The new XF Sportbrake has landed, and it’s a Triumph. Or maybe a Rover. It’s difficult to tell nowadays, but it probably doesn’t matter.
People often accuse me of being horrid about the current range of Jaguars and it’s true that I have on occasion been vocally critical of them. ‘Why?’ they plead, as they pin me by the shirtfront against the most convenient stout object, before regaling me with tales of aluminium intensive body structures, handling-biased chassis dynamics and, well that’s about as much as they can muster generally. I’ve said rather a lot on this subject in the past – (‘yes we know’, they chorus) – but just for the purposes of clarity, and to reiterate, my issues with the current crop of JLR’s Jaguar-branded vehicles are as follows: Continue reading “Holding Station – Jaguar XF Sportbrake”
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.
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”
Is this the end of history? Well, it’s about time…
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”
Ever wondered why so few XJ40s remain on the roads? One word: scrappage.
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”
Not satisfied with a year-long treatise on Jaguar’s mid-80s saloon, DTW’s kitty chronicler-at-large goes looking for connections further afield.
In 1988 thoughts at Rover Group finally began to coalesce around a replacement for the original Range Rover. P38A was the result, a car mostly dismissed now as a half-hearted reworking of a true original. Sound familiar? Well, history isn’t just confined to repeating itself at Jaguar, because as you’ll see, similarities between P38A and Jaguar’s XJ40 run surprisingly deep. Allow us to count the ways. Continue reading “Land Rover’s XJ40”
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”
JLR appear to have hit on a genius plan to secure Jaguar’s future. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to involve making Jaguars.
Judging by the frequency he is hauled out to expound on matters of product, anyone would think Jaguar’s design chief was solely responsible for product planning. Perhaps it’s got something to do with his mellow Dumfries lilt, but nowadays its difficult to escape the suspicion JLR’s senior management wheel him out when they have unpalatable Jaguar-related news to deliver – and frankly, is there really any other kind? Continue reading “Give Us A Brake! – Jaguar Jettisons Its Baggage.”
As our December theme chokes on the very last mince pie, we celebrate four decades of disappointment, brought to you by Jaguar.
It’s an emotion depressingly familiar to Jaguar enthusiasts from Burbank to Burnley. From the chaotic post-Lyons era, the catastrophic BL years, the Egan Miracle, the Ford débâcle, to the current underwhelming JLR era. The big cat’s roaring again, the UK press delight in telling us, but is it really? Continue reading “Theme: Disappointment – Feline Gloomy”
Two long running sagas stand out in the automotive world, perennials which still pop up year after year since goodness knows when.
One is that of Alfa Romeo’s struggle to get back on the form it showed in 1965. The other is that of Cadillac’s endless quest for credibility in Europe (and then latterly in the US).
The 2000 Cadillac Seville STS is one of the episodes in Cadillac’s incredibly drawn-out attempts to get away from the form it showed from the 1950s until the mid-1990s, purveyors of ludicrously oversprung land yachts. So, while Alfa Romeo would love some of its 1960s mojo back, Cadillac wants us to Continue reading “Looking Back: 2000 Cadillac Seville STS”
In the second of our postscripts to the XJ40 story, we profile its architect.
“To meet Jim Randle and to talk to him is to go into a quiet and refined world. Randle is a precise, immaculately tailored executive, whose voice is pitched so low you immediately know why an XJ12 is so refined.”(Motor historian, Graham Robson)
When auto journalists profiled Jim Randle, the same adjective just kept cropping up. Following the dapper and avuncular William Heynes and the professorial Bob Knight, Randle was an engineering chief from Jaguar central casting. Quiet spoken, brilliantly clever and refreshingly free of ego, Randle was the engineer’s engineer. Continue reading “The Men Who Made the ’40 – Jim Randle”
We profile a man who did more to define not only the XJ40 concept, but also Jaguar’s overall engineering direction than perhaps any other single individual – Bob Knight CBE.
“The idea that development towards the ultimate should ever stop is anathema to Bob Knight. [He] never failed to use every last available moment to perfect some detail. So it was hardly surprising that without any curb on modifications, any car in Knight’s sphere of control was ever signed off unconditionally.” Andrew Whyte (Auto historian) Continue reading “The Men Who Made the ’40 – Bob Knight”
Research has shown it’s impossible to have too much XJ40 in your diet, so here’s another helping.
If like us, you haven’t sufficiently gorged yourself on all things XJ40, don’t worry; Driven to Write is on hand with this series of short promotional films from the ’40s launch in 1986. Immerse yourself in a world of almost universal moustaches, nascent CAD, grey slip-on loafers and illicit assignations, as XJ40-man jets back to his fancy woman via the Scottish Highlands – (where he indulges in some unexplained wildlife photography), the Canadian wilderness and the Australian outback in what can only be described as the mother of all commutes.
Tragedy, Loss, Redemption? Driven to Write brings its XJ40 epic to a close and asks, can Jaguar ever truly escape its past?
Apparently, Sir John Egan considered cancelling XJ40 in 1984 and starting the programme afresh, claiming he was talked out of it, not only by his management board, but by Sir William Lyons. This remains one of the great unknowns regarding the car, as it remains unclear what such a decision could have realistically achieved. Looking at it objectively, the biggest enemy Jaguar faced, especially in the early stages of the car’s development was resource and quite obviously time. Decisions made to Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40: 1972-1994 – Postscript”
A micropost on the reverberations of certain design themes across decades and between brands and a reflection on their meaning.
One of our readers has asked for further clarification on the meaning of the “CX line” with respect to the 2008 Renault Laguna. The first photo shows the 1976 Citroen CX, designed by Robert Opron. The second photo shows a Series 1 Renault Laguna from 2009. The CX line is partially obscured by the cut-out of the headlamps and, of course, is set within a more complex environment than the corresponding line on the 1976 car.
Phase Four – 1986-1994: The Rhymes of Goodbye. As Henry’s new broom sweeps both baby and bathwater, XJ40 gets a final makeover before it bows out.
Bent on beating General Motors to the punch, it appears the Blue Oval not only overpaid but failed to carry out a sufficiently thorough pre-purchase inspection. As the scale of Jaguar’s issues became clear, budgets and new car programmes were slashed. It didn’t take long for the briefings to start, the US giant unashamedly publicising their findings, seemingly oblivious to the negative PR this would engender – to say nothing about morale. Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 18”
The F-Type is not the quintessential modern Jaguar. This is.
Upon release, Jaguar made lavish claims about the significance of the F-Type. How it would become the fulcrum of the entire Jaguar range. How successive models would reference its styling. This has proved wildly inaccurate because on the basis of the two most recent model launches, Jaguar’s pivot point is not in fact the F-Type. It’s the XF. Continue reading “Jaguar’s North Star Saloon”
Phase Four: 1986-1994 – Keeping up appearances. Jaguar revises XJ40 as the tide turns against it.
With the British motoring press sharpening their quills, Car’s concluding long-term report on an early 3.6 Sovereign sounded a somewhat conciliatory note. “Because it did some things remarkably well, the contrast with the things it did badly was sharper. Mostly it was the detail design that gripped us with despair… It rings of the bells of time running out and shortcut solutions running freely.”
XJ40 history Phase Four: 1986-1994 – The dream unravels. Once the launch hysteria abated, the press began to appraise Jaguar’s new star more critically.
Because the press had given (Sir) John Egan the benefit of the doubt, there was bound to be a backlash at some point. Sure enough, words like dated started to appear with increasing frequency in relation to XJ40’s styling, particularly criticism over the headlight and tail lamp treatments. Moreover, the press were of one mind regarding the instrument display and minor controls: they hated them. Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 15”
Phase four – 1986-1994: An Ecstatic Début. Jaguar’s management bask in the approbation of a valedictory UK press as XJ40 breaks cover at last.
It even made the TV news. On the 8th October 1986, Jaguar finally revealed their long-anticipated XJ6 and the UK media went nuts. There wasn’t this much excitement since the Austin Metro launch, six years previously. Car, devoted 28 editorial pages to the new Jag, describing it as a triumph of engineering against overwhelming odds, which to some extent it was. Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 14”
With X400 a priority Ford Motor Company project, resources were flung at Jaguar’s Whitley engineering centre to expedite development. Extensive use of computer aided design slashed gestation time and prototypes were sent to far-flung outposts from Timmins in the Canadian wilderness to the high speed Nardo circuit in Southern Italy. Continue reading “Trompe Le Mondeo – Jaguar X-Type – part 2”
As the third phase draws to a close we review what Jaguar was offering the public in 1986 and reflect upon some of the wider changes that took place over the intervening 14-year period.
With Jaguar gearing up for their most important launch in generations, the company faced a vastly different landscape to the one that existed when XJ40 was initiated over a decade earlier. In 1972, Britain languished outside the Common Market, although Ted Heath’s government would take the UK into the EEC the following year. 1972 saw Sir William Lyons’ retirement and Jaguar’s complete immersion into BLMC. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 13”
Phase three – 1981-1986: The Legend Grows Old Waiting. As the AJ6 engine breaks cover, the press lose patience.
The autumn of 1983 saw Jaguar offer an AJ6-engined car to the public. The 3.6 litre XJ-S was launched in the familiar coupé bodyshell with the added novelty of a drophead two-seater version. Both were powered by the new AJ6 unit in 225 bhp 24-valve form. The British motoring press devoted pages of copy to the introduction, this being the first all-new Jaguar engine since the V12 of 1971. Expectations were high, given the peerless refinement of the larger-displacement unit. The fact that this engine would become the mainstay power unit for XJ40 only added to its significance. Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 12”
Phase three – 1981-1986: Free at last. Jaguar’s independence becomes a reality as Sir William takes a more active role.
When John Egan made contact with Sir William Lyons in 1981 to sound out the Jaguar founder for the role of company President, he was taken aback by his response. ‘I already am, lad!’, Lyons informed him. Amid the turmoil of the previous eight years everyone appeared to have forgotten. Lyons warmly embraced the new incumbent, believing the Lancastrian was the man to reconstruct Jaguar after the disastrous Ryder years. The two men quickly developed a rapport and Egan became a regular visitor to his Wappenbury Hall home where he would take advice from Jaguar’s venerable founder.
Dial ‘F’ for Fortuitous: Sports models have kept Jaguar in business in the US market for decades, so what’s the matter with their saloons?
At Driven To Write, we are constantly at pains to point out the repetitive nature of Jaguar’s history, much of which has to do with the marque’s frequent lapses into commercial and financial abysses – often of its own making. Continue reading “F-Type To The Rescue”
Phase Three – 1981-1986: Not so Fast Mr. Egan. Was Jaguar really going to launch XJ40 as early as Autumn 1984?
With Jaguar heading for privatisation, internal BL politics once again reared their head. Sir Micheal Edwardes’ successor, Ray Horrocks was opposed to Jaguar’s independence, lobbying to prevent Egan successfully manoeuvring towards BLexit. With Rover at work on an executive saloon to be launched in 1986, Horrocks also moved to ensure there would be no encroachment into Rover’s market. Unsurprisingly, Jaguar’s Chairman had other ideas.
Phase Three – 1981-1986: Trouble at ‘Mill. As John Egan begins extricating Jaguar from BL’s grasp, XJ40’s development programme hits some early setbacks.
As quality improved, Jaguar customers could appreciate the cars’ elegant lines and refined character anew, and sales rose sharply. Despite a continued sales depression in the US market, 21,632 cars were sold worldwide in 1982 – up from 15,640 the previous year. For Egan however, exit from the BL straitjacket became his primary focus. Amongst discussions held was the serious prospect of a tie-up with BMW. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 9”
Phase Three – 1981-1986: Picking Up the Pieces. The early phases of XJ40 development centred around the battles played out to retain Jaguar’s identity. The third phase would be dominated by efforts to remove themselves from BL’s influence entirely.
For John Egan, the first eighteen months at Browns Lane proved something of a high wire act. With morale in tatters, and unfinished cars piling up, Egan initially laboured under the illusion that Jaguar’s problems were marketing rather than production based, a notion he was swiftly disabused of. Realising that quality had to be tackled in order to survive, senior management were press-ganged into a task force to deal with the hundreds of faults identified in quality audits. Egan moved into Sir William’s old office and ensured everyone knew who was in charge. As an insider later observed, he ‘galvanised the place’. But the struggle to stay in business proved touch and go. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 8”
Phase Two – 1976-1980: Egan Takes Knight. As XJ40’s vaults its final hurdles, John Egan arrives at Browns Lane.
Throughout 1979, Sir Michael Edwardes began talking to the man he believed could pull Jaguar out of the abyss. Having previously revived the ailing Unipart business before quitting in the post-Ryder schisms and now at the helm of Massey Ferguson, John Egan had all the right credentials. The only problem was convincing him to take the job. Central to Edwardes’ desire to recruit Egan was a mounting belief that he had made a misjudgement in Bob Knight’s appointment.
Phase Two – 1975-1980: Knight Falls. The disastrous 1979 launch of Series III almost sinks Jaguar entirely, indirectly precipitating Bob Knight’s downfall.
1978 saw a brief reprieve in Jaguar’s fortunes. Under Sir Michael Edwardes, interference eased sufficiently to allow a consensus to emerge on XJ40’s style. Customer research backed the assertion that a strong family resemblance was required. The revitalised styling of the Series III also cast a mighty shadow, because its revisions combined to create a sleeker, more modern looking car. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 6”
Phase Two – 1976-1980: Speed of Darkness. As Bob Knight continues his search for an acceptable style, a new sheriff enters town.
Throughout 1976, what few resources available to XJ40 concentrated mostly upon the ongoing struggle to establish an acceptable style. During the spring, Bertone and Ital Design submitted revised proposals, which ended up mouldering under dust sheets. Few avenues were left unexplored – for instance, having run tests on the effects of weight and drag reduction, engineers found that flush side glazing provided only a modest reduction in drag. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 5”
Phase Two – 1976-1980: Fortress Jaguar. With engineering the last beacon of resistance, XJ40 becomes its talisman.
1975 saw the broken remains of Jaguar in lockdown. Bob Knight’s policy of civil disobedience stemmed the tide of assimilation to some extent, but BL’s operating committees remained undeterred. Like most of the industry, they believed the collapse of luxury car sales in the post-oil shock era would be permanent. The prevailing view was that Jaguar were producing dinosaurs. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 4”
Phase One – 1972-1975: Jaguar Year Zero. The Autumn of 1974 marked a point when the sky fell in at Jaguar.
Sir Don Ryder’s report into BLMC’s collapse was published in April 1975 and its findings were greeted with horror at Browns Lane. Ryder recommended British Leyland should operate as a ‘single integrated car business’. As such, marque identities would be subsumed into centralised Leyland business units. Jaguar would cease to exist, with its plants now managed by separate Leyland Car divisions. The effects of rationalisation would go to ludicrous extremes, but with the UK government picking up the bill, there was little room for sentimentality. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 3”
Phase One – 1972-1975: A Question of Style. Jaguar knew how XJ40 should look, but BLMC management had other ideas.
In October 1973, the complete XJ40 styling prototype was presented to BLMC’s Donald Stokes and John Barber. The car’s styling had evolved noticeably within the intervening twelve months, but the XJ-S-inspired lineage remained clear. The major differences lay in the height and shape of the canopy, the daylight openings – which now featured a six-light treatment – and the addition of an XJ-S-inspired lineal shoulder line. Overall, it presented a cohesive mid-1970’s projection of Jaguar saloon style. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 2”
Phase One – 1972-1975: A New Jag Generation. We examine the landscape within Jaguar as the initial XJ40 concept coalesced.
XJ40 underwent several distinct phases in its path to production, the first of which began with the 1968 launch of the XJ saloon, a car upon whose shoulders Jaguar would unknowingly place the next 18 years of its existence. The XJ was a superb car, its excellence the sum of several factors. The careful honing of proven hardware, a gifted development team, Jaguar’s V12 engine, and the appliance of stylistic genius. It would be the pinnacle of Sir William Lyons’ vision but as a new decade dawned, it was necessary to plan for its successor.
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?
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.
Driven to Write re-assesses the stylistic genesis of Jaguar’s much-maligned XJ-S
In September 1975 the newly nationalised British Leyland conglomerate 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 is difficult to imagine, to say nothing of the chosen setting. The venue was a calculated statement of control, British Leyland ensuring Jaguar’s beleaguered management and workforce knew exactly who was in charge. Continue reading “XJ-S: Reconvening the Committee – (Part 1)”