Another COTY winner

COTY jurors aren’t voting for Car of the Year. They are voting to look Green. Why else would they have elected the Ampera in 2012? They surely can’t have expected it to sell more than a handful. They’re not that stupid. No, they are spooked, along with governments round the world, by what WS Gilbert called greenery yallery Grosvenor Gallery foot-in-the-grave young men. Or women.

Opel and Vauxhall dealers, who hadn’t a lot of choice perhaps, accounted for the first year’s 5,000 or so Amperas. That sank to 3,184 last year and collapsed to 332 in the first five months of this, of which only 46 were in its German home market. GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky vented frustration at Geneva: “All the governments in Europe said, ‘We want EVs, we want EVs.’ We show up with one, and where is everybody?” The answer is that they were off buying something else, real cars mostly.

COTY jurors are like governments appeasing Green voters with inglorious wind farms and wasteful subsidies. By any standards the Ampera was a disaster. Production is stopping and although GM will redesign the broadly similar Volt next year it won’t come to Europe.

There wasn’t much wrong with the Ampera. It was sensibly-sized and quite handsome, drove smoothly and quietly and as a hybrid didn’t have the range anxieties of milk-floaty plug-in electric cars, attracting complaints now about how costly they are to top-up. Apparently charging stations take money by the hour, without knowing how much electricity is actually being used. The cost can be just as much for a battery flat or near full.

I have said before that there is a FIFA flavour about Car of the Year. In 50 years COTY has never elected a Jaguar, Range Rover or Land Rover. It can’t be anti-British-ness. Munich doesn’t come off well either. There has been no BMW; a range that goes from Rolls-Royce to Mini has never made the grade except for second last year for the i3. It elected an electric Nissan yet COTY doesn’t do safety. Volvo and Saab never featured. Engineering excellence? Bentley has never made it. Production quality? There have been no Hondas. Value for money? No Skodas, no Seats but 9 Fiats, 6 Renaults and 5 Fords. I can’t understand why manufacturers get so excited by it.

Gentlemen ran Jaguar

Sir Nick Scheele, who died last week aged 70, was in the purest image of Sir William Lyons, Lofty England and top men at Jaguar. Accessible, well-mannered and businesslike, their style was reflected in the public relations executives who were their links, Bob Berry, Andrew Whyte, David Boole and Joe Greenwell. Scheele, graduate of Durham, multi-lingual, urbane started with Ford in 1966 and after a distinguished career became chairman at Jaguar in 1992. He persuaded Ford to resuscitate the old Escort factory at Halewood to manufacture the Jaguar X-type. It now thrives exporting Range Rover Evoques. Rising through the office side of the Ford organization, Sir Nicholas Vernon "Nick" Scheele KCMG according to one obituary had the debonair poise of an actor, combined with “a backbone of stainless steel”. He was one of the industry’s most articulate spokesmen.
In 1994 Scheele challenged Coventry raise £400,000 to build, equip and run a new place for the NSPCC. To help child abuse victims and celebrate 100 years of the charity, the money set up Boole House in Whitefriars Street, named after David Boole who worked tirelessly on behalf of the appeal and died only days after fundraisers reached their target.

Boole may not have had quite the charisma of Jaguar racer Bob Berry, nor the great historical knowledge of Andrew Whyte, who researched and wrote some of the best books ever on Jaguar. But acutely aware of Jaguar heritage he agreed to buy into Dove Publishing’s Jaguar File. There was no formal agreement beyond a handshake, no correspondence; he died as work on the book began. Joe Greenwell took over his responsibilities, accepted our word and Jaguar got its book. It went into three editions, many reprints and is now, revised and updated, going digital. Greenwell became CEO at Ford in Britain and commissioned editions of The Ford File.

Sir Nick came to the press launch of The Jaguar File at Stratstone in Mayfair with Greenwell (left), Eric Dymock and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu on the right. Michael Kemp of the Daily Mail lurks behind looking, as ever, for a story.

Casimir Brau’s Panthère. MG’s Tigress. Jaguar’s jaguar

Jaguar’s leaping jaguar was not always a jaguar. It is third from bottom right in the 1925 catalogue of French sculptor Casimir Brau who describes it as a Panthère. In 1930 it appeared at the Olympia motor show in 1930 on an MG — as a tiger. Five years later SS Cars’ founder William Lyons instructed Bill Rankin, his publicity chief, to commission a mascot to go with his cars’ new name, Jaguar.

Brau’s 300 Franc mascots are now collectors’ items (below). Survivors auctioned by Sotheby’s in the 1990s went for upwards of £500. By 2010-2011 Brau originals sold by Bonhams as “Leaping Jaguar, circa 1925, retailed by Hermes, Paris, signed, nickel silvered bronze, 8¼ins long, on a wooden display base,” were going for £4400.

The link from Panthère to Tigress may have been Frederick Gordon-Crosby, a sculptor and artist whose work appeared in The Autocar and who was a close friend of Cecil Kimber, general manager of MG. One appears on Kimber’s desk as a paperweight in this official portrait, taken in 1933.

Michael Gordon-Crosby, the artist’s son, suspects that Kimber’s Brau statuette inspired the mascot on the 18/80 special edition Mark III (see below) that Kimber wanted to call the Tigress. A magnificent 2.5litre, six-cylinder car, it almost matched a Bentley in grandeur. Crosby liked the leaping animal so much he even had one on his own 18/80 saloon’s radiator cap. Only five Tigress MGs were made and probably only a handful of mascots, one of which was presented to author and MG historian the late Wilson McComb, from colleagues at Abingdon in 1969.

Lyons wanted to add a fast bird or animal to SS. The name may have stemmed from Standard Swallow; the SS1 was effectively a Swallow-bodied Standard Sixteen. It might have meant Standard Special since much of it was made by the Standard Motor Company. George Brough, who made Brough Superior SS80 and SS100 motorcycles, claimed he had thought of it first but it seems more than likely SS was coined from the great ocean liners of the 1920s and 1930s, like SS Mauretania, Majestic or Aquitania.

Armstrong Siddeley had used Jaguar on an aero engine but managing director Sir Frank Spriggs had discarded it and happily consigned it to SS cars. S.S. Jaguar had a ring to it and the following year even the full-points were omitted, “As the letters no longer stand for anything,” much as M.G. had once meant Morris Garages and long before the Schutzstaffel (protection patrol) Nazi police meant anything.

An accessory company produced a bonnet motif he disliked so Lyons asked Rankin to come up with something suitable. Rankin approached Gordon-Crosby and SS Jaguar’s jaguar was identical in almost every respect to the MG tiger (or tigress), save its back paws. On the Jaguar version they are tucked up behind. MG’s had them extended,

Whether Lyons and Rankin knew anything about history of the mascot scarcely matters. I approached Jaguar in 1992 about this sidebar to company folklore. Its spokesman the late David Boole was unabashed. He solemnly denied tigress and panther antecedents. “Our ‘leaper’ is an anatomically correct jaguar”.

Actively exhausting

Who now remembers basso profundo Triumph TR2s? At about 2,400rpm, as I recall, they made a deep crisp booming noise which, if you got it to coincide with a low bridge or a long retaining wall reverberated beautifully. You can scarcely imagine Canley engineers solemnly conspiring to provide it – maybe they did – but it was always tempting to accelerate in second or third gear to achieve the delightful crackle. This, you felt, was a sports car. Anybody overhearing must love it.
Well, they probably didn’t. They probably thought it was just a noisy car but aged 19 or 20 it didn’t occur to you that anybody could dislike it. They might as well not like Beethoven. Or the Beatles. TR2s weren’t very fast; 0 to 60 in 11sec and 105 or so mph, but they felt fast.One TR I knew well, (left) Ian Brown’s, OVD 888 on a Scottish Rally.
It’s different now. I don’t like noisy cars as much, but I have to make an exception for the F-type Jaguar. Engines nowadays are so muffled and de-toxed that crisp crackling exhausts are pretty well outlawed. The racket that thrills motor race spectators has been muted, so in an almost wholly successful effort to restore what was regarded as an essential feature of a sports car, Jaguar has what it calls an active exhaust system. Electronically controlled valves in it open to what Autocar described as their angry position, under hard acceleration or when the driver selects Dynamic on the touchscreen. A satanic roar, the testers said, at 4500rpm and a very lovely scream between 5000rpm and the red line.
Jaguar F-type. Silent when stopped.

Active Exhaust is reinventing what young “scorchers” had in the 1920s. Cut-outs enabled drivers to by-pass silencers at the touch of a switch or a lever, reducing back-pressure and squeezing out a few more precious horsepower for overtaking. Or simply making more noise. Jaguar doesn’t claim any extra bhp from “active” exhausts but it sounds magnificent. And you don’t need a low bridge to get the best out of it. TR2 rev counter on the right


Mini, McLaren, Jaguar and Range Rover are easy leaders in Autocar’s list of Britain’s best-ever 100 cars. I’ve no problem endorsing the first couple of dozen but, notwithstanding Gordon Murray’s ingenious contribution, the Yamaha Motiv.e at 5 looks like lip-service to greenery-yallery. The Jaguar XJ220 also poses a question. It was neither a commercial nor technical success and needed a lot of fettling before it reached reality. Driving it was like looking at the world through a letterbox. The Aston Martins in the list are an odd bunch with no ground-breaking DB2, elegant DBS or Ian Callum DB7. Similarly it’s difficult to include a D-type Jaguar – OK on the Mulsanne straight but a bit of a handful on corners – and leave out the C-type which was more precise and exciting.
McLaren F1 (above): Collected daughter Joanna from school during my road test. She’s older now, still beautiful.
Austin-Healey Sprite. 71st. This was my second one at Turnberry. Wonderfully crisp, precise car.
Lotuses are questionable on grounds of quality and reliability but I’m surprised there is no Elan Plus2S. It was beautifully proportioned. I once did 300 miles in three hours with one. There you are the older I get the faster I was. I would not include any TVR; all I drove were just brute force and ignorance. Blower Bentleys were something of an aberration. I suppose they were glamorous but never won anything like the unsupercharged cars. Derby Bentleys are missing from the list. Surely the Silent Sports Car deserves better. Jensen-Healey – delete. Not well made, hastily modified and really quite dull. Same goes for the Daimler Dart SP250. The Edward Turner engine was ok but Daimler was so strapped for cash it had to cobble up a horrid plastic body that creaked and cracked.
One of my first drives in an E-type; Scottish Motor Show after introduction at Geneva in 1961 (below), with Jaguar apprentice Clive Martin.
No Bristols please. Except for the BMW-based 400 and the beautiful 404 they were heavy and lugubrious. I never went for the mystique so assiduously promoted by writers like the matchless Leonard Setright. Triumph Stag? I thought it was rubbish when I went on the press launch. Hillman Imp? I owned one and when it went it was OK; I drove it to Maranello where I had lunch with Enzo Ferrari, but it was not made very well. Same goes for any Avenger, even the Avenger Tiger. The press launch was on Malta where we couldn’t drive them far enough to grow suspicious of unreliability. The Morgan 3 wheeler or Plus 4 were fine, but the Plus 8 was where Morgan began to lose its way and power outstripped handling. I wouldn’t include a Delorean in any list except perhaps one on how not to develop a sports car. It was terrible. Reliant Scimitar? A definite maybe. Triumph TR5 - not bad until they put a wiggly independent back-end on making it pitch and curtsy. Triumph 1300 absolutely not. And why relegate the MGA to 95th? Shame
Range Rover. Deserves its place. Took this on the press launch by Goonhilly Down, 1970.

Love lists
Hillman Imp. On road test for The Motor with Penny Duckworth by door. Pre-launch picture so badges taped over.

100.Range Rover Evoque 99. Ginetta G40R 98. Vauxhall Astra 97. Marcos TSO 96. Honda Civic 95. MGA 94. Vauxhall Chevette HSR 93. Triumph Dolomite Sprint 92. Allard J2 91. Honda Jazz 90. Sunbeam Tiger 89. Nissan Juke 88. Invicta Black Prince 87. Noble M12 86. Lotus Carlton 85. Caterham Seven 160 84. Caparo T1 83. Rolls-Royce 10 HP 82. Triumph TR5 PI 81. Radical RXC 80. Triumph 1300 79. Daimler SP250 Dart 78. Morgan 4/4 77. Renault Megane RS 225 76. Noble M600 75. Lotus Sunbeam 74. Morgan Plus 8 73. BAC Mono 72. Gordon-Keeble 71. Austin-Healey Sprite 70. MGB GT 69. Bristol Fighter 68. Ford Cortina 1600E 67. Bowler EXR 66. AC Ace 65. Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 64. Austin FX4 63. Napier-Railton 62. Caterham Supersport 61. Triumph 2000 60. Jaguar F-type 59. Morgan 3-wheeler 58. Reliant Scimitar 57. TVR Sagaris 56. Ford Escort RS2000 55. Bentley Continental GT 54. Ford Capri RS3100 53. Delorean DMC-12 52. Aston Martin V8 51. Ascari KZ1 50. Aston Martin V12 Vantage S 49. Subaru Impreza WRC 48. Hillman Avenger Tiger 47. Triumph Stag 46. Hillman Imp 45. Lister Storm 44. Rover P5B 43. Lotus Evora 42. Rover P6 3500S 41. Nissan Qashqai 40. Ariel Atom 39. Vauxhall Prince Henry 38. Aston Martin One-77 37. Rover 75 36. Jaguar XJ 35. Austin Seven 34. Bristol Blenheim 33. Lotus Cortina 32. Austin-Healey 3000 31. Aston Martin Vanquish 30. Lotus Seven 29. Land Rover 28. Jensen-Healey 27. Lotus Esprit 26. MG Midget 25. McLaren 12C 24. Morris Minor 23. Lotus Elan 22. TVR Speed 12 21. Rover SD1 20. TVR Chimaera 19. BMW Mini 18. Bentley Blower 17. Jaguar XF 16. Ford GT40 15. Rolls-Royce Phantom 14. Lotus Elise 13. Jaguar D-type 12. Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 11. Jensen FF 10. Ford Escort Mexico 9. TVR Griffith 8. Aston Martin DB5 7. Jaguar XJ220 6. McLaren P1 5. Yamaha MOTIV.e 4. Range Rover 3. Jaguar E-type 2. McLaren F1 1. original Mini

Works Austin-Healey 3000 rally car test. I am the fresh-faced youth.

Jaguar R-Coupe

Richard Bremner was right. In his astute and entertaining Autocar column, THEY WERE THE FUTURE, ONCE, on September 4 2013 he wrote:
Bold R-Coupe had XK150 grille

A dozen years ago, Jaguar was a maker of new old cars for middle-aged men occupying the verdantly gardened mid-century detached homes of Warwickshire. Many worked for Jaguar itself. They drove little and large X-type and XJ throwbacks to the 1968 XJ6, visually troubled S-types or XK8s redolent of E-types but missing the original’s delicacy and drama. Jaguar needed to break from its past, and slowly, sometimes painfully, it has. And no more completely than with today’s boldly original XJ. Yet the car that triggered the big cat’s escape from the formaldehyde world has almost been forgotten.
Jaguar concept cars were once rarer than back-to-back Browns Lane profits and were more likely to be produced by design houses than Coventry. The XK180 and the F-type changed that, their debuts at last century’s end a prelude to a failed attempt at a production F-type. But these two were worryingly retro, despite their voluptuous details.
1998 XK180 with epitome of Jaguar heritage, a long-nosed tailfinned D-type

The 2001 R-Coupe, on the other hand, boldly launched forward. True, it had the Mk2 ‘mouth eating a banana’ grille, its long-bonnet short-tail proportions referenced the XK120 and it carried enough wood and leather to furnish a Regency drawing room. But this was no antique Jaguar.
The R-Coupe’s cabin was as on the money as London’s Met bar and just as desirable to occupy. Rich, smooth-contoured wood swept along the lower reaches of the doors and as deep-walled central console, while crisply-seamed leather sheathed curve-topped bucket seats redolent of an early E-type’s and the dash was packed with a battery of enticingly silvered instruments. More arresting still was a floor surfaced with the same pale blonde Connolly leather that upholstered the seats. This was the Jaguar cabin gone modern, but one still lightly tethered to a past that the company’s managers could just about feel comfortable with.
Crisp, clean, 2000 F-type concept
They also felt eased by the back-catalogued echoes of the R-Coupe’s crisply sculpted contours. The fuselage-like section of its body sides, the voluptuous bunching of the bonnet over its quarter of headlights, the shallow glasshouse and the full-length waistline crease were all to be found on Jaguars past. So was there something really new in this concept? There was. The bold air vents flanking its grille, a dynamic wide-tracked stance, 21-inch alloys, the subtle air vents in the front wings and its confident, untroubled sweeps of surface and form have characterised Jaguars since.
Yet at its 2001 Frankfurt show debut there were plenty who didn’t know quite what to make of the R-Coupe. It was less dramatic than the XK180 and the F-type, it was far from wildly futuristic and many were surprised to see the S-type’s grille. But there’s something about the elegantly contained muscle, its carefully teased proportions and confidently spare jewellery that appealed then and still does now. The R-Coupe made a fine start on a slow-burning revolution - and it’s still playing out today.
Bold, subtle, four headlamp R-Coupe

Richard was right about the 2001 R-Coupe concept being an unsung hero of the Jaguar revolution. What follows is the entry in my Jaguar ebook.
No Jaguar – no car ever – quite matched the E-type. UK stamp immortalised.

Jaguar celebrated the centenary of Sir William Lyons’ birth on September 4 2001, and a week later showed a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show illustrating how Jaguar design might develop. The Frankfurt car was never going to be a production reality, it was scarcely even a running prototype yet several of its features emerged later. Built in six months, it had no engine and only rudimentary S-type suspension and was not based on any current or proposed Jaguar, but had been “constructed round a realistic 4-seater package and a V8 powertrain.” Its flights of fancy included F1-style paddle-shift gear changing, headlamp beams that followed the steering, electronic door releases and voice-controlled telematics. A challenge to Jaguar designers, it reflected the company’s aim to shift from a niche manufacturer to a major player in the premium car sector. “It represented a long term vision rather than anything we will see tomorrow,” according to managing director Jonathan Browning. Its styling included a front grille reminiscent of the XK150, and it was the first project to be completed following Ian Callum’s appointment as design director in 1999. He created a 15-strong Advanced Design Studio under Julian Thomson that took the lead in creating the R-Coupe, which was only revealed once it did not figure anywhere in Jaguar’s plans.
2000 F-type had wrap-round window Pewter paintwork, badges of solid silver and a silver-plated grille surround served to emphasise that it was strictly a one-off exercise of the sort that manufacturers prepare as a matter of course, ready to develop into production realities if required. Critical acclaim was not immediate. Automobile Year was disappointed in some respects although: “The overall concept achieved just what Jaguar needed, elegant and distinctive design, exclusive styling with beautiful proportions such as Jaguar always had in the past. Ian Callum has a knack of understanding exclusive design, as he did with Aston Martin.” Jaguar historian Paul Skilleter saw it as: “An enlarged futuristic XJ-S… a generous 2+2 … a lot bigger, 6.35cm (2.5in) longer than an XJ-S, wider by a massive 60.96cm (24in), and 8.89cm (3.5in) taller. Some said they could not have identified the car as a Jaguar if it had not been badged, but they were in a minority. … an endorsement that the R-Coupe is the bold step Ian Callum is convinced is necessary.” And so it proved. It certainly repositioned Jaguar, took it into new territory, and ensured partiality towards retro styling was by no means obsessive
INTRODUCTION September 2001. BODY Coupe; 2-doors, 4-seats. ENGINE V8-cylinders. TRANSMISSION rear wheel drive CHASSIS steel monocoque with subframes; independent suspension by coil springs and unequal length wishbones; anti roll bars; telescopic dampers; hydraulic servo ventilated disc brakes; alloy wheels
DIMENSIONS wheelbase 290.83cm (114.5in); length 492.76cm (194in); width 186.69cm (73.5in); height 134.62cm (53in). EQUIPMENT Ebony macassar wood veneer interior, blonde Connolly hide on seats, deep brown saddle hide elsewhere.
Pale blonde Connolly leather R-Coupe

Classic book

Guild of Motoring Writers on a front line? A handful of founders in 1944 maybe but not many. Road tests can be written under fire from unhappy PRs, readers throw brickbats, but it’s a relatively safe business so long as you choose carefully who to drive with on press launches. Yet Mike Brewer was actually shot at doing an illuminating series on army vehicles in Afghanistan. Bouncy and enthusiastic, his publicist describes Brewer as TVs best-known car dealing expert, and now he has produced a book on buying and selling modern classic cars.

Brewer presents Discovery channel’s Wheeler Dealer series, which has been running for nine years and is shown all over the world. It illustrates what interest there is in classic cars and Brewer’s book is a useful primer. It covers buying, owning, selling, auctions and basics like giving a car a deep clean. “It never ceases to amaze me how little effort people make when it comes to tidying up their cars,” Brewer says. Quite right. I learned it long ago during a brief spell in the rough and tumble of the Glasgow motor trade. “If it’s looking a bit grimy get the engine steam cleaned, and don’t forget the painted areas like the inner wings.” Every motoring writer should have a spell selling cars. What makes people buy can be revealing, and it’s hardly ever understeer or oversteer or how many seconds it takes to 60.

Brewer’s experience in the trade was more successful than mine. See his Tales from the Trade. There is cogent advice on starter classics. He recommends Mark 1 Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva HB - plenty of variants and spares are cheap. I was less convinced about his advocacy of the Triumph Spitfire although he does recommend later ones after 1974.

Sporting classics? MGA yes, Delorean definitely not – terrible car – a dishonest pastiche. Favourite modern classics? VW Beetle – OK. Ford Capri ? Maybe. Lotus Elan? Yes. Jaguar E-type, yes certainly although not the lugubrious V12. And Morgan? OK but probably not the Plus 8, which I always thought over-powered for the frail frame. As for the Citroën DS; well to say the complicated suspension and hydraulics aren’t for the faint-hearted is an understatement. I’d go for something more bullet-proof - an MGB maybe with a Heritage bodyshell – to fend off the Taliban.

Mike Brewer’s The Wheeler Dealer Know How! £16.99 ISBN 978-1-845844-89-9 everything you need to know about buying, preparing and selling collectable cars.
Top: Jaguar E-type. Ford Capri II. My sturdy MGB. Bottom - I tested military vehicles in my Gunner days. 8 (Alma) Field Battery Royal Artillery Daimler Ferret armoured car, like they used to build in what became the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane. That’s me in the turret.

Motor racing history.

Charterhall 1958. Researching revisions to Dove Publishing’s book on Jim Clark, I came across the race programme with his Border Reivers’ entry in the Aston Martin DBR1 (pictured below). It’s at number 14. At number 16 is the Ecurie Ecosse Cooper Monaco and at 27 Barry Filer’s Marcos GT, both to be driven by a mysterious A.N.Other. This was an unsubtle subterfuge for Jackie Stewart to conceal the early stages of his motor racing career. Apprehensive following the injuries Jackie’s brother, Jimmy, sustained at Le Mans in 1954 driving a works Aston Martin their mother forbade racing. Jimmy also inverted a D-type Jaguar at the Nürburgring but his talent was so outstanding that Lofty England wanted him to co-drive with Mike Hawthorn at Le Mans in 1955. In deference to his nervous mother Jimmy turned it down. He would probably have been every bit as good as Jackie, although in retrospect it might have been just as well not to drive at Le Mans in 1955. It was the Hawthorn-Macklin misunderstanding that set off the chain of event that led to the worst accident ever in motor racing. Pictured by me at the hairpin before the Charterhall straight, Jimmy Stewart on left, Graham Birrell also racing at Charterhall, Gordon Hunter Glasgow motor trade entrepreneur, and Jackie in a trendy hat.