Sunday, October 3, 2010

British Car Show Today on Our Town Green

Part 1: Jaguar

There was a British car show on our town green today. I was surprised at the number of cars there, at least 35. Most were in concours condition, or as close to concours as drivers get, I didn't see any trailers there. The Best-in-Show was the Wedgewood Blue XK120 Roadster, above.

The flawless interior and the classic DOHC inline 6 engine of this XK120. For more information about this famed and long-lived powerplant, click here.

An equally beautiful and desirable XK150 Coupe. I have Road & Track magazines from the 1950s and early 1960s, and Jaguar's full-page ads featured cars just like this, complete with wide whites. Elegant beyond belief, if you ask me! Grrrrrrr!

One of my personal favorites, the XJ12C, a mid '70s model, complete with period vinyl roof and pillarless construction. This car's silver metallic paint, black roof and red leather interior is just the way I'd like mine. The powerful 5.3 liter 12 cylinder engine would be icing on the cake!

Late '50s Jaguar Mark 1, in 3.4 Liter guise I believe. For more information, click here. These were the smaller of the two Jag saloons during that period, and eventually was developed into the Mark 2 of the early-mid sixties, one of the best sports saloons of the time.

"The greatest crumpet catcher of all time." 
—Henry N. Manny III, late, great auto journalist.

"The dumb blonde of sports cars." 
—Phil Hill, late, great race driver and author.

What else can be said about the Jaguar XK-E, or E Type, as it was also known that hasn't been written in a million magazine and newspaper articles? Whether it was an early 3.8 with glass covered headlights and recalcitrant Moss gearbox, or a late V12 with its awkward extended wheelbase, this car IS Jaguar pure and simple, the car that made Jaguar a household name throughout the world.

The Future is Here
The local Jaguar dealer brought three brand new models, the XK Coupe, the XF sport sedan, and the drop-dead gorgeous XJ sedan, in black above. This car has had its share of criticism since it was introduced last year, for its avant-garde C pillar treatment and its completely futuristic and nontraditional interior, but I'm here to say, that as soon as I saw it in person I was in love. Granted, in its black metallic livery, the black C pillar trim was nearly invisible, and the odd shut/cutline of the rear trunk almost disappeared, but the more I walked around it, the more I "got" the design. It's the future, with just the slightest nod to the past. It's forward-thinking, it's sleek, it looks like a million bucks going a million miles an hour, while sitting still, and I want one, I want one, I WANT ONE, lol. I'm completely sold on the C pillar and would take a long-wheelbase version in white, just to fully showcase the modern detailing. The design of this XJ is a gigantic F*** You to the established luxury car makers like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus, with their too staid, or too forced styling these days. It's every bit as shocking and gorgeous as the XK-E was in 1961 if you ask me. Grace, Space and Pace incarnate. Now all I need is a spare $100K or so. Considering I turned in my spare change last week to buy groceries, I won't have to wait long, right? 
: )

Next: Part 2, The rest of the field of MGs, Triumphs, Austin-Healeys, and a few others.


  1. I sort of a bit stuck with the XJ design, if you happen to ask me. I like the bold move and forward thinking with the funky interior combinations and LED readouts, but I just find something missing.For a car that has a quartz moving clock on the center console, I would prefer real gauge readout and not their own interpretation of a Lexus. The black C Pillars do look interesting and elegant against the flats slopping trunk but I wish the tail-lamps were a bit more 3 demential that just being merely flat. As far as the head lamps, they also seem kind of flat and inexpensive looking. Last, I think the grille is way to large and not constructed of the same materials as a Mercedes. There is also a gap between the hood and the grille which is a really big mistake especially for that price point.
    In Short, the overall shape is very nice but the materials seriously need to be upgraded to Jag standards.

  2. Well, I'm totally with Casey on this one. I think the XJ is fantastic and I'd have one in a blink if I had 100-ish K to blow on a big new saloon. Unless I drove past a Maserati Quattroporte on the way to the Jag dealership, but even then...
    I first saw the XJ about nine months ago on a freezing cold day at the Jaguar-Land Rover proving ground at Gaydon, south of Coventry, where I was working on a shoot of E-type V12 vs Xj-S vs XK8 for Classic Cars magazine. Two guys (one with a clipboard) were sitting in an XJ doing massive, smoking donuts on a round patch of concrete. I have no idea what they were testing for, but it sounded marvellous and any luxo-barge that could do that with such little apparent effort had me sold instantly.
    Sorry to rabbit on, but the looks, both interior and exterior, are exactly what Jag should be doing for the following excellent reason: When British manufacturers set out to be bold, shocking, dashing, brave or just generally cool, they made great cars and built a strong heritage: XK120, E-type, original XJ saloon, Rover P4, P5 and especially P6, pre-war Riley Nine and 12/4, especially Kestrel, post-war Riley RM series and so on. When they played up to the perceived image of pipe, slippers and walnut dashboard, the results were so embarrassingly uninteresting that the whole industry was beaten to a pulp by the German or Japanese competition: Jaguar S-type and X-type, every Rover built after about 1985 and going back away, every Riley built after about 1955.

    Phew. Sorry to clog your blog, old man!

  3. Good Day All from an absent and busy Annie. I would take a Jaguar if it came with it's own mechanic, or have they improved over the years???

    Anyway I spent Friday at the Strassenfest listening to the neat music from lederhosen clad musicians. It was great but I forgot to take my camera.

    Saturday I got together for a wonderful and full day in the country. This time I had my camera and have shared some of the day's adventure with you on my new blog post. Yes, as you will see WINE and CARS can go together.

  4. Annie: I'd say that Jaguar is probably as reliable these days as any car. They really improved quite a bit under Ford's ownership, and now India's Tata corporation seems to be more than willing to keep that improvement going.

    Nigel:"Clog away" any time you wish1 : )

    Woody: Time will tell I suppose if they're reliable and hold up well. I'd say any company has an uphill struggle against the BMW/Mercedes/Leuxs juggernaut these days. Badges seem so much more important than what they're attached to these days.

  5. The XKs are among my (many) favorites! The 120 OTS is clearly the most beautiful but I'd be very happy with a 150 OTS -- it has disc brakes all around, a lot more room and weatherproofing and the most power of the series. A teacher in my grammar school had a 140 Drophead and I was quite smitten but any one of them would be welcome, if I had a driveway!

    In a previous life, I briefly had an XJ12 lwb sedan. It was heaven to drive but had numerous electrical problems. I remember blowing fuses if I tried to put down more than one window at a time!

    Nigel mentions a number of my favorite British cars -- the P4 Rover being my most favorite. We took pictures of a Rover 90 that was parked outside of a Volvo dealer in Wiscasset Maine when we were there in August. It was what I believe they called Primrose in color with reddish leather and appeared to be in excellent shape. I understand it was influenced by the 47 Studebaker. The RM Rileys are special too. I have Dinky Toys of a P4 Cyclops and a Riley RM, as well as many other British cars of the 50s.

    I saw the new XJ at the New York Auto Show and it's pretty spectacular. I've seen a couple on the street as well, and it really gets your attention. While I'm a real traditionalist (the Mark VII is my favorite big sedan of the 50s), I think Jaguar is on the right track.

    Casey, you mentioned the Jaguar ads. Do you remember one that showed a field with one of each of the models offered at the time and people standing next to them? The Mark VII or VIII has a rich older couple standing by it, the XK140 OTS had an airline pilot, the XK140 Coupe has an artsy couple (I think -- I've seen the ad somewhere in the last couple of years). It's really cool!

    Thanks for all the Jaguar pics. I look forward to part 2 -- I hope you've got a Rover and a Riley!

    Paul, NYC

  6. I learned something today! I've never seen OTS before, now I know it's Open Two Seater! I've seen FHC and DHC, but now I know OTS. Thanks for spurring me to find out!

    Don't get too excited about Part 2 photos. The field didn't have any Rileys or Rovers, just Triumphs, MGS. a Morris, an Austin Mini and a Roller and a Bentley. Hopefully I'll get the photos cropped/edited tomorrow.

    And now I'll have to go through all of my old R&Ts to find that ad! I remember ones with pretty women and Jaguars (the big cats) but not the one in a field. Stay tuned for that too!

  7. I don't think the ad I'm talking about was in a car magazine. I think it was actually in a New Yorker or some other upscale magazine. And I think it was probably from 1957 or 58 because the sportscars were XK140s and I think the big sedan was a Mark VIII. What was I doing reading the New Yorker in 1957????? I guess you're not the only one who was an odd child!

    Actually, I think I saw it in a book I bought a few years back about the advertising and promotion of Jaguar in America, starting with Max Hoffman. I got it from Barnes & Noble's bargain bin. I'll look when I get home and if I find it, I'll take to work, scan it and email it to you.

    Paul, NYC

  8. that would be great! I'm still going to look through my old R&Ts. Jaguar used to buy a full page ad every month, usually the back cover or inside back cover, and they were quite artistic and well done.

    For anyone that lives or works near a REAL magazine store, you should check out the British car magazine Nigel mentioned, Classic Cars. It's expensive, but the production values are amazing, great photos and great paper, and the writing is top notch, of course! I used to buy it every month when I was in New Haven almost daily, but there is no store in my town that carries anything like a British car magazine now. I have all the ones from back then though, they're great reference materials, like a Collectible Automobiles.

  9. Casey, you probably already know all about car company's and their logos, but in case you haven't seen this one

    Hope you are enjoying your day.