Does it sound barmy, when people are busy punching out pricey, sophisticated and massive V8s and V12s, if I say that one of my favourite engines is Vauxhall’s 99bhp 1.2-litre petrol turbo triple?
If so, I don’t care; I like everything it does. I took what will be one of the last substantial trips in my (triple-powered) Vauxhall Corsa long-termer on Sunday: a 140-mile round trip to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, or rather to the Palace House gardens nearby.
You couldn’t get into the museum, but they had thoughtfully brought out some cars to view and Lord Montagu was greeting people in person – a nice touch. I have a sentimental attachment to this place: my grandfather visited it in 1952, the first year of the original Montagu Motor Museum, while on a big trip from Australia. Years later, he showed me the happy snaps.
My mission to discover the truth about the Williams F1 team and its management’s bid to find a serious new investor led me into a meeting today with deputy team principal Claire Williams, which in turn reminded me of Ms Williams’ numerous achievements (often against a tide of dimwitted ‘social’ criticism) while occupying one of the hottest seats going.
Her determination to find a good outcome for her team – if necessary at the expense of her own position – strikes me as admirable, but for her it’s just part of the task. “I’ve always believed a part of my job is to protect my dad’s legacy,” she told me in the kind of calm voice that only truly determined people can display.
I kicked myself quite a lot later on for not including Williams in my recently published collection of heroes and heroines from past and present. Not sure who I would have left out, but I do know that she richly deserves a place.
Seems Jaguar may be on the point of axing models, starting with the least profitable, which surely means the XE has its head on the block. It’s a saloon (strike one), it’s the lowest-margin Jag (strike two) and it has never been popular, so its residuals could be better (strike three and out). But if the axe does fall, I’ll be sorry.
I’ve had two XEs and viewed them as cheap F-Types, what with their compactness, excellent suspension and steering to die for. I’m seeing low-mile, 25,000-mile two-year-old examples for £25,000, which looks top value.