Embedded deep within my psyche is an affinity for a performance car from across the pond. Growing up in a time and place when American muscle and hot rods were the thing dreams were made of, I found a place in my heart and soul for a British invader.
From an early age, the name Jaguar was filed in the same folder with Corvette, Cobra, and Thunderbird. Perhaps it was the early 1960s song “Lit Cobra” that helped legitimatize the legacy of Jaguar. While friends were being faithful to the Bow Tie, Blue Oval, and Pentastar, my personal allegiance would often wander into foreign territory. I was the oddball kid who would ask the hobby shop owner for the E-Type model kit. The one who knew how the Jag’s horsepower rating and cornering abilities matched up to the Sting Ray’s. The kid who would not blindly follow the straight line of domestic bliss.
As I grew older, the ways and means of life enabled me to purchase Corvettes. I did so with great anticipation and a fair measure of pride, but remorse almost always followed. Even the most perfect of my domestic car collection played second fiddle to the wondrous violin that is an E-Type. While the “Vettes” possess ultra masculine exterior overtones, the quiet sophistication and the sexy lines of a Jaguar are unmatched in the annals of automotive styling.
When Jaguar fell upon hard times, part of me used this to justify the reasons I never became a Jaguar owner. At the same time, my heart broke for the reduction in image of the brand I fiercely defended so many years ago.
Recently, Jaguar extended to me an XK-R to enjoy and evaluate. After just five minutes behind the wheel of the red convertible, all my childhood dreams were reborn As the miles went by, all my highest expectations were realized. Over the past 20 years I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to drive just about every production car made. From the best of Ferrari, BMW, and Porsche, to the gut-wrenching brutality of Vipers and ZR-1 Corvettes, the inundation has been formed to compare brand to brand, model to model. With this background to draw from, I can say that no car I have ever driven can compare to the Jaguar XK-R. I now understand what owners of H-Types must have felt when they first indulged themselves decades ago.
Today’s Jag lineup rivals the offerings from Germany, Japan, and America. In fact, with the S-Type as an introduction into the entry-level performance sedan market, the only item missing from the Jaguar line is an SUV. (Like the world needs another luxury-laden, truck-based highway hog.)
There is something very special about a Jaguar…any Jaguar. An extraordinary aura emanates from the shape and image of the car. Just saying the name commands respect. When driving a Jaguar, one must prepare for stares and envious accolades. On the expressway or at a red traffic signal, people can’t resist the urge to gaze, and perhaps even dream. No one seems to be exempt from the intoxicating lure of the chrome-plated cat on the hood or the performance sports car heritage that continues to live on. It is magic on four wheels, a unique vision linking a rich past with a promising future. It is what true car enthusiasts are inspired by and the goal for which so many work so hard…to realize the ultimate reward and joy of holding title to one of these legendary motorcars.
For me, the one-week love affair with the XK-R provided another goal, an opportunity to redefine my automotive desires. My heart has been set upon a new path: a mission to step into my garage and find one of the vintage Jaguars I admired as a youth occupying a full-time position. Aspirations reaffirmed and adult motivations accelerated. It’s more than just a car…it’s a Jaguar.