By the start of October the events season in a typical year is drawing to a close. 2020, of course, has been anything but a typical year. When restrictions on meeting up eased during the summer months, some event organisers looked to try to reschedule what they had been forced to cancel earlier in the season, and it looked as if the start of October was going to present some real challenges in deciding what to attend from a long list of possibilities. But as the date approached, one by one, they started to be crossed off the list, as it became clear that most of them could not be run safely, or perhaps even legally in an era of Social Distancing and then with the newly introduced “Rule of Six”. So for me the first weekend of October went from being a very busy-looking weekend to one with no scheduled events taking place. The small group of friends – fewer than 6, I hasten to add – with whom I had been planning to go to the reschedule of the reschedule of the Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble and I decided that it would be nice to meet up at Caffeine & Machine instead. A separate report of that will ensure, but I decided to make a weekend of it, and with one of those friends, we decided to take advantage of a clear diary to go and investigate what is now called the British Motor Museum at Gaydon “properly”, undistracted by an event taking place outdoors. Well, that was the plan, but when we booked tickets, we found that there was indeed an event scheduled to be taking place. Once a month, it would seem there is a Breakfast Meeting for Jaguar owners. That seemed simply to add a further incentive to go.
As the Saturday in question drew closer, the weather forecast looked increasingly awful, with suggestions that much of the country would be receiving a month’s worth of rain in a 24 hour period. Grateful for the fact that we had an indoor day planned, we concluded that it was not worth arriving at Gaydon much earlier than the pre-booked entry time to the museum, as there would be unlikely to be many Jaguars parked up for the Breakfast meeting. I was wrong I arrived at around 11:15, and although it was still chucking it, and the car park was more like a lake, I could see an awful lot of cars in it as I came down the long approach road, and yes, most of them were Jaguars. I counted in excess of 50, and although they did start to depart soon after, there were enough cars to merit a report in its own right. So here it is.
By some margin, this was the oldest Jaguar present. Parked up separately from the more modern cars, it was attracting lots of interest, and deservedly so too, as these cars have always been well-regarded and that’s even before the model gained additional fame from its appearance in a certain tv detective series. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150 model XK.
The S Type was launched at the 1998 Birmingham Motor Show, going on sale the following spring. Initially offered with a choice of 2.5 or 3 litre V6 and a 4.2 litre V8 petrol engines, the range grew to include Jaguar’s first diesel (the 2.7 litre unit that was originally developed by Peugeot-Citroen) and the potent supercharged S Type R. A mild facelift improved – in most people’s opinion – the look of the rear end, and new engines made the car perform better, but this slightly retro-styled car never quite hit the spot for many people. Production ceased in 2008 when the new XF model replaced it.
When launched in 2001, the X Type was quite well received, seen as a welcome entrant in the “3 Series class”, but it did not take long before the Press and hence the internet-erati turned against the car, vilifying it way beyond what was justified, So what if it was based on a Mondeo? That was probably the best car in its class, and an excellent vehicle by any standard, so clothing well respected mechanicals with a conservative but not unattractive body and fitting better quality trim than Ford did should not have merited the car’s appearance on countless “worst cars ever” lists, but that is the fate that befell the model. Will time heal this all over? Who knows, but at least three owners brought their X Type along as part of Jaguar’s history and heritage and they should be thanked for that. Two of them were the estate version, notable for being the first series factory production Jaguar estate cars made.
The second generation of the XK debuted in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany, styled by Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum. The X150’s grille was designed to recall the 1961 E-Type. The XK is an evolution of the Advanced Lightweight Coupé (ALC) introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show. The XK features a bonded and riveted aluminium chassis shared with the XJ and body panels, both a first for a Jaguar grand tourer. Compared to the XK (X100), the XK (X150) is 61.0 mm (2.4 in) wider and is 162.6 mm (6.4 in) longer. It is also 91 kg (200 lb) lighter resulting in performance and fuel consumption improvements. Unlike the X100, the X150 has no wood trim on the interior offered as standard equipment. The interior featured steering column mounted shift paddles. A more powerful XKR version having a supercharged variant of the engine was introduced in 2007. The XK received a facelift in 2009, with minor alterations to front and rear lights and bumper designs, together with the introduction of a new 5.0-litre V8 for both the naturally aspirated XK and the supercharged XKR. The interior also received some changes, in particular the introduction of the XF style rotary gear selector mated to the new ZF automatic transmission. The XK received a second and more minor facelift in 2011 with new front bumper and light design, which was presented at the New York Auto Show. A higher performance variant of the XKR, the XKR-S, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. The XKR-S gained an additional 40 bhp over the XKR bringing the 0-60 mph acceleration time down to 4.4 seconds and the top speed up to 300 km/h (186 mph). A convertible version of the XKR-S was introduced in 2012. Production of the XK ended in July 2014 without a replacement model.
This is from the X358 generation of the XJ, a facelift of the X350, which debuted in February 2007 with a revised front grille and front bumper assembly featuring a prominent lower grille. A Jaguar emblem within the grille replaced the previous bonnet-mounted ornament. The front lights were revised and door mirrors incorporated side repeaters. The front fenders/wings had prominent faux side vents, and the side sills, rear bumper and tail lights were revised. The interior featured redesigned front seats. Short and long wheelbase versions were offered. Engines were carried forward with the diesel having assumed ever greater significance.
The XF was developed at Jaguar’s Whitley design and development HQ in Whitley, Coventry and was built at Castle Bromwich Assembly facility in Birmingham. Initially, the XF was planned to use an all aluminium platform but due to time constraints put by Jaguar’s board on the development team, the X250 makes use of a heavily modified Ford DEW98 platform. The XF was launched at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, following the public showing of the C-XF concept in January 2007 at the North American International Auto Show. Customer deliveries commenced in March 2008, with a range of V6 and V8 engines. Designed by Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum, the styling incorporates an oval mesh grille recalling the original XJ of 1968. The boot lid retained the S-Type’s chromed blade to its edge and included a “leaper” hood ornament. The XF was launched with a variety of trims called, depending on country, ‘SE’, ‘Luxury’, ‘Premium Luxury’ (or ‘Premium’), ‘Portfolio’ (or ‘Premium Portfolio’), ‘SV8’ (or ‘Supercharged’) and ‘R’. For the UK market, company car-friendly ‘Executive Edition’ and ‘SE Business’ models with a lower tuned versions of the 3.0 L and 2.2 L diesel engines respectively were available. The interior included air conditioning vents which are flush-fitting in the dash, rotating open once the engine is started, and a rotating gearshift dial, marketed as JaguarDrive Selector, which automatically elevates from the centre console. Another departure from the traditional Jaguar cabin ambiance is the use of pale-blue backlighting to the instruments, switchgear, and around major control panels. Some minor systems, such as the interior lighting, are controlled by touching the light covers. The glove compartment also opens to the touch. The XF has no cloth interior option, with all trim levels featuring leathers. Wood veneers are available along with aluminium, carbon fibre and piano black lacquer trims. The XFR was announced at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January 2009 as a new performance derivative of the XF range, and featured the new 5.0-litre supercharged AJ-V8 Gen III engine rated at 510 PS (503 bhp), a revised front bumper and spoiler and 20-inch alloy wheels. In April 2011, Jaguar revealed the details of a facelift for the XF at the New York International Auto Show, with manufacturing beginning in July 2011. The facelift includes front and rear styling changes which are based on the original Jaguar C-XF concept car, internal trim enhancements, adaptive cruise control, and a new four-cylinder 187 hp 450 Nm (332 lb/ft) 2.2-litre diesel engine, which is combined with a new eight-speed automatic transmission and stop-start technology to emit 149 g/km CO2 and fuel consumption of 52.3 mpg‑imp. The Sportbrake was officially introduced in March 2012, and went on-sale in October of the same year. It is available with all of the saloon’s engines and has a loading capacity of 550 litres (19 cubic feet) with the seats up and 1,675 litres (59.2 cubic feet) with them folded. The maximum capacity surpasses that of the contemporary BMW 5 Series Touring, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class (X218) Shooting Brake. The extended roofline increases rear headroom by 48 mm (1.9 inches) and the rear bench includes a 60:40 split and remote-controlled ‘one-touch’ folding function. The load area is fitted with multi-function rails and is 1,970 mm (78 inches) long and 1,064 mm (41.9 inches) wide.
An R-S version of the XF was confirmed in 2012 following an image released shortly before the Los Angeles Auto Show. It uses the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine as the Jaguar XKR-S. The engine is rated at 550 PS (542 hp) at 6,500 rpm and 680 Nm (502 lb/ft) of torque at 5,500 rpm. The XFR-S has a 0–60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The XFR-S differs from the XFR as it has bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels, wider front grills and carbon fibre. The front grills aid aerodynamic efficiency as does the large rear wing and rear diffuser. These cars are rare so it was quite a surprise to find not just a saloon but also a SportBrake version here.
When the recently discontinued X351 generation XJ range first appeared in 2009 it was a very bold departure, stylistically, from all its predecessors. Jaguar made tis bold move hoping that it would allow the car to find great appeal than just among the loyal but generally relatively elderly traditional buyers of preceding XJ cars. It was a bit of a shock to some, though the XF had paved the way to some extent for the new appearance. The interior was praised for its ambience and quality and when people got to drive the car, it was clear that Jaguar had produced a true class winner, available with a range of petrol and diesel engines. Sadly, the market did not really respond with increased sales, with buyers in Europe flocking to the German trio just as they had done in favour of its predecessor. And in America, it had to contend with the Lexus which always sells well on that continent. Changes were made during the following years, most of them quite subtle, the most significant in 2015 when changes included LED front and rear lights, rear J-Blade lights, a new grille, and a new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, new driver assistance technology and a new audio system. To no avail, sadly and sales dwindles still further, making the end of production in 2019 inevitable.
And so we come to cars from the current range, and there were examples of each model that is still in production.
NOT JUST JAGUARS
Although Jaguar dominated in the main car parking area, there were plenty of other cars there as well, as the museum was surprisingly busy – perhaps a reflection of the fact that lots of people wanted an indoor activity for this wettest of days. Most of what was there was the sort of machine that in 30 years will perhaps be notable once the cars have become rare, but for now, they are just every-day models.
As well as my own Maserati Ghibli, though, another one of similar vintage did arrive shortly after I did. This one, in the striking colour of Blu Emozione, was not just petrol powered, but an S model, which means it benefits from the more potent 450 bhp engine, which would make it really quite rapid indeed. Not surprisingly, very few of these were sold in the UK, or indeed anywhere in Europe, as the running costs and taxation levies work against it. Sadly, I did not get the chance to talk to the owner, as he had parked up and disappeared by the time I made it over to where he parked.
When we came out of the main museum, heading towards the Collections Centre, we could see this Peugeot 306 Rallye in the now rather less full car park, so despite the relentless rain, just had to wander over and have a look. Well regarded from new, any 306 is quite a rare sighting now, and the Rallye is possibly the most desirable of them all. The Rallye was seen in 1998 and was a UK-only model, with 500 produced. It used the mechanicals from the GTI-6, but with less standard equipment (manual windows and mirrors, no air-con, Rallye-specific cloth instead of leather and alcantara, front spot lights removed), making it 65 kg (143 lb) lighter than the GTI-6. Sold at a discounted price of £15,995 (over £2000 less than a GTI-6), it only came in four colours – black, Cherry Red and Bianca White and one only in Dragoon Blue – and there were only 501 produced. The only drawback is the insurance costs as the Rallye is in group 16. As the production of the Rallye straddled the Phase 2 and 3 models, some Rallyes had superficial Phase 3 features such as the flush glass tailgate and slightly different bonnet, but remained fundamentally a Phase 2 model in such characteristics as the fuse box and electrical layout. The UK Rallye is different from the 2001 Australian market N5 Rallye, which was based on the 5-door XT model.
Given the truly foul weather, it is perhaps not a surprise that this was, with the one exception, a gathering almost exclusively of twenty-first century Jaguars, but even so, fair plat to the owners for coming in quite such numbers. Jaguar have not been having the easiest of times in the market in recent years, so it was really great to see that there are plenty of owners who clearly think their car and the Jaguar marque is special and are happy to meet up with fellow enthusiasts even on the soggiest of days. And for me, this was an excellent addition to what turned out to be a most enjoyable day at Gaydon.