Have you finished sobbing about the death of the Jaguar C-X75? Time to get tearful again. Head to the Coventry Transport Museum and share personal space with the lovely concept car.
It’s part of a brand-new exhibition that showcases some of Jaguar’s greatest historical cars (and an S-Type). It was opened by Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Ralf Speth handing over the very first F-Type off the production line.
In a museum that already has a nice car collection, the new Jaguar exhibit is a show worth seeing.
It’s not just cars but videos and storytelling that takes you through the events around Jaguar’s astonishing timeline. Remember, Jaguar - under the name SS - didn’t starting making cars until 1932. Despite six of the intervening years being lost to the War, by 1949 they’d unveiled the fastest production car in the world, the XK120. And in 1951 the C-Types began winning Le Mans.
Interestingly, alongside the concept for the C-X75 there’s the earlier, almost forgotten F-Type concept from the Detroit show in January 2000. Maybe it’s lucky it was a dead end. Even more than other manufacturers, Jaguar had gotten a bad dose of millennium retro fever. The concept was pretty, but to 2013’s eyes it looks sadly like an E-type that’s run to middle-age spread.
On the museum show’s opening day, Jaguar design director Ian Callum drove the new F-Type onto the stage. Seeing today’s production car alongside that 2000 concept was a salutary reminder that Callum has done the right thing by making his F-type look forward not backward.
Still, there’s a difference between wallowing in nostalgia and celebrating your heritage, and Jaguar wanted to do the celebration thing for the museum exhibition’s opening.
This involved a convoy of historic Jaguar sportscars following the F-Type from the rural Forest of Arden into central Coventry. Top Gear got to steer one of the true treasures, the original prototype D-Type.
The two-seaters ran from a prewar SS100 through the three XKs - 120, 140 and 150 - and then a C, the D and the super-rare, super-cool XKSS, to three stages of E-type evolution. You certainly had enough there to back-up Jaguar’s claim that making fast two-seat sports cars is very much a company freehold.
But then you had an XK-S convertible and an early XK8 convertible. Nice enough cars in their day, but hardly full-on sportsters.
Ah, but we also enjoyed the menacing presence in our convoy of the much-under-rated XJ220. That was a reminder that even in the 1990s, the spirit of a company that was again winning at Le Mans could be translated back to the road.
Quite a snake of cars. Police outriders shut the roads, so we could even do a lap of honour around the Coventry Ringway. It struck us this wouldn’t make a bad oval racing course.
That’s definitely a pipe dream, but the Transport Museum’s real enough. And worth a detour in anyone’s time.