shock – Jaguar I-Pace

Is this the end of history? Well, it’s about time…

Image: Wired
Image: Wired

It’s the old story. You wait ages and then along comes two positive Jaguar news stories at once. First was the announcement that over the three months to September, global Jaguar sales rose 84%. It’s unclear at this point whether that translates into anything of significance, but yesterday’s announcement of the I-Pace concept at the Los Angeles motor show was a cat of an altogether different stripe. I’ll be honest with you, I-Pace is a shock, but not for the reasons you might imagine. Continue reading “Electric Shock – Jaguar I-Pace”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Four

In the last of this series, Jim Randle describes a Jag with a jinx, XJ40’s presentation to the press and his principles for rear suspension design.

Jim Randle. Image: Auto Didakt
Jim Randle. Image: ©Auto Didakt

During the Egan-era of independence, senior management were tasked to spend time at Jaguar dealers, selling cars, meeting customers and seeing the issues first hand. Randle was a keen adherent to this policy, holding the record for the most cars sold in one evening. I wondered if he identified himself or chose to remain incognito. Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Four”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part Two

In this second part of our interview with Jonathan Partridge, XJ40’s foibles come under the spotlight.

Image: Jonathan Partridge/Jaguar Heritage
Image: ©Jonathan Partridge/Jaguar Heritage

If Partridge views XJ40 with a degree of ambivalence today, it’s partly that his team dealt with the bulk of negative customer feedback firsthand, and on early cars, it didn’t always make for very edifying reading.  “A lot of features were good, you know: corrosion protection, anti-lock braking yaw control, the rear suspension, [but] then the whole electrical thing with low current earth line switching and all the micro-computers was ambitious and at the end of the day I guess they over-stretched themselves. Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part Two”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Three

In part three, Jim Randle speaks candidly about what was possibly the XJ40’s most controversial aspect – its advanced electronics system.

Image: Auto-didakt.com
Image: ©Auto-didakt.com

It’s been suggested in the past that Jaguar were over-ambitious in attempting to introduce electronic controls into XJ40 when this technology was still in its infancy, but Jim Randle points out a key precedent. Preparing XJ-S prototypes in the early 1970’s, he produced a carburettor and an electronically controlled version for comparison purposes, making the following discovery. Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Three”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part One

As we continue our XJ40 commemorations, we examine the car through the prism of sales and marketing with Jaguar Heritage’s Jonathan Partridge.

Image: Jaguar Heritage
Image: ©Jonathan Partridge/Jaguar Heritage

There’s more than one dimension to the back story of any car. Up to now, we’ve concentrated primarily on the ’40 from an engineering perspective, but today, we examine the car’s legacy with Jonathan Partridge, former Product Strategy Manager who over a lengthy career at Jaguar, oversaw the marketing strategy for a host of saloon programmes, culminating with the 2007 XF. He is currently Vehicle Collection & Communication Manager with Jaguar Heritage at its Gaydon nervecentre. Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part One”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Two

In part two, Jim Randle talks about the challenges facing Jaguar’s styling team, and skewers a few more holy orders along the way.

Image: automotorundsport.de
Image: automotorundsport.de

Possibly the toughest hurdle Jim Randle and his engineering team faced with XJ40 was finding an acceptable style for the car. The twin imperatives of reducing complexity and drag inducing features while retaining a recognisable Jaguar silhouette led to years of indecision and delay, but who was actually responsible for the eventual car’s style? Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Two”

Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car

OK, so this relates to a TV series translated from a collection of detective books, but I’m hoping readers will allow me a little latitude.

morse-jag
If that were my car, I would not be happy with even John Thaw placing his foot on the number plate.

For a moment there, this opening was like a game of charades for the ‘visually impaired’ …

I think most people know that (Chief) Inspector Morse was originally the owner and driver of a Lancia, not a Jaguar Mk2 (or was that really a Daimler?). Having read most of the books by Colin Dexter many years ago on the back of viewing a few of the TV episodes (pre-kids, one had time to waste like that), a few thoughts were stimulated by the changes wrought by the TV production company in its adaptations from the books. Continue reading “Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car”

Exquisite Corpses

Ever wondered why so few XJ40s remain on the roads? One word: scrappage.

Image: The author
Image: The author

I stumbled across this place on the outskirts of Romney Marsh in 2014; the largest and most depressing collection of Jaguars I’ve ever witnessed. And while hundreds of decrepit Jags of every stripe were littered about the place, there were entire compounds full of condemned XJ40’s – part (it appears) of the 2009 government stimulus package aimed at propping up the motor trade. Continue reading “Exquisite Corpses”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part One

To mark the 30th anniversary of XJ40’s launch, we speak exclusively to former Jaguar Engineering Director, Jim Randle.

Image: taketotheroad.co.uk
Image: taketotheroad.co.uk

If the XJ40-series’ legacy represents a series of lasts, then chief amongst them is that it remains arguably the final mainstream British series production car to embody the single-minded vision of one man. Because if a car could embody the personality and mentality of its creator, then XJ40 is Jim Randle, whose stamp is all over its conceptual and engineering design. Recently we spoke exclusively with the father of the ’40 to re-evaluate the last purebred Jaguar saloon.  Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part One”

Thirty Times ’40 – 1986 Jaguar XJ6

With due consideration, your correspondent gets off the fence.

The last Jaguar? Image: Favcars
Image: Favcars

“A reputation, once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” (Joseph Hall)

Praised to the skies by an adulatory UK motoring press at its launch thirty years ago, pilloried mercilessly in subsequent years and even to this day, only grudgingly accepted even by marque loyalists, the Jaguar XJ40’s reputation remains a matter of (often heated) debate.  Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – 1986 Jaguar XJ6”

Year of the Cat – 1996 Jaguar XK8

Ford’s takeover of Jaguar lacked credibility, and the XK needed to change perceptions. Fortunately, it did – just.

Image: australiancar-reviews
Image: australiancar-reviews

The 1996 XK8 came at a crucial time for Jaguar, having been through the torrid post-Ford takeover period when Browns Lane was haemorrhaging around $2m a day. The luxury car maker desperately needed something to generate some excitement, following the launch of the X300 saloon two years previously; a car that while popular with traditional Jaguar customers, hardly signified a company looking confidently towards the future. Continue reading “Year of the Cat – 1996 Jaguar XK8”

Entering the Plastic Age

Jaguar used to be renowned for their warm and inviting cabins. No longer. 

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Not bad – for a Nissan. Photo (c)gtautoperformance.com

Jaguar’s current stream of new models is testament to the enormous sums being spent on reinvigorating the brand – unfortunately, the new car’s interiors make every effort to appear as though they were lowest on the list of priorities. A new family of combustion engines doesn’t come cheap. Neither does an all-new aluminium platform. But is that enough to explain quite why the cabins of Jaguar’s new-from-scratch XE, XF and F-pace models are so blatantly disappointing? Continue reading “Entering the Plastic Age”

The Luxury Gap – 2003 Jaguar XJ

Ford’s retro adventure with Jaguar met its maker with the advent of the 2003 X350-series. 

2003 Jaguar X350 XJ. Image: Favcars
2003 Jaguar X350-series XJ. Image: Favcars

Had Sir William Lyons been working in the current era, it’s very likely he’d have continued to plough his own stylistic furrow. Many have speculated on how Jaguar’s founder would have evolved the ‘Lyons line’, but in his wake, all we have is a subsequent body of work that amounts to studied guesswork on the part of the old master’s successors. The quality of Jaguar’s stylistic output in recent decades can best be described as patchy; certainly few would argue that anything produced in recent decades matches that of Lyons at his apex.

Continue reading “The Luxury Gap – 2003 Jaguar XJ”

A Photoseries For Sunday: 1973-1979 Daimler Vanden Plas

This set is courtesy of Mick, our Leinster correspondent. Let us glory in its bronzey-goldness.

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The license plate indicates it is an import from the UK, first registered there and brought to the ROI at a later date. One way of looking at these cars is to see them as a poorer-man’s Rolls-Royce. Or as a hyper-Brougham version of an already very Brougham car. I don’t think these cars thrive in Ireland due to the rain but the huge tyres and supple suspension are ideal. I think anyone considering a luxury car for use in Ireland ought to insist on the highest sidewalls possible but generally people shoe their cars as if they lived in Frankfurt.

History Falls

Ghosts of Browns Lane.

2005_0101JagMuseum0120
Image: The author

Today, Jaguar’s Heritage collection is in safer hands but in the closing months of 2011 the future looked a good deal more uncertain. We take a look back at Jaguar’s former museum prior to its demolition.

You can tell a good deal about the ethos of a car company by how it views its past. Enzo Ferrari was notorious for his callous attitude to last season’s race car; many simply destroyed, since in his view the only good car was the next one. Such views were not uncommon amidst the grand marques, resulting in vast sums being spent buying back significant cars once they realised exactly what a well curated museum would do for their image. So while it remains fairly unlikely that Ssangyong has seen fit to lay up a pristine Rexton for posterity, anyone with an image to project and a heritage to exploit either already has or really ought to. Continue reading “History Falls”

Ghost of X-Types Past

Jaguar’s decision not to give the XE an estate variant is either an expedient commercial decision or another case of History Repeating©. Which is it?

Remind you of anything? Image:jaguar-france.blogspot
Remind you of anything? Image:jaguar-france.blogspot

I’m sorry if this comes across as being repetitive, but like a man with a sore tooth, I seem incapable of leaving this subject alone. Anyway, I think it’s been well established that repetition is very much the leitmotif when it comes to the subject of Jaguar. Certainly Ian Callum’s statement last month that the luxury car maker had no plans to introduce estate variants elicited a certain amount of hand-wringing round these parts, not because they have traditionally formed part of the marque’s so called DNA, but more that by ruling out additional body styles, Jaguar is to all intents and purposes hobbling itself. Continue reading “Ghost of X-Types Past”

Micropost: Jaguar E-type 4.2

The colour is original and is very attractive. 

Jaguar E-type 4.2
Jaguar E-type 4.2

What caught my attention is the very sharp corners of the shutlines: bonnet and door. Would rounded ones as on aeroplanes not have provided greater strength? The owner of this rather grand vehicle runs an XM as a daily driver, as far as I know.

History Repeating – XJ40: 1972-1994 – Postscript

Tragedy, Loss, Redemption? Driventowrite brings its XJ40 epic to a close and wonders, can Jaguar ever escape its past?

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XJ40 perfected? The 1994 Jaguar’s – last of the line. Image: thecaptainschair

Latterly, Sir John Egan alleged he considered cancelling XJ40 in 1984 and starting afresh, claiming he was talked out of it. Certainly, given the budgetary constraints and shifting parameters that beset the car there was some logic to this but in truth XJ40 probably was the best Jaguar could have achieved. Looking at it objectively, they probably hadn’t the resources to go it alone in a sector of the market where excellence in all areas was taken for granted. This was after all, a business decimated by a generation of neglect, having to relearn as it went.

Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40: 1972-1994 – Postscript”

History Repeating – The Tragedy of Jaguar’s XJ40

A new Jerusalem, or nothing but the same old story? In this series, we examine the car’s turbulent backstory and ask, was this the last Jaguar?

Jaguar XJ40_04 (1)
Image: Jaguar Heritage

Taken as a single model line, the Jaguar XJ40 appears likely to remain the best-selling XJ series ever.  Billed as the Jag without tears; a high-tech culmination of an unprecedented level of proving in some of the world’s most hostile environments, XJ40 represented a fresh beginning for an embattled marque. Launched in the aftermath of Jaguar’s escape from the restrictive influence of its British Leyland parent, XJ40’s 22-year journey encapsulates the most tumultuous period in its history and vividly symbolises the poisonous relationship between Jaguar management and their paymasters at BL. Yet for years now the car has been widely regarded with derision.

Continue reading “History Repeating – The Tragedy of Jaguar’s XJ40”

XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee (Part 5)

We convene the committee one final time to examine the defamation of the XJ-S.

Image via Jaguar Heritage
Image: Jaguar Heritage

Widely seen as the most outspoken and irreverent of the UK’s automotive titles, Car was the journal most automotive journalists and commentators looked to and emulated. It’s evident the ‘committee-design’ assertion emanated from this source, which illustrates that journalists are as prone to suggestion as anyone. The press subsequently appropriated this assertion which over time morphed into established fact. Car editor Mel Nichols made his views clear in October 1975, stating; Continue reading “XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee (Part 5)”

XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee – (Part 4)

We take a more in-depth look at the Jaguar XJ-S’ styling. 

Image: forum-miata
Image: forum-miata

The world fell in love with the E-Type, but what many fail to realise is that by the early ’70s, Jaguar’s sports car icon was virtually unmarketable; the curves everyone loved in 1961 now hopelessly out of fashion. Yet when Jaguar announced the XJ-S as lineal successor, traditionalists had apoplexy on the spot. But was it really that much of a departure?

Continue reading “XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee – (Part 4)”

Goodbye, X150! (2006-2014)

Why you will be missed… 

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  • Because you were a first glimmer of hope for any creditable Jaguar enthusiast after a great many, very dark years.
  • Because your crisp, Ian Callum style lines – albeit still fairly conservatively executed – were nothing short of a relief after years and years of doughy blobs.
  • Because you always were a decent drive.
  • Because you were the first Jaguar in ages that was more appealing than what the German competition had to offer.
  • Because a competent facelift kept you from appearing like some undignified pensioner (one lesson you learned from your grandfather, the E-type, who was kept on life support far too long).
  • Because you still are more appealing than any modern Mercedes SL.
  • Because your high performance derivatives served so well as testbeds for the F-type.
  • Because you hereby prove that you won’t outstay your welcome.
  • Because you were the car that gave me hope that all was not lost for Jaguar when I saw you for the first time in the aluminium, at the 2005 IAA.

XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee (Part 3)

The XJ-S marked a new direction for Jaguar style. We examine its birth.

XJ27 takes shape in Jaguar's Styling studio - image via ARonline/Jaguar Cars
XJ27 takes shape in Jaguar’s Styling studio circa 1970. Image: ARonline

Early in 1969, work on XJ27 began in earnest. Due to BLMC’s straitened finances, funding was limited to utilising a modified version of the XJ12 saloon substructure and component set. Structurally and mechanically then, there would be few surprises. Stylistically however, Sayer had something far more radical in mind.  Continue reading “XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee (Part 3)”

XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee (Part 2)

Two figures defined XJ-S’ aesthetics: we examine their methods.

jaguar xjs back end
Driven to Write is unable to locate the source of this image

Sir William Lyons not only founded Jaguar Cars but personally supervised all matters of styling. His approach involved working (alongside skilled technicians) from full-sized wooden and metal styling ‘bucks’ which once reviewed in natural light he would have modified until he arrived at a conclusion he was satisfied with. Continue reading “XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee (Part 2)”

XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee – (Part 1)

Re-assessing the stylistic genesis of Jaguar’s maligned XJ-S

Jaguar-XJS-Red-Strip-1280x960%5B3%5D
Image: The Telegraph

In September 1975 the newly nationalised British Leyland celebrated the Jaguar XJ-S’ launch at Longbridge, the traditional home of its volume car division. A worse time to launch a 150-mph grand turismo it’s difficult to imagine, to say nothing of the chosen setting. The venue was a calculated statement of control; the newly nationalised BL ensuring Jaguar’s workforce knew exactly who was in running things now the gloves were off. Continue reading “XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee – (Part 1)”

1968 Jaguar XJ-6 road test: “A load of old Baltics” (Part 3)

Archie Vicar continues touring from London to Latvia in Jaguar´s new XJ-6. His mission, to test this important new saloon and to recover his hand-made shoes left behind on a previous jaunt.

1968 Jaguar XJ-6 at a scenic location in Latvia
1968 Jaguar XJ-6 at a scenic location in Latvia

Photography by Douglas Land-Windermere

From “Private Motor Car Owner” (pages 34-39,  page 109, page 116, December, 1968)

Day Four
Getting into Latvia was a breeze. We presented our passports and sacrificed a few cherished boxes of Craven “A” cigarettes and we were in. Even the sight of the new Jaguar, in De Luxe trim and virtually rust free, didn´t make the unshaven brute at the border blink. It seemed like we would sail through under the dusty hem of the Iron Curtain.

But then we spent 9 hours waiting at a road-block deep in the middle of nowhere.

Dashing through fields the size of Rutland while caning the XJ´s 6-pot engine (cc/170 in³) I appreciated the civil ride (courtesy of the telescopic dampers). Then I noticed what looked like a telephone box. I knew something was skew-whiff since they don´t have ‘phones in Latvia. It was a check-point. Dropping my fag into the deep-pile lambswool carpet, I gripped the controls and stamped on the stop pedal for all I was worth. An alarmed-looking sentry sprang from the wooden crate and noticed a hundred yards of dust rising behind the tail of Browns Lane´s barge. Such was the violence of the braking that Continue reading “1968 Jaguar XJ-6 road test: “A load of old Baltics” (Part 3)”