Leap of Faith

It was brave, it was a failure and its fate was etched in Jaguar’s past. 

(c) barrettjaguar.com

Acts of creative reinvention are rarely acknowledged at the time of committal, being far more likely to be misunderstood and derided by those whose expectations were, for a variety of reasons subverted or otherwise denied. Brave or foolish? There is a fine line which separates both polarities, because inevitably, whenever these adjectives are appended to matters of a creative nature, it tends to be connected to its failure.

The X351-series Jaguar was a brave design, attempting to break from the creative straitjacket the over-familiar, and overworked XJ silhouette had evolved into. But now, a decade on from its Summer 2009 debut, and with the curtain soon to fall upon its production career, we can Continue reading “Leap of Faith”

Fate Accompli

The lessons of history are fated to be repeated – endlessly.

(c) luxurycarsworld.com

It was all going to plan. In 2002, production of the X308-series XJ ceased at Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant, after all, an all-new replacement was shortly to come on stream to replace it. However, with the decision taken and implemented, a crisis arose. Jaguar engineers hit significant hurdles in the pressing of the X350 XJ’s aluminium bodyshell, necessitating a significant delay in series production.

As it transpired, it would be another year before the XJ was launched and in the interregnum, Jaguar was absent, not only from its core market, but also its most lucrative. When the 2003 XJ did reach buyers, not only did the car itself meet with a less than rapturous reception, but a significant number of former Jaguar customers had taken their business elsewhere. Many failed to Continue reading “Fate Accompli”

See Them Dance Around The Five-Lamps At Sunrise

The words “Double Six” constitute a very short poem, don’t they? 

But I will anyway…

Even when new, the words Double Six carried a lot of force, a force approximate to the stump-pulling torque of the 12-cylinder power station jammed under the lusciously scultpted bonnet. Since then the heft of the words have only increased. Twelve pot engines are exceedingly rare now and they were not common when this Daimler could Continue reading “See Them Dance Around The Five-Lamps At Sunrise”

Saving Grace – Part Four

Understanding the background to Jaguar’s 1979 annus horriblis.

(c) Jaguar Cars

The Castle Bromwich paint debacle crystallised the manner in which the relationship between Jaguar and its adoptive parent broke down in the years following its absorption into British Leyland; one characterised by unwarranted interference and lack of meaningful communication on one hand and distrust, insubordination and outright defiance on the other.

The roots of this go back to the creation of the car giant in 1968 – a piece of well-meaning, government-led commercial engineering. Much like a certain latterday piece of political engineering currently paralysing Britain’s political establishment, the BLMC experiment was undeliverable, but more fundamentally still, should probably never have been attempted in the first place. Continue reading “Saving Grace – Part Four”

The Shining of Things

It’s the end of a long week and you find us today in a somewhat reflective mood.

(c) Driven to Write

It was a daring gambit on the part of Jaguar’s styling hierarchy to overturn what had become a stagnant design aesthetic, but ten years on, the X351 series XJ has not lost its power to polarise opinion. Certainly, the passage of time has failed to leaven its more visually unsettling aspects – most of which, (as recently discussed on these pages) centre around the D-pillar area, where a good many visual strands converge in a not altogether harmonious fashion.

With all due consideration, it’s quite possible to imagine that Jaguar’s Ian Callum frequently finds himself awake at night scouring his memory to Continue reading “The Shining of Things”

Mystery Car

Today we are having a mystery car competition which is why the headline says “Mystery Car”.

Mysterious?

To make it difficult for almost everyone, I am showing the underside of the car and not the usual detail of the exterior.  Seeing this car up close came as a pleasant surprise. Just after Christmas day I was driving past a venue in south county Dublin known for meetings of members of the marque club.

I saw no classic cars and drove on disappointed. By chance, ten minutes later saw the whole lot of the club parked up in Dun Laoighaire, by the yacht club. I did a rapid U-turn and drove back to give the fleet a closer gander. I had a chance to talk to some of the members as well and if you are by chance reading this please do not Continue reading “Mystery Car”

The Quintessence : (Part Five)

Manufacturing was Jaguar’s fatal weakness. It would become XJ6’s undoing.

Browns Lane production tracks. (c) curbside Classic

Through a combination of genius, skill, misfortune and at times, sheer good luck, the Jaguar XJ6 proved to be precisely what the market realised it wanted. Offering all the glamour and visual allure of the E-Type in a four-door package, customers quickly discovered it fitted their needs very nicely indeed. The trouble was obtaining one.

When Lyons sanctioned the model, he set production targets of a thousand cars a week. This would have amounted to slightly over 50,000 cars per annum, a figure Jaguar wouldn’t meet until the 1990s, and certainly one the XJ-series never came close to meeting – for a whole host of reasons.

The first of these manifested itself as Jaguar struggled to ramp up XJ6 production in the advent of the car’s launch. The XJ bodyshell was built at PSF in Castle Bromwich. Made up of hundreds of small pressings, the XJ shells were designed this way, firstly to Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part Five)”

The Quintessence : (Part One)

William Lyons’ masterpiece. In a series of articles, we celebrate an automotive high watermark as it marks its 50th anniversary.

(c) Jag-lovers.org

Without any doubt at all, the XJ6 is my personal favourite. It comes closer to than any other to what I always had in mind as my ideal car.” Sir William Lyons.

One bright spring morning in 1967, two men strode towards a lock-up garage in the grounds of an imposing Victorian stately home, amid the rolling Warwickshire countryside. As the dew shimmered on the immaculately tended lawns and borders of Wappenbury Hall, Sir William Lyons, Chairman, Chief Executive and spiritus rector regarding all matters aesthetic, led his European Sales Director, John Morgan to where Jaguar’s vitally important new car lay sequestered, in seemingly definitive prototype form.

An autocrat to the tips of his highly polished brogues he may have been, but Lyons nevertheless regularly canvassed the opinions of those he trusted, although having done so, he would Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part One)”

Jury-Rigged?

The 1987 ECOTY winner was something of a DTW stalwart. Even more so however was the fifth placed entrant, one championed by longtime panellist and judge, L.J.K. Setright. 

1987 winner. Image credit: (c) wheelsage

Since its inception in 1964, the European Car of the Year has been an annual award, adjudicated by a panel of leading European motoring journalists. Its stated aim has been to acclaim the most outstanding new car to go on sale within the 12 months preceding the adjudication.

The ECOTY jury currently consists of 60 members, representing 23 European countries. National representation is based on the size and significance of the country’s car market. France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain each Continue reading “Jury-Rigged?”

Jurors the Dawn, Dusk and Midnight Silently Attend

To save this village we must destroy it. And similar logic applies to the next Jaguar XJ. Altered to be saved. 

2017 Jaguar XJ: source

That is the common theme to reports from this, this and this source but not this one***.

Join these dots: It has worked well for Tesla, this big, five-door luxury car idea. Lexus has been able to sell hybrid V-8s since 2008. Land Rover has been competing for the top-drawer luxury market for at least twenty years or more. Five doors and luxury are not strangers to each other. Sales of conventional luxury cars are not what they were, not unless the Panamera nameplate is involved.

In particular, the current XJ whose sales appear to be in the low thousands. Twenty one years ago the XJ sold 10,000 units annually – not stellar, not terrible. Today even those kinds of numbers aren’t sustainable. Those were the dots. On the basis of this kind of background, Jaguar have decided that they simply must Continue reading “Jurors the Dawn, Dusk and Midnight Silently Attend”

Southwards, By Jaguar

A languid road trip to Italy by Jaguar. What could possibly go wrong? 

The combination of Italy, twelve cylinders and pleasant company ought not leave space for prosaic considerations, such as reliability or fuel economy. But worries have a habit of finding their way, nevertheless.

It had been a rather testing day, with little sleep and an unusual amount of stress, right at the end of a particularly challenging summer. The back aches, the tired mind is dulled on one hand, yet feverishly edgy on the other. The three issues at the forefront of any immediate consideration are: a welcoming bed, the board computer’s average MPG calculations and the engine temperature gauge.

As the night is relatively cool and the Autobahn relatively clear, the engine temperature thankfully shows no signs of panic – yet. The average MPG, on the other hand, remains disconcertingly high. And that bed, well, that’s still some 300 kilometres further south. Continue reading “Southwards, By Jaguar”

Theme: Wheels – Going In Circles

Once upon a time, there was a belief that the ideal way to complement the shape of a wheel was… by adding circles. That time was the Eighties.

SONY DSC
The, somewhat notorious, GKN ‘Pepperpot’ Wheel

Perception is a fickle beast. Take Jaguar’s XJ saloon: an undisputed classic to most, yet, as far as its image is concerned, the devil is in the details. In the UK, its elegant silhouette cannot quite strip off the odour of Pub Owner’s Favourite. In Germany, on the other hand, Jaguar still suffers from being perceived as a much more elitist brand than its actual pricing suggests. Which is why running a classic XJ is viewed as an enterprise closer to owning a Rolls-Royce than a relatively run-of-the-mill S-class, in terms of the financial commitment necessary. But that only half explains why an XJ is considered the exclusive domain of silver haired golfing enthusiasts on these shores. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – Going In Circles”

You’re Not Alone, Jaguar

We look closer at European luxury car sales

Large Car Sales Europe
Looking at European sales of the 7 Series, A8, XJ and S Class since 1997 (figures courtesy Left-Lane.com) in chart form is revealing. Of course, each brand’s sales pick up when a new model is released, but the S Class jump with its last three model launches is proportionally huge compared with the others. But as the model becomes established, it sinks to quite similar levels as the A8 and 7 Series. Why is this? One explanation may be the private hire trade. In this a Mercedes is the default choice and, as I heard from one guy who runs his own car, clients don’t like being picked up in a previous model – as soon as the new model becomes available he puts in his order for a car that lasts him 7 years. Continue reading “You’re Not Alone, Jaguar”

Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 3

DTW Looks At The Used XJ Market

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Big secondhand cars are a bargain – until they go wrong. This one owner, 4 year old, dark grey XJ has done just 30,000 miles and could be yours for £19,880, almost 1/3 of its cost new today. Personally I wouldn’t choose the 3.0 litre diesel version, the idiot in me would look further up the scale on Autotrader for an entirely inappropriate Supersport. Otherwise, there’s an 8 year old X350 at just 28,000 miles for just under £13,000. In any case, the XJ looks like it is shaping up to be the wedding car of the next decade.

View It Here.

Tinseltown in the Rain

Reflections on Jaguar’s XJ: DTW’s resident Jaguariste remembers a time when life and advertising met, sniffed one another before hurriedly going their separate ways.

jaguar-xj-2010
Image credit: (c) Jaguar

In 2009, I became somewhat overexcited about a new car launch. Following over 40-years of stylistic diminishing returns, to be presented with a twenty first century interpretation of the Jaguar XJ was exciting beyond rational explanation. Lacking a decent opportunity to Continue reading “Tinseltown in the Rain”

Devourer Of Worlds – The Inexorable Rise Of The S-Class

Mercedes’ new W222 S-Class is decimating its European and Asian rivals. A renaissance for a declining sector or the final gasp? Driven to write investigates.

The All New Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2)

The S-Class is the quintessential Mercedes and the centre of gravity around which the entire Stuttgart-Untertürkheim behemoth pivots. None more so than today’s W222 series; which if current sales are a reliable barometer, is shaping up to be the fastest selling iteration in the model’s history. Continue reading “Devourer Of Worlds – The Inexorable Rise Of The S-Class”