And no matter how happy I am when I remember Team Autocar’s third place in the Silverstone 24-hour race in 2008, I can’t shake the memory, a couple of years previously, of driving a Lotus Exige off a road, down a bank and into a bush, perhaps even a small tree, backwards, entirely of my own volition. You live and learn.
But my concern with Jaguar is that the truly memorable stuff – the great stuff – came before the forgettable stuff. And it was all a long time ago.
This is a company whose more recent history with halo ventures hasn’t treated it particularly kindly. I suspect Formula 1 did it fewer favours than the XJ220 supercar in the long run, but you never know.
And even those ‘recent’ ventures – F1 and supercars – weren’t exactly recent. Most recently, it made the C-X75 and then seems to have allowed any opportunity from that to have whooshed past it, too.
There is, I suppose, Jaguar’s upcoming entry into Formula E, but that is, with the best will in the world, still Formula E. And there’s its decision to supply an engine that’ll be used as a fuel pump in Bloodhound SSC, which is quite a nice idea, actually.
But is that enough? Not for me. Because of the Defender Challenge, I suspect there are more contemporary Land Rovers wearing racing numbers than there are modern Jaguars, which, for a company with Jaguar’s heritage (and let’s not forget that it’s keen to tell you about it), is a shame. Its milking of the old only highlights in the absence of the new. Pity. The F-Type looks mega and sounds even better, and it deserves to be seen alongside Aston Martins, Mercedes-AMGs, rear-engined Porsches and mid-engined Ferraris in sports car championships.
I know, I know. Racing is expensive and the returns are – unless you’re Porsche, which makes money from selling racing cars – hard to quantify. But when it comes to Jaguar, I just can’t shake the feeling that, instead of trading on the old legends, it should be busy creating some new ones.