Under Indian ownership, Jaguar has descended into the sort of theme-park Engish-esque-ness that was once the exclusive property of MINI. A Britannia-flag F-Type-RS is surely just days away at the point as Tata sweats to polish the brand before the inevitable start of Asian assembly. Today’s Jags are interesting and characterful vehicles after a fashion, but as with many other brands, they are still relying on the glamor of a previous age to move the metal.
So let’s return to that age, when John Egan ruled the roost and the pennies were pinched properly and “heritage” was a concept honored mostly in the breach, not the observance.
Your humble E-I-C’s quixotic love for the Jaguar XJ-S is relatively well-known, or should be, but it’s worth noting that the XJ-S represented the best of the company as well as the worst. No, it was never fully sorted, and no, none of them ever ran particularly well, but it was a Jaguar in the proper sense: the most grace, space, and pace for the money, and forward-thinking with it. No retro foolishness, no harkening to a past era of glory. Better to have the glory now.
And with the help of Tom Walkinshaw — hell, because of Tom Walkinshaw — glory was had, in 55-gallon-drum quantities. One free car was all that Jaguar provided to begin with, and from that seed a race-winning tree sprouted. No, there’s nothing “classic” or “retro” about the cars you’ll see if you click the above link, but do you care? Of course not. The star-crossed big coupe caused its owners enough grief to last most of them a lifetime, but when it shone, it truly shone. Will those days ever return? Will Jaguar, under Tata ownership, ever shoot the moon for a super-aerodynamic, high-speed, high-drama coupe again? We can only hope.