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”

Better Without Make Up

Alfa Romeo have revealed the standard edition Stelvio soft-roader CUV raised hatch product.

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Based purely on a careful glance of the publicity photos, the car radiates much less of a displeasing character than the full-on range-toppers that have been shown so far.

Much the same applies to the Alfa Romeo Giulia which, in its top-spec, looks slightly grotesque. In its standard form it’s nice enough. Turning to other brands, the AMG versions of Mercedes cars all overcook it. I would wager that if the AMG running gear was transferred to the body-shell of a base model the vehicle would even perform slightly better.

Continue reading “Better Without Make Up”

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”

Everything You Know Is Wrong

While the mainstream UK motoring press likes to pretend it tells it like it is, they often don´t.

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Dented and unloved. 2002 Nissan QX 3.0

The 1995 Nissan QX served as a butt of jokes at Car magazine who reminded us ironically that “it exists“. Autocar took a more charitable view, summing it up as a superbly built revelation on the road. Apart from this this, the QX is quite forgotten. Not by me for whom these kinds of neglected cars are some kind of mild obsession. I suppose it’s the fact the press told us not to bother that makes me want to know what it is that we must ignore.  Continue reading “Everything You Know Is Wrong”

Highlights of Last Night

Long, thin lights make interesting reflections on car bodies. A malfunctioning restaurant sign made this Volvo panel especially fascinating.

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These reflections show the contours of the front wing of a Volvo S60 from a sign. It had two strips running horizontally, one of which turned on and off at intervals. Image one shows the wing with one light illuminated. The second shows it with both strips illuminated.
Continue reading “Highlights of Last Night”

Theme: Places – Oxford, Cambridge, Blenheim, Hereford, Somerset

Indeed. Quite a list of destinations for the person interested in cars named after UK places.

1961 Morris Oxford: source
1961 Morris Oxford: source

And they don’t do that anymore, do they? Yet the Americans are still happily driving around in Aspens, Tahoes, Malibus and Colorados. Seat, to my knowledge still sell an Ibiza, Ateca and Leon. The French and Germans are less willing to use their place names for their products, are they not? Continue reading “Theme: Places – Oxford, Cambridge, Blenheim, Hereford, Somerset”

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”

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”

The world’s Oddest Head Restraints

The head-restraints in the Rover 3500 always struck me as overkill, the ones in the back I mean.

1968 Rover 3500 rear headrestraint.
1968 Rover 3500 rear head-restraint.

Sorry about the reflections in the photo. 80% of that head restraint is not adding comfort or restraint. Why did they make them so big? We wrote about the 3500 before. Continue reading “The world’s Oddest Head Restraints”

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.

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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”

Costly Cars, Big Losses

Perplexing this: the market for very costly cars has been booming and Aston Martin have only racked up losses.

2015 Aston Martin DBX: source
2015 Aston Martin DBX: source

Automotive News report that ” a pre-tax loss of £127.9 million ($172.03 million) in 2015, the fifth consecutive year the company has failed to make a profit, as the number of cars it sold fell and as it invests in expansion”. It seems everyone likes Aston Martin but not enough people want to buy them. Hasn’t it always been like this? Continue reading “Costly Cars, Big Losses”

Theme: Materials – Convince Me

We have staked out our positions on the use of wood and mock wood inside cars. One day this will be resolved with a water pistols duel at dawn. And then a nice breakfast.

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Until then here are some after-market products to give your car a little extra visual warmth and some OEM work to show how it should be done. This really is not good for my argument, is it?

Continue reading “Theme: Materials – Convince Me”

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”

What a month it has been!!

…as they like to say in the world of automotive print journalism.

Nissan Autech Zagato
Nissan Autech Zagato: wikipedia.org

We covered a lot of ground in our theme of the month, Japan, and the response from our clique of readers has been heartening.  Most of what I read this month from our readers and contributors was new to me, as was the material I waded through when researching my own items.

Dealing with the Japan theme first, Sean Patrick and others handled the origins of Japan´s post-war development. The general theme is that Japan watched closely what Europe did but its selection of references showed its special set of values and interests. We dealt with notable examples of Japanese concept car design, production design. and the state of the product ranges. Under the production cars, the kei car phenomenon came under scrutiny from several angles such as this and this along with a few apparently randomly chosen examples of neglected classics and unloved daily drivers. If I have learned anything it´s that Europe and America have looked to Continue reading “What a month it has been!!”

Give us a Brake! – Jaguar Jettisons its Baggage.

JLR have hit on a genius plan to secure Jaguar’s future. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to involve making Jaguars. 

Here's what you can have - get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely. Image:designmagazin.cz
Here’s what you can have – get ’em while they’re hot, they’re lovely. Image:designmagazin.cz

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.”

An Uncomfortable Truth: Jaguar XF 2.2d Premium Luxury

Your correspondent gets into a bit of a flap over ‘our‘ Jag’s ride quality. Or lack thereof.

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Is it possible for one’s palate to remain untainted by daily servings of braised swan? It’s bound to have an effect over the long term; after all, too much of a good thing will skew anyone’s critical faculties. For instance it’s unlikely any mainstream motor journalist working today would place a premium on ride comfort above outright handling and roadholding, if only because there probably aren’t any old enough to remember when such qualities were not only valued, but were what set luxury cars apart from the mass-market hordes. Continue reading “An Uncomfortable Truth: Jaguar XF 2.2d Premium Luxury”

Volvo: Scandinavian Without the Drama

Volvo are re-emerging from the Northern wilderness and look set to disrupt the automotive establishment by offering something increasingly novel: a genuine alternative.

Image: speedcarz
The new face of Volvo. Image: speedcarz

Recently I was asked to cite which manufacturer impressed most over the past twelve months and to be honest, I didn’t hesitate. It had to be Volvo. Having been a brand that previously earned my respect but little else, the sole remaining Swedish marque appears to be in the process of reinventing itself as perhaps the most viable alternative to the hegemony of the luxury car establishment, with a style and appeal that stands coolly apart from the self-aggrandizement of the mainstream prestige marques and their acolytes. Continue reading “Volvo: Scandinavian Without the Drama”

Sommer´s Automobile Museum Part 1

Recently I promised to write more about my visit to the Sommer´s Automobile Museum in Nærum, outside Copenhagen. Today I´ll introduce the museum and the first car that drew my fascinated gaze.

Ole Sommer´s Car Museum, Næerum, Denmark
Ole Sommer´s Automobile Museum, Nærum, Denmark

You can read more about the museum´s history here.  My brief overview is that the collection dates back to the 50s but was gathered together under one roof in 1980. Since then it has moved to a dedicated building near Ole Sommer´s former dealership. The Sommer collection is made up of a mix of Swedish, Italian and British cars, reflecting Sommer´s commercial activities as well as personal interests. The Italian section includes Lancias, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos. Continue reading “Sommer´s Automobile Museum Part 1”

Theme: Disappointment – Feline Gloomy

As our December theme chokes on the very last mince pie, we celebrate four decades of disappointment, brought to you by Jaguar.

Romance is dead. Image via carnewsmodel
Romance is dead. Image via carnewsmodel

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”

Signal and noise, separated

What a year it has been. With reference to Shannon (1948), we try to sort out signal from noise.

2015 BMW i8 - the future looks a bit like this: autoblog.com
2015 BMW i8 – the future looks a bit like this: autoblog.com

It seems like only eight months and two weeks since I last took out my typewriter from its leather case to write one of these annual reviews. Last year I ironically titled it  A review of the automotive year: VW 1.4 TSi Engine Problems. The airbag problem eventually destroyed Takata. GM is still working with lawyers over faulty ignitions. Like Jarndyce and Jarndyce that case will roll on until lawyers have spent all the money.

This year VW actually did have serious engine problems and that story occupied a lot of news space for the remainder of the autumn months. At the same time two other trends (signal, if you will) kept recurring. One was the steady rise of electric, hybrid and PHEV vehicles. The other involved attempts by the governments of the world to look as if they wanted to Continue reading “Signal and noise, separated”

Dark Satanic Mill: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

Jaguar’s power units have entered legend. This month we ask whether the XF’s engine and powertrain are cut from similar cloth?

Image via jomomag
Image via jomomag

Try as I might, I’ve yet to satisfactorally reconcile the concept of a compression ignition Jaguar. But commercial realities make for expedient bedfellows and the Ford/PSA-developed 2179 cc 16 valve diesel unit powering our XF has been responsible for the marque’s growing acceptance in the vital company user-chooser market in the UK. Commercial success notwithstanding, there’ll be few obituaries now it’s been consigned to history by JLR’s new generation of ‘Ingenium’ engines. Like most of its breed, it’s an agricultural sounding device; peak power of 188 bhp and a torque figure of 332 lbs/ft at 2000 rpm going some way to mitigate against its more obvious aural deficiencies. Continue reading “Dark Satanic Mill: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Sign of the Cross

It’s been confirmed the next Opel Senator will be a crossover – as indeed it appears will everything else. Are we approaching a tipping point?

Inspiration for the forthcoming Opel CUV? Image via autoblog
The new face of Opel. Image via autoblog

When GM showed the Avenir concept earlier this year, many viewed it as a sign Buick was serious about re-entering the full-sized luxury saloon market with something along more traditional lines. For enthusiasts here in Europe it prompted speculation as to the potential for a similarly proportioned model – a latter day Opel Senator if you will. But while it’s possible such an idea was at least considered, it’s equally likely it wasn’t given a great deal of airtime. Especially given the recent announcement stating GM Europe is preparing three new crossover models over the next couple of years – one of which is set become Opel’s next Euro flagship. Continue reading “Sign of the Cross”

What drives Jaguar?

Last year we had a monthly theme on engines. I would like to return to this topic with the aim of understanding Jaguar´s engine line-up. 

2015 Jaguar XJ frolicking in the snows of Warwickshire: jaguar.co.uk
2015 Jaguar XJ frolicking in the snows of Warwickshire: jaguar.co.uk

Jaguar has five basic models. Those are the XE, XF and XJ (saloons), F-Type and F-Pace. Is that a good naming system, I idly wonder. F-Pace seems not to fit in. It makes the F in F-Type somewhat meaningless as there was no E-Pace or D-Pace. I digress.

Starting with the XE, we read here that it has a petrol four, a diesel four and a petrol V6. The petrol four pot engines are available in two flavours, 200 and 240 PS. The diesels come as 163 and 180 PS. A 3.0 litre supercharged petrol V6 offers 340 PS and is only available as an automatic. So, that´s three engines for the XE.  Continue reading “What drives Jaguar?”

Lyons, Sayer, Lawson, Callum… And Then?

Few car manufacturers are as closely associated with their styling director as Jaguar is. Ian Callum, the current incumbent, is acting as both the premier brand ambassador, as well as in his main capacity of aesthetic pontiff. But even the prominent Scot will have to hand over reigns eventually. The question is: to whom?

Ian Callum himself, Photo (c) iancallum.com
Ian Callum himself, Photo (c) iancallum.com

Continue reading “Lyons, Sayer, Lawson, Callum… And Then?”

Theme : Romance – Introduction

The Editor swoons as he considers this month’s theme

The Summer 1950 by Alan Fearnley
The Summer 1950 by Alan Fearnley

Aaah, Romance! A sunny day, a full tank of petrol, the roof down, a good companion, a fine picnic in the boot, a clear road …..Well, that may be some people’s idea of romance and the motor car, but how often does that happen? Yet, the car remains, for many people, a hugely romantic device. If not, why would so many of us spend so much money in such an indiscriminating way on something that, inevitably, will let us down in one way or another? Really, I need not explain the romantic pull of the car since, if it were not so, it is unlikely you would be visiting this site. Continue reading “Theme : Romance – Introduction”

The Jaguar XJ-S as dinner time conversation

In September I mentioned an article about a road trip from Coventry to Munich in the Jaguar XJ-S and I said I would write a bit more about it. Finally.

1976 Jaguar XJ-S: uncredited photographer, Motor Sport , April 1976
1976 Jaguar XJ-S: uncredited photographer, Motor Sport , April 1976

Motor Sport were curious as to whether Jaguar´s claims to have made a car that would frighten Mercedes and Ferrari were valid. They initially tested the car (Oct ´75) in the Cotswolds which is not really a place to stretch the legs of a sporting grand tourer. A better test was to take it 2,435 miles on a trip that led to Munich.

The Motor Sport people addressed two points in their article. One, quantitative. With three people (did they really put someone in the back?), luggage and 20 gallons of Super they achieved 150.1 miles per hour. “We know of no other car in the world which would Continue reading “The Jaguar XJ-S as dinner time conversation”

Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation

In a revised piece from the earliest days of DTW we look at the UK’s first true economy car. But we make an even grander claim for it.

Austin 7 Box Saloon
Austin 7 Box Saloon

My French teacher at grammar school, Mr Roberts, had a small collection of Austin 7s from the 1920s, which he alternated using as transport to work – back then, that sort of car collection was practical, even on a teacher’s starter salary. I think that he considered me a bit of a prat (and history has certainly vindicated him on some levels) so, sensing this, I reciprocated with contempt for his collection of little, old and, at the time, very cheap cars. In hindsight, I might have had a more rewarding time discussing the niceties of the Ulster, Ruby, etc with him and he might have decided that I had some redeeming features. I deeply regret my glib teenage contempt, though it was entirely my loss. He was right, I was wrong.

Continue reading “Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation”

Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

Over the past couple of months I’ve skirted the peripheries of the XF, but now it’s time to address the core of the XF – its road behaviour.

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Lets begin with a positive. For what can be described as a fairly mundane executive saloon, the Jaguar’s steering response is from the top drawer. In my experience I’ve only driven one other car fitted with a power-assisted rack (which wasn’t a Citroen) that had nicer steering than the XF. That was a Lotus Evora.  Continue reading “Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Theme: Wheels – The GKN Kent Alloy

Some wheels come to define an era. 

The GKN 'Kent' alloy wheel. Image via Hemmings
The GKN ‘Kent’ alloy wheel. Image via Hemmings

For any marque enthusiast, this wheel design is as evocative and redolent of its era as wires were during the 1960s. To me at least, they just scream Jaguar. I’ve habitually known them as the GKN Kent alloy; standard equipment on the original launch-spec Jaguar XJ-S and optional on XJ saloons over the ensuing decade and a half. The final XJ saloon that left the Browns Lane production line in 1992 was a Series 3 Daimler Double Six on ‘Kents‘. No other wheel design suited the car as well. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – The GKN Kent Alloy”

Welcome to the Machine: 1975 Jaguar XJ-S

“10th September 1975: A black day for Modena, Stuttgart and Milan”: So went the advertising copy. It didn’t quite work out like that, but 40 years on, the jury’s finally in on the XJ-S.

Image via Jaguar Heritage
Image: Jaguar Heritage

On this day 40 years ago, the Jaguar XJ-S was launched to the press, and while knives were mostly sheathed, the sense of bewilderment was palpable. For the entirety of its career, the car’s appearance was derided and attacked by the automotive media, certain they were as right as Jaguar were wrong. Continue reading “Welcome to the Machine: 1975 Jaguar XJ-S”

The Lyon of Beauty: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

This month your correspondent gets himself in a lather over the XF’s styling.

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I’ve always considered the XF to be a handsome car, even if I had assumed it was something of a stopgap design; a stepping stone from the failed nostalgia of the S-Type to something more aesthetically robust. But confronted with the knowledge it now embodies the true north of Jaguar saloon style has forced me to re-engage with the car’s appearance in a way I might otherwise have sidestepped. Continue reading “The Lyon of Beauty: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Nice Kitty? Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so how does ‘our’ XF fare?

IMG_2327

Among the tenets of luxury car motoring is the notion that everything you touch and feel should feel expensive and well engineered; that the manufacturer has gone that extra bit further to make you feel more deserving, more special.

Approaching the XF for the first time however, the first thing you grasp is the door handle, only to be greeted by a flimsy plastic arm that wouldn’t be out of place on a car many times cheaper. Continue reading “Nice Kitty? Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Extended Test: 2013 Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

A Jag? With my reputation?

'Our' XF, yesterday.
‘Our’ XF, yesterday.

As anyone familiar with the site will know by now, Jaguars are something of a recurrent theme with me. A few months ago I was offered the extended use of a 2013 Jaguar XF; something I tried to accept with jaded equanimity, however the unseemly haste with which I bit the owner’s arm off probably betrayed my true feelings. Continue reading “Extended Test: 2013 Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Theme : Secondhand – Do Not Resuscitate?

As we approach the end of this month’s theme, we ask whether there is life beyond secondhand

Old XJ-S B

You may not have reached that age yet (though I think I did at around 16) but one day you look in the mirror and ask yourself “how did I get to look like this”? The physical proof of the passing of time seems totally out of proportion with the short period you feel you have spent on the Earth.

This appeared near to where I live in South-West London last weekend. It’s sitting in the street, the passenger window wide open to the elements. Has it been stolen and dumped or has someone local bought it, with the prospect of restoration, only to find that the electric windows go down, but not up? Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Do Not Resuscitate?”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 18

Phase Four – 1986-1994: The Rhymes of Goodbye. Ford’s new broom sweeps baby and bathwater, while XJ40 gets a significant makeover before it too bows out.

Twilight of a champion?
Best for last? The 1993 XJ12. Image: automobilesdeluxetv

Flushed with the euphoria of beating General Motors to the punch, it seems Ford not only overpaid but failed to carry out a thorough pre-purchase inspection. As the scale of Jaguar’s problems 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.  Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 18”

Theme: Secondhand – Rooting in the parts bins

Car advertising (like almost all advertising) commonly emphasises the new and the improved. There is not a single advert drawing attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle second lives of components intended for one car but which lived on in another…and another…and another…

The whole design takes its starting point from the  door handles: www.spannerhead.com
The whole design takes its starting point from the door handles: http://www.spannerhead.com

Last week we discussed the afterlife of the Buick  aluminium 215 engine. Such a re-use is not what I have in mind in terms of rooting around the parts bins. Rover had the decency to rework the engine –endlessly – to make it work so that by the time they had stopped fiddling in 2004 there was little a Buick engineer from 1957 might recognise other than the porosity problems and flagrant thirst.

Some other items of componentry went from their donor car to subsequent applications unchanged. The famous ones include Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – Rooting in the parts bins”

Twilight of A Champion Part Three – The Next Leap Forward

jaguar_xj.above

Where now for the big Jaguar?

Over the course of this series we’ve made the assertion that when it comes to full-sized Jaguars, the market is at best apathetic. Throughout Jaguar’s history you’ll find the strongest selling and best-loved cars have been compact saloons and sports models. Even the original XJ began life a relatively close coupled machine, coming into being out of the perceived necessity for a larger, four-seater E-Type variant and the commercial failure of the full-sized Mark Ten. Up to the demise of the X308-XJ series in 2002, it remained broadly faithful to this template – low-slung, snug – somewhat decadent. Continue reading “Twilight of A Champion Part Three – The Next Leap Forward”

Twilight of A Champion – The Decline of the Jaguar XJ

With each passing year the Jaguar XJ becomes less relevant. Why has the world fallen out of love with Jaguar’s big saloon? Driventowrite investigates.

Gratuitous hero shot of X351 ahoy! The remarkably unsuccessful XJ. Image via topnewsupercars
Gratuitous hero shot of the current XJ. Remarkably unsuccessful. Image via topnewsupercars

As the world’s least influential Jaguar commentator, I’ve been pointing out Jaguar’s ‘Groundhog Day’ tendencies for some time now. Back in 2009, I drew comparison between the newly announced (X351-series) XJ and its distant forebear, the 1961 Mark Ten saloon; the nub of my argument being the new model could not be judged against any prior XJ model, but rather it should be viewed through the prism of its unloved sixties progenitor. Some five years on, it pains me to conclude the current XJ is cleaving to the Mark Ten template more faithfully than anticipated; easily as disheartening a commercial failure as Jaguar’s former flagship. Continue reading “Twilight of A Champion – The Decline of the Jaguar XJ”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 17

Phase Four: 1986-1994 – The Legend Stumbles. As Jaguar’s woes multiply, Ford senses its moment and strikes.

XJ40rearqtr

Jaguar’s rehabilitation was dubbed the Egan Miracle by a UK press charmed by a compelling narrative and the Lancastrian’s charisma. But by 1989, Sir John’s halo had slipped and the knives were out.
Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 17”

The XF – Abridged

We’ve identified the problem with the XF’s rear styling. Yes, all by ourselves.

The XF and its fussy tail-lamp treatment. Image via carscoops
A less fussy tail-lamp treatment would have served the XF better. Image via carscoops

Jaguar’s Series-2 XF was revealed this week and the dust has settled to some extent over its appearance; the consensus being it’s extremely cautious. What’s apparent is the bulk of stylistic contention lies aft and in particular, the tail-lamp treatment. While not as grating as those affixed to the junior level XE, they could be so much nicer. In fact, buried within the press pack, Jaguar have provided an image of just how nice they could have been. The difference is rather striking is it not? Continue reading “The XF – Abridged”

Jaguar’s North Star Saloon

The F-Type is not the quintessential modern Jaguar. This is.

The 2016 Jaguar XF - image via performancedrive
The 2016 Jaguar XF – image via performancedrive

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”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 16

Phase Four: 1986-1994 – Keeping up appearances. Jaguar revises XJ40 as the tide turns against it. 

Image via productioncars
1988 and XJ40’s fortunes become inextricably bound up with Jaguar’s wobbly financials. Image: productioncars

With the British motoring press sharpening their quills, Car‘s concluding long-term report on an early 3.6 Sovereign sounded a more conciliatory note, stating;  “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.”

Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 16”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 15

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.

XJ40brochure-2

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”

Tinseltown in the Rain – Reflections on Jaguar’s XJ

Driven to write’s resident Jaguariste remembers a more innocent time when life and advertising met, sniffed one another before hurriedly going their separate ways

jaguar-xj-2010

In 2009, I became a little over-excited about a car launch. Following a good 40-years of diminished return styling, to be presented with a 21st century interpretation of the Jaguar XJ saloon was exciting beyond all current comprehension.  Continue reading “Tinseltown in the Rain – Reflections on Jaguar’s XJ”

Lovely, lovely numbers

Opinions are fragile things, aren´t they? Left alone and sheltered from the cold gusts of fact, they thrive but a few small bits of data can destroy them in an instant, like hail shredding the most tender of blossoms.

This is the only image of thsi car I could find that was not black-ish or white-ish.
This is the only image of this car I could find that was not black-ish or white-ish.

The ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturer´s Association) released data for car sales in 2014 recently. Automotive News made a bit of a meal of the matter of who would take next-to-top spot  Would it be Renault, Opel or Ford who will take the number two position in the future? At the moment Ford holds this honour, with just under a million cars sold. GM, perhaps because one or two models are below par, sold a bit less again. But that part of the story, the cars-as-sports story, didn´t really interest me so much as Continue reading “Lovely, lovely numbers”

Peter Stevens on concept cars

Here is Peter Stevens on the concept car and here is his second article on the subject. I think we can say we covered the topic more thoroughly in October but it nice to see what a professional thinks.

2011 Jaguar B99 concept.
2011 Jaguar B99 concept: why didn´t they make this?

It´s nice to see that Peter Stevens agrees with my analysis of the Ford Probe concept car:

“Ford Motor Company’s European arm presented a concept vehicle, the Ford Probe III, at the Frankfurt show in 1981 for totally different reasons. Its new mid-size family car, the Sierra, was to be launched in 1982. It was a fairly avant-garde design that, within Ford, suddenly caused the senior management to Continue reading “Peter Stevens on concept cars”