A small area of Frankfurt was transformed into a Jaguar historic event yesterday evening. The area around the newly-rebuilt Palais Thurn Und Taxis was thronged with E-types, most of which seem to have arrived from Switzerland.

In the courtyard of the palace was the usual selection of historic Jaguar competition cars. Inside the Palace itself, the first public unveiling of the new C-X16 concept car was scheduled.

As I wandered through the display, I couldn’t help but reflect on the inherent tensions within Jaguar. One the one hand, this company has the kind of visual and competition heritage that most carmakers would kill for.

On the other hand, a large faction within Jaguar – led by design boss Ian Callum – are trying hard to modernise the brand and get away from constant reference to the past.

Brand boss Adrian Hallmark told the assembled crowd that Jaguar ‘couldn’t go on’ much longer without a ‘true two-seater’ sports car. He said the C-X16 was ‘utterly new, but grounded in the company’s DNA’.

Ian Callum, mindful that the crowd had just made its way through a barricade of classics, said the C-X16 was Jaguar’s first two seater ‘since you know what’.

This car – which Jaguar staffers are still compelled to call a concept even though work is underway on the production car – was, said Callum, ‘designed to re-centre the brand… tension between function and emotion… Jaguar at its purest.’

The C-X16 – there’s been no hint on what the real name will be – is likely to cost between £55,000 and £75,000. With luck, it will both give Jaguar a more modern edge and turn punters on the idea that Jaguar makes cars that handle as well as the best of the opposition.