It used to be the case that once the clocks had gone back and winter weather set in, then car events more or less ceased, with a big gap in the enthusiast’s diary until the arrival of spring. Not any more, it would seem and especially in a year where no events to speak happened at all for the first few months of the year. So whilst the big organised events do drop off, there is still plenty that someone like me can do to get a “fix” of cars more or less every weekend. A lot of what is on my calendar in the first few weeks of 2022 has the word “Abarth” somewhere in the title, but there are plenty of other options. This is one such event, a monthly gathering of Jaguar owners, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month at the British Car Museum at Gaydon. I’ve been to it once before, when a good friend and I decided that the antidote to a particularly wet day was to go and have a proper look at the contents of the museum. Despite the unspeakably wet weather that day there was a good turn out of the “Big Cat”, which had clearly been a lot bigger than before I arrived. So I knew that the event had potential. As I was going to be in the area on the first weekend of 2022, I planned to go along again. Disappointingly, as the date approached the forecast looked ever more awful with incessant rain in prospect. As the event is free to attend (unless you go in the museum), I decided to stop by, and if it proved to be lacking in cars, then I would simply head on elsewhere. It was indeed a very wet morning, at least as bad as it had been in October 2020, but I arrived to find that almost the whole parking area to the left of the main driveway approach was full of Jaguars, with more arriving after I had parked up. The rain was unrelenting, so most of the owners parked up and headed inside for a chat and a warming cup of coffee, but I lingered outside taking photos and chatting to the few brave souls who were still outdoors and this is what I saw:
Top marks for braving the weather have to go to the driver of this C Type. With no roof at all, he would have got more than mildly damp on the journey to and from the event, for sure! The C-Type was built specifically for the race track . It used the running gear of the contemporary road-proven XK120 clothed in a lightweight tubular frame, devised by William Heynes, and clothed in an aerodynamic aluminium body designed by Malcolm Sayer. The road-going XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam, straight-6 engine produced between 160 and 180 bhp, but when installed in the C-Type, it was originally tuned to around 205 bhp. Early C-Types were fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. Later C-Types, from mid 1953, were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter, and braking performance was improved with disc brakes on all four wheels, which were something of a novelty at the time, though their adoption started to spread quite quickly after Jaguar had used them. The lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame was designed by William Heynes. Malcolm Sayer designed the aerodynamic body. Made of aluminium in the barchetta style, it is devoid of road-going items such as carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles. The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice. In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and triple Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker-Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th. In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the cars vulnerable to overheating, and all three retired from the race. The Peter Whitehead-Ian Stewart and Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton cars blew head gaskets, and the Stirling Moss-Peter Walker car, the only one not overheating having had a full-sized radiator hurriedly fitted, lost oil pressure after a mechanical breakage. Testing by Norman Dewis at MIRA after the race proved that the overheating was caused more by the revisions to the cooling system than by the altered aerodynamics: the water pump pulley was undersized, so it was spinning too fast and causing cavitation; also the header tank was in front of the passenger-side bulkhead, far from the radiator, and the tubing diameter was too small at 7/8 inch. With the pump pulley enlarged, and the tubing increased to 1 1/4 inch, the problem was eliminated. The main drawback of the new body shape was that it reduced downforce on the tail to the extent that it caused lift and directional instability at speeds over 120 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. These cars had chassis numbers XKC 001, 002 and 011. The first two were dismantled at the factory, and the third survives in normal C-type form. In 1953 C-Types won again, and also placed second and fourth. This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp. Further weight was saved by using a rubber bag fuel tank, lighter electrical equipment and thinner gauge steel for some of the chassis tubes . Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph (170.35 km/h) – the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). 1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters. Between 19951 and 1953, a total of 53 C-Types were built, 43 of which were sold to private owners mainly in the US. When new, the car sold for about $6,000, approximately twice the price of an XK120. Genuine cars have increased in value massively in recent years, however buyers do need to be aware that replicas have been produced by a number of companies, though even these are far from cheap to buy thesedays. Cars with true racing provenance are well into the millions now. A C-Type once owned and raced by Phil Hill sold at an American auction in August 2009 for $2,530,000 and another C-type was sold at the Pebble Beach auction in 2012 for $3,725,000, More recently an unrestored C-Type that raced at Le Mans has sold for £5,715,580, during the Grand Prix Historique race meeting in Monaco. In August 2015, an ex-Ecurie Ecosse Lightweight C-type, chassis XKC052 and the second of only three works lightweights, driven by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart to fourth at the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, fetched £8.4 million at auction in California.
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.
By the mid 60s, the Jaguar range was quite complicated, with several different models, all looking quite similar, and owing their origins to the Mark 2 of 1959. The situation was not eased with the launch of the 420 at the October 1966 London Motor Show. This was produced for two years, and was the ultimate expression of a series of “compact sporting saloons” which included the Mark 2 (which morphed into the 240 and 340) and the S Type, all of which shared the same wheelbase. Developed from the Jaguar S-Type, the 420 cost around £200 more than that model and effectively ended buyer interest in it, although the S-Type continued to be sold alongside the 420/Sovereign until both were supplanted by the Jaguar XJ6 late in 1968. 10,236 of the 420 were sold over that two year period.
Although some of the older cars lived for a few months more, whilst production ramped up, the Jaguar XJ6 and Daimler Sovereign cars that were launched in 1968 were intended to replace all the saloon cars. Offered initially with a choice of 2.8 and 4.2 litre XK engines, these cars wowed the press and the public just as much as many of their predecessors had done, both for their excellence and the fact that they were priced well below their competitors. It was not long before there was a long waiting list. As if this was not enough, the new V12 engine which had first been seen in the Series 3 Jaguar E Type was slotted under the bonnet of the cars in Spring 1972, creating one of the fastest and most refined saloons available in the world. At the time, the fact that it would only average around 11 mpg was not an issue, but within 18 months, and the onset of the Yom Kippur war and the resultant fuel crisis of late 1973, suddenly these cars – desirable as they were – became rather harder to sell. A Series 2 model was launched in the autumn of 1973, with new front end styling and bumper height set to meet the requirements of the critical US market.
Successor to the E Type was the XJ-S, launched in September 1975, and to a not universally approving public. This was a very different sort of sporting Jaguar, more boulevard cruiser than sports car, even though the car had plenty of appeal with its smooth V12 engine which gave it genuine 150 mph performance. Press reports were favourable, but a thirsty V12 and a car with inconsistent build quality and styling that not everyone warmed to meant that sales were slow, and they got slower as the decade passed, leading questions to be asked as to whether the car should continue. As well as sorting the saloon models, Jaguar’s Chairman, John Egan, put in place a program to improve the XJ-S as well, which also benefitted from the HE engine in early 1981. A Cabrio model and the option of the new 3.6 litre 6 cylinder engine from 1984 widened the sales appeal, and the volumes of cars being bought started to go up. A fully open Convertible, launched in 1988 was the model many had been waiting for, and by this time, although the design was over 10 years old, it was now brimming with appeal to many. 1991 saw an extensive facelift which changed the styling details as well as incorporating the latest mechanical changes from the Jaguar parts bin, making the XJS (the hyphen had been dropped from the name in 1990) a truly desirable car. Seen here were a number of Coupe and Cabrio models.
Throughout the 1970s Jaguar had been developing “Project XJ40”, which was an all-new model intended to replace the original XJ6. Scale models were being built as early as 1972. Due to the 1973 oil crisis and problems at parent company British Leyland, the car was continually delayed. Proposals from both Jaguar’s in-house designers and Pininfarina were received. Eventually, it was decided an internal design would be carried through to production and, in February 1981, the British Leyland board approved £80 million to produce the new car. Launch was originally scheduled for 1984, but following Jaguar’s de-merger from BL and privatisation that same year, the company’s CEO Sir John Egan took advantage of the resurgence in sales of the existing Series III XJ6 (particularly in the lucrative North American market) to delay the XJ40’s launch a further two years to allow for more development time. The XJ40 was at the time, the most extensively tested vehicle the company had ever developed. Designs for the XJ40 pioneered significant improvements to how Jaguar cars were designed, built, and assembled. Among these improvements was a 25% reduction in the number of bodywork panels required per car (e.g. three pressings needed for a Series 3 door compared with one for a XJ40 door), resulting in not only a more efficient assembly process, but also a weight saving and a stiffer structure. Initially, only two engines were offered across the XJ40 models: a 2.9 L and a 3.6 L version of the AJ6 inline-six. In 1990 the 3.6 L was replaced by a 4.0 L model and in 1991 the 2.9 L was replaced by a 3.2 L model. During the development of the XJ40, British Leyland had considered providing the Rover V8 engine for the car, which would have eliminated the need for future Jaguar engine production. The XJ40 bodyshell was allegedly engineered to prevent fitting V-configuration engines – in particular the Rover V8 – which British Leyland management had desired; this delayed the introduction of the V12-powered XJ12 until 1993 as the front structure of the XJ40 had to be extensively redesigned. As a consequence, the preceeding Series III XJ was kept in production in V12 form to cater for this market need until 1992. The automatic gearbox used in the 2.9 L, 3.2 L and 3.6 L six-cylinder cars was the four-speed ZF 4HP22. On the 4.0 L, the four-speed ZF 4HP24 was used. A stronger automatic gearbox was required for the V12-equipped cars, and the four-speed GM 4L80-E was selected. The manual gearbox fitted to early cars was the five-speed Getrag 265, while later cars received the Getrag 290. The automatic transmission selector was redesigned to allow the manual selection of forward gears without accidentally selecting neutral or reverse. This new feature was dubbed the “J-Gate” and remained a staple of all Jaguar models up until the 2008 Jaguar XF, when shift by wire technology rendered it redundant – all subsequent Jaguar models now use a rotary knob for transmission mode selection. The base XJ6 of the model range was modestly equipped; extra-cost options included alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, leather upholstery, and an automatic transmission. The exterior featured two pairs of circular headlamps and black powder-coated window frames. The Sovereign model came equipped with significantly more features than the base XJ6. Included was air conditioning, headlamp washers, a six-speaker sound system, rear self-levelling suspension (SLS), anti-lock braking system, and inlaid burl walnut wood trim (pre-MY1991). The headlamps fitted were the rectangular single units. The window frames were made from stainless steel. Further variants would follow, before the car’s replacement in 1994.
The “X300” model was the first XJ produced entirely under Ford ownership, and can be considered an evolution of the outgoing XJ40 generation. Like all previous XJ generations, it featured the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement. The design of the X300 placed emphasis on improved build quality, improved reliability, and a return to traditional Jaguar styling elements. At the car’s launch in October 1994 at the Paris Motor Show, Jaguar marketing material made use of the phrase “New Series XJ” to describe the X300 models. The X300 series represented the result of a £200 million facilities renewal program by Ford. which included the introduction of state-of-the-art automated body welding robots manufactured by Nissan. Aesthetically, the X300 received several updates in the design refresh led by Geoff Lawson in 1991. The mostly flat bonnet of the XJ40 was replaced with a fluted, curvaceous design that accentuated the four separate round headlamps. Rear wings were reshaped to accommodate the new wrap-around rear light clusters. Also, the separate black-rubber bumper bar of the XJ40 were replaced with a fully integrated body-coloured bumper. The interior of the X300 was similar to that found in the XJ40, with some revisions. The seats were updated to have a more rounded profile, wood trim was updated with bevelled edges, and the steering wheel was redesigned. Jaguar’s V12 engine and AJ6 inline-six (AJ16) engine were both available in various X300 models, although they received significant updates. Both engines were fitted with distributorless electronic engine management systems. The Jaguar X308 first appeared in 1997 and was produced until 2003. It was an evolution of the outgoing X300 platform, and the exterior styling is nearly identical between the two generations, though there are quite a few detailed differences if you know what to look for. The major change was the under the bonnet. Having discontinued production of both the AJ16 inline-six and V12 engines, Jaguar offered only its newly designed V8 engine (named the AJ-V8.) It was available in either 3.2 or 4.0 litre forms, although certain markets, such as the United States, only received cars powered by the 4.0 litre version. The 4.0 litre version was also supercharged in certain models. Equipment levels were notably more generous than had previously been the case.
The Jaguar XJ (X350) is a full-size four-door luxury sedan/saloon manufactured and marketed worldwide by Jaguar for model years 2003–2009 as the third generation of the Jaguar XJ saloon — carrying the internal designation X350 and the internal designation X358, following its 2007 intermediate facelift. Both the X350 and X358 were available with a six-speed automatic transmission, a range of petrol and diesel engines (V6, V8 and supercharged V8), numerous trim levels — and short wheelbase (2003–2009) or long wheelbase (2005–2009) configurations. Extended-length models were the longest vehicles Jaguar had manufactured. The X350 was noted for its advanced electrical systems, self-levelling adaptive air suspension and full aluminium unibody chassis and bodywork, among the first for a mass-produced automobile. The bodyshell (body in white) was 40 per cent lighter and 50 percent stiffer than its predecessor, despite its increased overall size. Styling of the third generation was a conservative evolution of the previous XJ’s styling; its slatted grille recalling the grille of the original 1968 XJ. Exterior styling was by principal designer Tom Owen along with Sandy Boyes, under the design directorship of Geoff Lawson, who died midway through the project, and his successor Ian Callum. the XJ’s interior was styled by Giles Taylor. Manufacturing took place at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich Assembly in Birmingham. With an unpainted and highly polished example of its all-alloy body shell on display, the X350 debuted at the 2002 Paris Motor Show. The full X350/358 generation largely coincided with Jaguar’s ownership by Ford’s Premier Automotive Group — until Tata Motors purchased Jaguar in 2008. Production ended in March 2009 after seven years with a total production of 83,566.
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 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.
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 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.
ALSO FROM JLR
There were a couple of notable examples of product from Jaguar’s now sister company, Land Rover, in the parking area, as well.
Twenty-five years after the introduction of the original Range Rover, the second-generation was introduced for the 1995 model year, based on the 8 inches (20 centimetres) longer chassis of the old LWB model, and with an updated version of the Rover V8 engine. There was also the option of a 2.5-litre BMW six-cylinder turbo-diesel with a Bosch injection pump. This was the first diesel injection with electronic controls in a Land Rover, before common rails were introduced. This was a result of BMW’s subsequent ownership of Rover Group and hence the Land Rover brand. The new model offered more equipment and premium trims, positioning the vehicle more strongly above the Land Rover Discovery than the old original, to meet the increased competition in the SUV marketplace. This model was the last to feature the Rover V8 and interior leather supplied by Connolly who went out of business in 2002. It was the first model to feature Satellite Navigation as an option. The car never found the same level of enthusiasm as the model it replaced.
This is the latest fifth generation Range Rover, announced in the summer of 2021 but yet to go on sale. As is often the case, for some months before the final production vehicles reach customers, a number of the new model are out on the road in the hands of employees, marked up as “Pre-Production” vehicle, and this would appear to be one of them. It is the first completely undisguised example of the car that I have seen. From some angles, especially the back, it is easy to distinguish from its predecessor. The front will require more familiarity before as easy to tell apart.
There were plenty of other cars in the car park. Initially, these were separate from the Jaguars but it was not long before people decided to infiltrate the Jaguar display even though it must have been very obvious that they were doing so. The only car of real note and the merited a photo was this Aston Martin Rapide.
The weather may have been truly shocking, with gusty winds making control the essential umbrella something of a challenge, but I did enjoy this event and was both surprised and amazed at the scale of the turnout, thus vindicating my decision to go along. Hopefully when I go to one of these meets for a third time, it can be with more favourable weather! They happen on the first weekend of every month, so if I spot a gap in the diary (not likely for a while looking at it!), I shall be along again.