Jaguar: from granddad's XJ to my XJSSun, 20 Jun 2010
A love of Jaguars from childhood is a common theme among the Jaguarati and I am no different. My grandfather owned Jaguars for 50 years, each one bought from new and a treasured possession. I was incredibly impressed by these beautiful beasts, where only the crunch of gravel heralded his arrival, nothing as common as an engine note. When the time had come for him to leave I used to beg him to give me a lift to the end of our lane, just to experience a real car. We had Peugeot estates at the time, so there was no competition.
I remember two things vividly from this time. The first was grandfather writing to Sir John Egan when the new XJ40 came out because there weren't any available to buy. He told Sir John that as an elderly man he would probably be dead before he got to the top of the waiting list. To his credit, Egan wrote back with the details of a very low mileage one that grandfather then bought.
The second memory was grandfather's crash in this very car. He was in his 80's by now but still came to work once a month. On his way home he fell asleep at the wheel outside a Ford dealership. He escaped without injury and the Jaguar just required a new bumper. However, he wrote off three Fords and from that moment on was unstoppable on the subject of Jaguar build quality.
The last time he came over for Christmas lunch he was proudly clutching a copy of CAR. In that issue the Jaguar was rated the best large executive car, the Saab 9000 the worst. Grandfather's pride in Jaguar was only beaten by the knowledge that Dad (his son) had just bought the Saab.
I had an agonising wait until I was 28 for my first Jaguar, a 4.0-litre XJS. My friend's car began to seem noisy and bumpy and didn't smell right. I have to admit that they seemed to spend a lot less time and money at garages than I did though. So, I ended up with my current car, a 1996 XK8, which remains the best car I have ever owned and is very reliable to boot. If I ever talk about selling it my wife threatens divorce, so it looks like I will keep it (and her) for a while longer. Her brother is, of course, an engineer at Jaguar.
By Brough Ransom