I don’t know whether you’ve seen the advert for the new F Type Coupé. Under the theme ‘good to be bad’ the advert plays on the car’s brutishness and its ‘villainous inclinations.’ You can see it here on YouTube. It might just be the ultimate accessory.
I still remember the first time I laid eyes on a Jaguar. It was parked off the high street in Antigua where I grew up. I was around 16 and had just begun to develop what was to become a lifelong interest in cars, having begun my first job with a local mechanic. Compared to the Japanese cars that were in vogue at the time and parked all around it, the Jag might as well have been from an alien planet.
Whereas they were clearly designed with a geometry set this car was all swooping curves and British racing green in a heady concoction of chrome and wood, leather and gleaming exhausts. Even the name was exotic: Jaguar…. I was smitten.
Over the next few years every time I was in the town I looked out for it. Based on where it was parked I was able to work out that its owner probably worked in one of two buildings. When one of the businesses, a bank, relocated to a different street a few block away, the car started appearing outside that building. So I was pretty certain the owner worked in that bank.
At 19 I happened to have an interview in that very same bank. At the end of the interview I was asked whether I had any questions. I replied that I had only 2. First, I wished to know who owned the gorgeous XJ6 parked outside and second, what would I need to do to get one?
It was meant as a light hearted moment and for a few seconds I thought I had misjudged it very seriously. The manager conducting my interview paused for a few moments saying nothing. Then he put down his pen, with a tiny flicker of a smile, took a shallow breath and then spoke. ‘The Jag is mine,’ he said, and as for what you would need to do to get one If you work hard for a long time you can have one.’
I was stunned. I knew that the bank had a number of British ex-pats in its senior management, so I had simply assumed that this most British of cars belonged to one of them. This guy was a local Antiguan; it hadn’t occurred to me that the car might be his, which is why I felt it might be safe to ask my slightly cheeky questions.
The following day the bank called to say I’d got the job. To this day I’m persuaded that saying nice things about the interviewer’s Jag only improved my chances.
From that day to this, over 25 years later, I’ve remained a fan of the marque, both as a petrol head who loves cars in general and as a dedicated Jaguar fan.
Jaguar today is a very different company from the one it was in the 1980s. It has changed ownership twice during that time period, first sold to Ford in 1989 and then to Tata in 2008.
Back then its model range was limited to a single range, the XJ with XJ6, XJ12 and XJS variants. This was the top of the range and hardly accessible to mere mortals.
Today the range has grown to 4 cars: XJ, XK, XF and the recently launched F-Type. Over the next 2 years two additional cars are due to be launched. The XE will replace the unloved and discontinued X-Type in 2015 and the as yet unnamed first ever Jaguar SUV is due to be launched in 2016. However, the XK will be discontinued later this year.
For the moment all the headlines are about the Jaguar F Type, the long anticipated successor to Jaguar’s most famous model and the car voted as the most beautiful car ever made, the Jaguar E-Type. The F-Type (see what they did there?) was launched as a convertible in 2013 and the coupé last month. Hence the big push with television advertising.
As a petrol head I think of a car as far more than a gentleman’s accessory. However, as accessories go, an F-Type might just be the ultimate. Even Loki drives one….