Tuesday, 9 September 2014

XE Launch

YouGov’s poll in the Scottish referendum destroyed any hope Jaguar might have had about front pages and TV news channels. Exploits on or above the Thames presupposed Monday would be a slow news day and it was not. Spectaculars may be great for a management’s morale but good cars don’t need them. Three E-types at Geneva and lunch for press at a lakeside restaurant were enough in 1961. More attainable than a Ferrari, more charismatic than a Rolls-Royce, racier than a Mercedes-Benz the E-type stamped its image on a generation. The Mini made it big with a day’s press testing on a military test track at Chobham.

To be fair it’s not easy nowadays to make much of a new car. You can’t break a story in style. They are so conformist. The new XE looks so much like the XF and XJ it may pass un-noticed. As a family rendition it’s great. It is what the X-type should have been, yet perfectly good though it was, failed at. With a starting price of £27,000 XE takes on the 3-series BMW. It has advantages including being largely aluminium (Jaguar is careful to call it “aluminium-intensive”) and the F-type’s wishbone front suspension and integral link rear promise good handling. It is the most aerodynamic production Jaguar, with a Cd of 0.26. The quick S has an 8-speed automatic.
Unfortunately there is not much new about XE that you can see unless you count “The signature J-Blade running lights; another instantly recognisable Jaguar design element. In the rear lights, a horizontal line intersecting a roundel is a powerful styling feature inherited from the iconic E-type.” The aluminium and the Ingenium engines will be great but the helicoptering and the costly VIP endorsements reveal a collapse of confidence. Winning Le Mans used to be enough to get attention and reassure customers. Now Jaguar puts on stunts and made a great deal of working with “multi-platinum” (whatever that is) singer songwriter Emeli Sandé to create what it called a FEEL XE track, inspired through social media. Fans were asked “What makes you feel Exhilarated?”
Emeli premiered the new track live on the Thames as part of what Jaguar called an exclusive 45-minute set on a floating stage in the middle of the river. Three hundred guests watched from another boat and there was a projection-mapping spectacle on County Hall. “To create a truly stunning setting The London Eye, County Hall and Shell Building were turned red, while a series of red flares were launched along the river to turn the skyline red during the performance.”

BMW and Mercedes-Benz introductions are by comparison low-key. Audi would think it inappropriate. Their cars speak for themselves.

There’s nothing new. Jaguar flew the XE to Earls Court by way of Tower Bridge (left). Ford did the same 44 years ago (right) celebrating its millionth Cortina with a 2-hour flight to a new owner in Ostend.

From next week it's a whole new Dove Publishing. http://www.dovepublishing.co.uk

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Watts Up

Today vacuum cleaners, tomorrow cars. The EC has banned powerful engines in what we used to call Hoovers. How long before they go for cars? They’ve forbidden proper light bulb; they’ve given fridges and washing machines ratings. Cripps lives. The austere Sir Stafford (right) of the post-war Labour government disliked luxury cars and would have banned powerful ones. His fellow-reds in East Europe decreed the Trabant. Other levellers destroyed France’s luxury car industry. Cripps’s colleagues refused car manufacturers steel unless they made one model only.

Competition was deemed wasteful, but those that conformed, like Standard with the Vanguard (below), lived to regret it.

It was only the wisdom and entrepreneurship of the Wilks family, scorned by the powers-that-were for making Rovers so deprived of the means to make them, who got by with aluminium-bodied Land Rovers. The stop-gap saved their factory.
The EC and the Guardianistas have turned the war against carbon into a political movement. Fabian Cripps wanted Emergency Powers to rule by decree and although he never managed it, the EC follows the same principle. It imposes experts’ latest wheeze on the grounds that They Know what is Good for Us.

New vacuum cleaners are forbidden to have motors above 1,600W and, from 2017, 900W. The BBC’s environmental guru Roger Harrabin yesterday assured us that power was not important to the performance of a vacuum cleaner. It gathered dust just the same. You could say that about a Trabant (below); it would get you to Berlin or Moscow, it just took longer, it was noisy and it smoked.
The average vacuum cleaner now is about 1,800W, some as much as 2,200W, but it is only a matter of time before Crippsy bureaucrats marshal “experts”, to decree cars’ power for the sake of the environment, our own safety and banishment of wasteful competition.

They have already imposed rules on exhaust emissions, safety, headlamp heights, crush zones, materials, dimensions, fuel consumption and noise. Make the Watts Kilowatts. That would be 160kW or about 215bhp. And 90kW in a couple of years is 120bhp, about a mid-range Fiesta. Well it’s better than the 20kW or 27bhp of an asthmatic Trabant but then we have moved on haven’t we and we need more power to drive heavy bumpers, high headlamps, catalytic converters, crush zones, airbags…

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Details of the Atalanta (left), showing at the International Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace this weekend, are sketchy. It is unlikely to be as avant garde as its predecessor. Only around 20 were made between 1937 and 1939 but it broke new ground as the first British production car with all-independent suspension. Claimed to “maintain true fidelity to its predecessor and offer a unique motoring experience, the new Atalanta exhibits the style of Silver Screen glamour combined with developments from 75 years of motoring evolution.”

However to match the cars backed by racing drivers Peter Whitehead and Denis Poore, besides novel Hiduminium and Electron all-independent suspension it should have adjustable dampers, hydraulic brakes, two spark plugs with at least three valves per cylinder, and a selectable supercharger. We are told that 90% of the new components are designed and engineered directly by Atalanta, including castings, forgings and fabrications and the body is traditional aluminium-over-ash coachbuilt. But originals had the option of an electric Cotal epicyclic gearbox, a sort of early semi-automatic, or a 3-speed dual overdrive Warner.
The first Atalanta engines were designed by Albert Gough, late of Frazer Nash, and they had more than the feeble 60bhp of the 1934 chain-driven sports cars. There was a choice of 1½litre 78bhp or 2litre 98bhp, but before many were made Atalanta had them redesigned. AC Bertelli of Aston Martin went back to 2-valve heads with superchargers to choice from Centric or Arnott. In 1938 a 4.3litre V12 Lincoln Zephyr engine of 112bhp provided a decent turn of speed. The Zephyr was not much more than a side-valve Ford V8 with four more cylinders, but it improved acceleration. Top speed either way was about 90mph; perhaps more than enough because the independent rear with horizontal coil springs was said to produce curious handling although reducing wheelspin. (Autocar 1937 artwork above right)

Atalanta managing director Martyn Corfield, who has experience in car restoring: “Staying true to the original Atalanta design principles, we have enhanced the positive and enjoyable characteristics of vintage motoring in a style that is relevant and exciting today. As in the 1930s, Atalanta Motors provides the opportunity to commission an individual driving machine to exacting requirements. The new sports car offers an exhilarating drive with assured handling and a supremely comfortable ride.”

Visitors to the Concours of Elegance will be able to see a prototype of the new car as well as a 1937 Atalanta, one of seven survivors, owned by Matthew Le Breton, which won Best in Show at the 2007 Cartier et Luxe Concours at Goodwood.

“Atalanta’s presence at this year’s Concours affords a rare opportunity to see and commission a piece of motoring heritage.” The originals were expensive at £582. Commissioning a new one will be a bit more.

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Motor racing threw up some notable writers. SCH Davis, Bentley Boy of the 1920, sports editor of The Autocar over 40 years. Rodney Walkerley, his urbane, witty opposite number at The Motor. Bill Boddy, longest serving editor of Motor Sport; Denis Jenkinson its Continental Correspondent and co-pilot with Moss in the Mille Miglia. Gregor Grant, Autosport founder who never let the facts stand in the way of a good story. The engaging American Henry B Manney III, as funny in life as in print. Peter Garnier, Davis’s astute successor, so close to his subject they made him secretary of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association. Innes Ireland, amazingly articulate and perceptive at Autocar, paving the way for television punditry from James Hunt, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard. Elegant technicians, Laurence Pomeroy son of the gifted Vauxhall designer and LJK Setright, whose classical quotations were almost as good as Pom’s but whose engineering was no match. We had the well-informed David Phipps and nowadays Alan Henry and spirited prose from Maurice Hamilton and Peter Windsor.
Yet none of them were quite a match for the best news-gatherer the sport ever had. Ill-health has consigned Eoin Young to a hospice in his native New Zealand but his From The Grid column in Autocar was obligatory for anybody in the business or out of it. Well-connected ever since he came to Europe and worked with Bruce McLaren in 1961 Eoin had the biggest scoops. His was the best-informed commentary, nobody knew as much as he, nobody spilled as many secrets and above all his writing told readers he was the insider’s insider. It didn’t matter if you were an outsider, Eoin had a way of gaining your confidence.
Eoin Young knew who was going to drive for whom next year – sometimes before they did. He knew who was up-and-coming and who was going down-and-out. He would take notes and print it yet I don’t suppose he ever broke a single confidence. If you told Eoin anything he would take it that you were, in effect, telling the world. He was only the means to the printed page. His veracity seemed to encourage his informants, who told him things they’d confide to no-one else.
Maybe a little rancorous in later years - his personal life was turbulent – Eoin was competitive and neither gave nor expected anything less than determined bargaining in books. His Autocar columns will be a priceless resource to motor racing historians, his books perhaps less so. They were variable; he seemed to grow bored with research or writing at length or in depth. His forensic skills were best in his brief, punchy impertinent style.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Spa-Sofia-Liège: A motoring adventure

Fifty years ago this week I set off from Spa in Belgium to report the last Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally. The Marathon de la Route was organised by the Royal Motor Union of Liège, whose M Garot enjoyed his reputation for organising the toughest rally in the world. Started in 1931 as the Liège-Rome-Liège, it had been to various turning points, settling in 1964 on Bulgaria then well behind the Iron Curtain. Only a handful of cars ever made it to the finish.

I set off from Spa in pursuit. The Motor sent junior staff on important assignments safe in the knowledge that they were accompanied by veteran photographers. They, like George Moore who came with me, had done it all before. We could pitch up at a Yugoslav B&B; George would know the language, how much we’d be charged and probably the proprietor’s name. He introduced me to drivers, team managers, other journalists and helped me across the tripwires of providing a true and accurate account, without frightening the horses.

You would be meeting them again on the RAC and then the Monte as well as next year’s Alpine. They seemed to run out of Presse plates so I ran as an Officiel.

A Ford Corsair GT was unlikely as a means of keeping up with works Austin-Healey 3000s and 1962 European Rally Champion Eugen Böhringer, but it was the only car spare. It could manage 95mph on a good day and reach 60 inside 13sec. In the interests of science I made the brakes fade on the downside of an alp; I had heard about brake fade but never really experienced it so when George dozed off I got the brake fluid boiling. The 9in front discs (there were drums at the back) were probably aglow. I left off before it got dangerous.

We kept up with the rally for 3,000 miles. George knew the shortcuts when it dashed off into the mountains. Memorably this was the event on which Logan Morrison and Johnstone Syer, whom I knew from Scottish rallies, retired their works Rover 2000 when Blomquist’s Volks-wagen overturned. The driver was unconscious and nobody, not even a VW team-mate, had stopped so Logan's opportunity for glory was lost.

This was also the rally on which BMC competitions manager Stuart Turner could not conceal his delight. He had not only scored the second win with a big Healey but also “We broke the sound barrier - we got a Mini to the finish of the Liège.”

Title of the report? The Beatles had just made “A Hard Day’s Night.” Aaltonen’s car (below left) was sold by Bonhams in 2005 for £100,500. I drove another works car in 1966, reporting on it in Safety Fast magazine and again in Sports Car Classics Vol 1. Amazon £3.08. After a number of countries decided rallies at such speeds dangerous, they refused the Royal Motor Union permission to continue it. The Marathon de la Route became a track event on the Nürburgring. The Liège-Rome-Liège reappeared only as a touring classic.

The Motor, week ending September 5 1964

A hard (four) days’ night. Austin-Healey win an even faster Spa-Sofia-Liège rally. Report by Eric Dymock pictures by George Moore.

“The Liège has been getting slack; there were twenty five finishers last year and eighteen the year before.” In 1961 there were eight, thirteen in 1960 and fourteen the year before that. M. Garot wants it back to about eight and this year he very nearly got his wish until an alteration in plans put several cars back into the running. But he tried.
After the finish, John Sprinzel said, “This year we did about a day and a half's route in a day.” The pace was much, much hotter with average speeds of 50 and 60 mph over rough, rocky roads where such a schedule is just not possible. The 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège was run in hot weather over roads little rougher than before but at a cracking, damaging pace for four days and nights of the most intensive high-speed motoring in the world.

RaunoAaltonen, the Finnish speedboat racer and Tony Ambrose, Hampshire shopkeeper, won with a works Austin-Healey 3000. Saabs driven by Erik Carlsson and Pat Moss-Carlsson were second and fourth, and Eugene Böhringer took third place in a 230SL Mercedes-Benz after two successive wins in 1962 and 1963. For finishing in three consecutive years, Böhringer wins a Gold Cup in company, this year, with Paul Colteloni (Citroën), Francis Charlier (Volvo) and Bill Bengry (Rover two years, now Sunbeam).

Citroën were the only manufacturer with a team left intact (they had entered three) and none of the club teams finished with more than two runners. Forty-two tired, dusty people steered twenty-one tired, dusty, battered motor¬cars into the finish on Saturday, survivors of the hundred or so gleaming machines which left Belgium late the previous Tuesday. Three Alfa Romeos were entered; none finished. Thirteen Citroëns were entered; only four sighed and wheezed into the last control. Out of eighteen Fords only three survived and the entire Triumph, Renault and Rover teams were. wiped out. Volks¬wagens, usually stayers on rough courses, started with seven, finished with one; even the might of Mercedes was reduced from five to two, although two more struggled on till the very last night.

The scrutineering on Tuesday morning was a leisurely affair, and nothing caused much trouble. As last year, there was some carping over lights, the officials preferring paired spot lamps and reversing lights worked by the gear 1ever and not a switch. So while they appeared not to notice Perspex windows and plastic body panels, they banned an odd fog light. Drivers solemnly removed the bulbs, the officials daubed paint here and there, stamped the car and it was over -¬ except for the replacement of the bulbs just down the road. All very casual. One British team chief wryly remarked “You could drive up here in a supercharged plastic van and they'd pass it”.

The cars were despatched from Liège on Tuesday evening (with the exception of eight non-starters including Trautmann (Lancia) and Feret’s Renault) in quick, three-minute batches of three to spend the night on the Autobahn through Germany, arriving just after first light at Neu Ulm, beyond Stuttgart. The section was neutralized for time, but it was here that Rover's misfortunes began. Anne Hall handed over the 2000 to co-driver Denise McCluggage who, while Anne slept, wrong-slotted down the Stuttgart Auto¬bahn and went 100 kilometres before she realized her mistake. The hour’s lateness guillotine swept down on the Rover before the event was properly under way.

Through Austria, and into northern Italy over the Passo di Resia to the Passo di Xomo, the rally began in earnest. High average speeds were imposed over the dusty, narrow roads, which climbed close to the peaks in everlasting hairpin bends. And the retirements began. The Boyd/Crawford Humber went out before the Alps, so did the Michael Nesbitt/Sheila Aldersmith Mini-Cooper, at Lindau with a broken fan pulley. High in the Alps, at Tresche-Conca the pace and the sun were both hot and tourists coming the other way, through the control at Enego were picking their .way carefully. But enthusiastic Italian policemen waved the rally cars through villages and the popu¬lation joined in urging the drivers to greater things. If the rally was momentarily unpopular with other cars actually on the road, bystanders in those high-altitude villages loved it. (Below: My 1966 works car on test)
By Villa Dont, just before the Yugoslav border, the WiIlcox-Smith Saab retired, the Xomo had claimed an Italian-entered Maserati, and some really punishing sections began. By the time the rally had entered Yugoslavia and passed through Bled, Col and Carrefour Ogulin in the early hours of Thursday morning the pace was telling very seriously. Ford's troubles began with the Richards/David Cortina going out, followed by the Ray/Hatchett Cortina. The Martin Hurst/Bateman Rover 3-litre retired after a stone damaged the fan, which disintegrated through the radiator. The car lost its water and that was that. The Belgian Harris/Gaban Lancia Flaminia, de Lageneste/du Genestou in their works Citroën, the Wilson/Smith Renault, and the Slotemaker/Gorris Daf, were among the 25 cars this 150-mile stretch of rocky, dusty road claimed. Timo Makinen had persistent tyre trouble; six punctures in quick succession losing him so much time he had to retire and another works Citroën went out with clutch trouble. Both American Ford Mustangs retired on this stretch, one overturned.

Novi, on the coast, Zagreb and the autoput to Belgrade then took their toll. The weather remained hot, wearing out tyres and brakes fast, as well as the drivers. The high speeds on the autoput overheated the gearboxes on the heavily undershielded works M.G. Bs of Pauline Mayman/Valerie Domleo and Julian Vernaeve/David Hiam; both broke before Belgrade. The Clark/Culcheth Rover 2000 stopped with engine trouble and the Marang/”Ponti” works Citroën retired. Many, many cars were now running very late and just before the Bulgarian border the organizers intro¬duced a change of route. This added a loop of fairly easy road about 90 kilo¬metres long, with which went a two-hour time allowance. Whether M. Garot did this to give the drivers some breathing space or not, this was in effect what happened and probably more cars reached the finish as a result. Certainly, the original route was passable (some used it) and service crews at Sofia, the turning point, were glad of the extra few minutes to restore the battered cars to something nearer rallyworthiness.

But Bulgaria claimed its victims too. Renault lost two R8s and Austin-Healey the Paddy Hopkirk/Henry Liddon car, which broke down also with gearbox trouble. Honda, after their tragic Liège last year, had entered one car with a Belgian/Japanese crew, but it, too retired when it was hit by a lorry. The Seigle-Morris/Nash Ford Corsair went out at Sofia and so did one of the big rear-engined Czechoslovac Tatras.

The survivors now attacked one of the roughest parts of the entire rally. Back into Yugoslavia through Kursumlija to Titograd and Stolac. The King/Marlow Ford Cortina (a private entry which usually gets further than most) went out near Titograd after the electrics failed and the car had to be push started at every control. A puncture when the time allowance was running out was the final blow. The Sprinzel/Donnegan Cortina's front suspension was getting tattered by now and needed frequent attention. Help was recruited from the most unlikely sources to weld and rebuild for a harrowing but apparently hilarious limp to the finish.

The Taylor/Melia works Cortina finished, its rally on the same road, or rather off the same road too badly damaged to continue. SimiIarly the Elford/Stone works Cortina crashed with its wheeIs in the air and the James/ Hughes Rover 3-litre stopped against the rocks, thus sacrificing two gold cups. All the accidents were without serious injury to the drivers.

The Gendebien/Demortier Citroën re¬tired less spectacularly but just as effectively with distributor trouble, then it was the turn of the works Triumph 2000s to fail. They had been going very strongly indeed up to Stolac and Split on the return through Yugoslavia, especially the Terry Hunter/Geoff Mabbs car. The Fidler/Grimshaw and the Thuner/Gretener cars went out first, then the third at Split, all within a short dis¬tance of one another with the rear suspension breaking loose. Logan Morrison/Johnstone Syer retired their works Rover 2000 when they went to the help of the Blomquist/Nilsson Volks¬wagen which had overturned. The driver was unconscious and no other help was available (nobody else, not even a VW team-mate had stopped) so Logan's chances went with another car's acci¬dent. The last Rover (the Cuff/Baguley 3-litre) retired, running out of time after hitting a wall near Split. The Toivonen Volkswagen went out with a broken gearbox.

At Obrovac, the rally had spread itself out over many miles of road. The sur¬vivors who were motoring strongest in the intense heat were being led by the Aaltonen/Ambrose Austin-Healey and Böhringer/Kaiser Mercedes-Benz 230SL, bent now and losing oil. The two Saabs were crackling their fierce exhaust notes through the tiny Yugoslav villages watched by wondering peasants and only Ewy Rosquist looked cool at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz 220SE she co-drove with Schiek, The long, straggling field drove up the twisty, spectacular, but well¬ surfaced coast road beside the inviting Adriatic and back into the Italian Alps for the second time and the final, gruelling night’s drive. Further casualties were few; there weren’t many cars left to drop out and those who had motored thus far were very determined indeed. A Belgian Mercedes-Benz 220SE failed at Bienno and the similar works car of Kreder and Kling at Trafoi.

The finish was almost an anti-climax. Large crowds and flowers greeted the dusty, battered, straggling cars as they creaked into Spa before the final proces¬sion to the Royal Motor Union premises in Liège itself. Past winner Pat Moss and her pert, pretty 19-year-old Swedish co¬driver Elizabeth Nystrom got a special cheer. The winning Austin-Healey looked little the worse for its ordeal and so did the Saabs. Böhringer's Mercedes had lost some front lights. The brave La Trobe/Skeffington Humber Super Snipe whose, performance had been staggering had a dented door; the big, yellow Tatra V8 which had done equally well (such big cars must have been a handful) was similarly bent. The Alan Allard/Mackies Cortina was scraped on all four corners, after an off-the-road excursion on its roof, and the Sprinzel/Donnegan Cortina limped into the finish using up so much of its time allowance that all the crowds had gone home and no one saw its bruises.

What pleased B.M.C. team manager Stuart Turner almost as much as his out¬right Austin-Healey win? “We broke the sound barrier - we got a Mini to the finish of the Liège.” The Wadsworth/Wood Morris-Cooper was, in the final pare fermé in Belgium, albeit with heavy penalties, but after some 3,100 of the world’s toughest, roughest, fastest miles.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fuel consumption tests

They are trying to change the rules for “official” fuel consumptions. Like the recent yes-no diesel fiasco it’s another example of a politicians’ fix. They created what they thought was an equable system, then discovered they really didn’t know what they were doing. As a road tester I found out how difficult it was to measure fuel consumption accurately. Frugal little saloons gulped fuel driven fast. Gas-guzzlers were surprisingly economical going slowly.

In the 1970s legislators decreed that manufacturers had been telling lies. A formula for working out fuel consumption was no easier for an official mind to work out than mine had been. A single mpg wouldn’t do. There had to be one at a steady slow speed, one at a steady motorway speed and one in traffic. It never worked very well. A slow-speed fuel-sipper could be a gushing drain going fast. Low-geared economy cars could be disappointing in town. A high-geared one could flatter only to deceive on the open road. Introducing Urban Cycle and Extra-Urban Cycle didn’t help much.

Even officials admit the figures are obtained under specific test conditions, “…and may not be achieved in ‘real life’ driving. A range of factors influence actual fuel consumption, driving style and behaviour, as well as the environment. Different variants or versions of one model are grouped together so the figures should be treated as indicative only.”

Averaging out the figures didn’t help. Last year testers were discovered taping up car doors and windows and driving on artificially smooth surfaces to gain a drop in “official” CO2 emissions, linked with fuel consumptions. Now, according to an anonymous EU official who blabbed to Automotive News, proposals for “a new real-world testing method,” are expected this year.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Deft design at Jaguar

Jaguars inspired designers beyond Jaguar, but none had the certain touch of Sir William Lyons. Bertone, Pininfarina and Giugiaro never matched Jaguar’s founder for identifying Jaguar customers. They were Italian of course. Jaguars were essentially English and middle class. From sunburst upholstery and faux nautical ventilators of the 1920s SS, to lookalike Bentleys of the 1940s Lyons understood his clientele. He provided them with big headlamps and walnut interiors, good proportions and discreet understatement. Jaguars looked not-too-racy and in perfect taste. His skill rarely deserted him although he probably over-embellished his second thoughts. No XK 140 or 150 matched the purity of the XK 120. Later E-types never had the plain elegance of the 1961 original, much the work of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer.

It all went wrong with the XJ-S, also partly Sayer’s, and made uncharacteristically with advice from fashionistas, who encouraged square headlamps, and salesmen pushing Jaguar up-market.
Nuccio Bertone had a go in 1957 with a car based on the XK150. The effect was quite close to the Jaguar idiom and in 1966 he did a nicely proportioned 2-door coupe on an S-type saloon. It looked a bit like the Sunbeam Venezia by Superleggera Touring three years earlier launched, if that’s the word, with gondolas in Venice. Pininfarina’s 1978 XJ-S Spyder was a stretchy E-type and William Towns tried an origami one sadly no more successful than his knife-edge Lagonda.

Giugiaro had a go in 1990 with the Kensington based on an XJ12 platform, shown at Geneva, which in my 11 March Sunday Times column I thought important. Jaguar style at the time was being obliged to address a wider market than the English middle class. Giugiaro occupied the high ground of automotive haute couture in 1990, with big commissions from the Far East as well as a series of VWs and Alfa Romeos in Europe. It was deceptive. Giugiaro was never into voluptuous curves and his Jaguar was heavy and rotund. Detailing was good. The grille and classically Jaguar rear window were fine but it remained a one-off. There was no encouragement from Jaguar, which regarded it very much as ‘not invented here’. Bertone tried again in 2011 with a slender pillarless saloon, the B99 hybrid.

The inhibitions designers face now make anything profound or distinctive in car design next to impossible. Crumple zones, pedestrian impact rules and headlamp heights are so constricting that anything ground-breaking is unlikely. Jaguar head of design Ian Callum’s hand is far more repressed than ever Lyons’s or Sayer’s was. Committees lobbyists and legislators, mostly now in Brussels, call the tune. Customers play second fiddle.

Pictures: (top) Sir William Lyons (left) with Tazio Nuvolari, XK120, Silverstone. (Top right) Bertone XK150. (left) Pininfarina XJ41. right Bertone's "Venezia" and left Giugiaro's Kensington. Below Pillarless hybrid at Geneva.


Related Posts with Thumbnails