A Jaguar State of Mind

After our Sunday evening church service, I stood by the glass doors looking out at the parking lot.  Seeing the lights of cars pulling away in the darkness, reminded me of the days when we still owned the Jaguar XJ-S.  That was a special car.  Except for the fact that it was truly a two-seater (with enough rear seating for maybe two Chinchillas) I wouldn’t mind owning one again.*  One of the primary reasons was the beautiful design of the car.  There’s just something about a Jaguar that you can’t get over.  People still think so today. Take it from an automotive writer who drove the new super-charged Jaguar XF for an extended test drive.

“We were continually surprised by how much attention the car attracted, even after nine months on the road. “I came out of the dry cleaner’s to find a man standing just gazing at it,” said one staffer. “He asked me what model it was and kept repeating, ‘Beautiful, just beautiful,’ and actually stood there and watched as I pulled away.” The design simply draws people in, and the Jaguar name is still magical to many folks.”

Natalie Neff, “Treading Lightly Again: Shedding winter tires brings our Jag back to life,” AUTOWEEK, November 15, 2009, p. 30.

2010-jaguar-xf

*I conveniently left out the high cost of repairs, the amount of oil the V12 consumed, the collapsed driver’s seat, and a number of other unimportant things. You know what they say … “Love is blind.”

Andy’s Coolest Cars

For it’s 60th anniversary, Motor Trend recently came out with its 60 coolest cars of the last 60 years.  Not surprisingly, two of them were Jaguars (the Mark II and the E-type).  But I must admit that a few cars were missing that would have made my own list.  But then again, who am I?

Well, let me answer that questions.  I’m a car salesman who has owned and driven a number of interesting cars over the years.  And I’m a blogger who happens to have time to write an article about his own coolest cars.  So, let Motor Trend have their own ideas … and I’ll express my own.

1. 1982 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE

This is my favorite car of all that I’ve owned or might have a chance to ever own.  It’s one of those designs that some people love and others can’t stand to see.  But to me, it’s the ultimate car in my budget range.  The beautiful sloping hood and raised headlights along with the V-12 engine make this a car that won’t easily be forgotten.

jag-family

2. 1988 SAAB 900 Turbo 5 speed

After owning two other Classic 900s, I found this one on eBay in the Washington DC area.  The price was right and the performance exhilarating.  What a difference the upgraded suspension and turbo charger made over the model S.  And having found an SPG box in the junk yard also bumped up the horse power and throttle response.  It was quite the car because of it’s classic Swedish styling, powerful kick, comfortable leather seats, and nicely upholstered plaid door inserts.

88saab900t

3. 2008 Volvo C30 2.0 6 speed

Yes, the Volvo S60R should probably be in this spot, but there’s something about the styling of the C30 that bumped the R down a notch.  With a 227 hp turbo charged 5 cylinder mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox, this was one fun car to drive.  I may never own one, but I’ll take every chance to drive one!

08c30206spd

4. 1980 Chevy Monza

I was a poor college student working for the Tradin’ Times in Columbus, Ohio, when a college chum gave this car to me. At the time, it was the coolest car I had ever owned. It had cloth bucket seats, a leaky automatic 3 speed, and the iron duke 2.5 liter four cylinder. It’s nothing compared to the cars above, but at the time, it was “pretty cool.”

80chevymonza

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Walkinshaw’s XJ-S

From what I recall, Tom Walkinshaw was the man responsible for the R series Jaguars. These were beefed up version of the XJ6 and XJ-S. In the following video, you can see what Walkinshaw was able to do with a hopped up XJ-S. Watch for the “up on two wheels” corner. I was holding the sides of my seat just watching it. Yikes!

Pegged!

I drive the speed limit. My dad drilled the importance of that into my head while my mom prayed that I would become a good driver. Their influence and the accident that totalled my first car caused me to see the importance of obeying traffic laws. But as helpful as speed limits are, there are times when you have to do what you have to do. Let me explain.

Tuesday evening I was driving toward home after work. The weather was nice and the car was running well. I was actually cruising at about 5 mph below the posted 60 mph when it happened. I found myself trapped between a closely knit line of cars attempting to enter the freeway and another car pulling up beside me in the fast lane. This is usually not a problem as those entering the freeway are required to yield to those already in the lane. But this wasn’t happening. The cars kept coming closer and closer. I was beginning to get worried and then it happened. I instinctively stomped on the accelerator.

Before I continue the story, you need to know that our Jaguar XJ-S has a three speed GM 400 automatic transmission coupled to a 295 hp V12 engine. Depressing the acclerator at 55 mph kicks the car into first gear. You can probably imagine the crazy feeling, rapid acceleration, and loud exhaust note that accompanies that action. In what seemed like a second, the car leaped forward and the speedometer pegged at 85/90 mph. Here again, you need to realize that at the time my car was built most US speedometers registered no higher than 85 mph. Somebody said it was required by law.(?) I’ve never pegged a speedometer in my life, but now that I have, I can see why so many people are addicted to speeding. Wow!

Lake Jaguar

Even though I see it every day, Lake Erie never ceases to amaze me. During the winter, the ice topped lake reminded me of pictures of the Kerguelen Islands.  Now that the ice is gone, the lake looks like a beautiful ocean.  You can understand why I wanted to take pictures today.