To Solihull, by Ferrari, for the official welcome of the Jaguar marque to the famous Lode Lane plant that has been known, since 1948, as the Home of Land Rover. In future, aluminium bodies for Jaguar’s XE and F-Pace will be made in a magnificent new Solihull body plant before joining the Range Rover Sport on a similarly up-to-the-minute final assembly plant.
After some speeches, the company stopped operations so the whole workforce of 9000 people could line the roads of the plant to watch a cavalcade of 50-odd Jags from all eras, led by a Jaguar SS100, in which your humble servant was a passenger. It was a great moment, missing only the presence of Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth, who was visiting principals of the Tata Group (JLR’s owner) in Mumbai. Speth always shrinks from compliments about his achievements, but this sight would have made him proud.
Out of the Ferrari FF today (it’s busy) and into a Volkswagen Up Club, a move those who don’t care about cars as much as you and me would dismiss as a come-down. But it isn’t. The Up may be a few years old, but it remains a phenomenon among cars, a machine that beautifully expresses the virtues of smallness (agility, light controls, great visibility, amazing fuel economy, ease in traffic) and concedes very little to much bigger cars in refinement and comfort. Supercars are wonderful, not least because their creators have money to burn. But if you really want to witness and enjoy the resourcefulness and skill of the modern motor industry, start with an Up.