Rumours of the imminent appearance of the Jaguar F-type have been punctuating headlines of car magazines for at least the last 25 years. And it’s true that back in the 1980s Jaguar got the F-type (or XJ41 as it was known internally) very close to production.
And if you want an idea of what it would have been like, look at the Aston DB7: when Ford bought Jaguar at the end of the decade and canned the overdue and overweight XJ41, many elements of it (including its XJ-S underpinnings) were nevertheless saved for the benefit of the car that would go on to save Aston Martin.
I know no better than you where on the scale from far-off possibility to green-light project the recent rumblings currently sit. But I do think that a smaller, lighter more affordable and sporting coupe/convertible is exactly the car that Jaguar needs.
It is now widely accepted that Jaguar has no future as a volume manufacturer, the experiment to rival BMW, Audi and Mercedes in this regard clearly failed quite spectacularly. But Jaguar made its name producing beautiful, fun and, above all, affordable sporting cars, and after the XK and XF I don’t doubt Jaguar’s ability to design and engineer such a car.
There is also an interesting analogy with what happened at Porsche in the mid 1990s. Now that Porsche controls the largest car company in Europe it’s easy to forget that, 15 years ago, most credible commentators doubted the then troubled marque’s ability to survive in independent ownership.
It was the small, affordable Boxster that set the course for its future glories, thanks in no small part to a platform that also begat the 911 which made Porsche a whole heap of cash.
No, the two brands are not the same, but it is an interesting precedent. Car companies so often forget what made them great in the first place, but when they remember, bad things rarely result.
Just as the Boxster was very much a modern-day 356, the Lotus Elise a modern Elan, and the DB7 a modern DB4, so a modern F-type could get people more enthused about Jaguar than at any time since the launch of the E-type which, quite frighteningly, is now just a couple of years short of being half a century ago.