THE WINTER CAR
I've been trying to think of a second project I can run alongside the Barchetta for some time now, and I've decided on one. The Jaguar XJ. As with the Barchetta, I'll be selling conversion kits but will build a show car to make the point.
Specifically I'm aiming at the X350 and X358 XJ. This is the car with the spiffy aluminium platform which it largely shares with the X150 XK sports/GT car and the more modern X351, making another car a strong possibility. The conversion will obviously replace mechanical components which are shared with many other Jaguars so it is very likely that we will be able to successfully experiment with other models.
I would like to say a word about my being disrespectful to existing enthusiasts who believe that a Jaguar should roar, and that all this electric car nonsense will go away and we'll return to poisoning children. My impertinence is entirely intentional. I don't care what they think. Personal transportation is more important now than ever before, and the technology is only going in one direction. Battery-powered electric vehicles.
Jaguar has a reputation, partially maintained by the ease of generalising about those who drive them, of being a class indicator. Jaguars are driven at one end of their lives by independent businessmen who struggle to maintain them between sales of Hungarian cigarettes by the gross, and at the other by brass-buttoned suburban committee members who can swallow large maintenance bills by exploiting the workers.
Are we to deify those living on their wits, or those living on the sweat of others? I plan to deify the former, or at least get some people to do it for me.
My Jaguars will be subversive. I have chosen a trademark and will tell you all about it when the copyright is secure.
My models for this will be the two greatest Englishmen ever to have bitten into a sandwich: Mr. Terry-Thomas and Mr. Ian Dury. I will build the car that David Niven would drive in Los Angeles, but wouldn't go within telephoto range of in London. Mr Dury once described the concept perfectly in the title of his album, New Boots and Panties, which eludes to his fondness for tailored second-hand clothes while making sure intimate apparel is exclusively his biochemistry.
"See my tailor, he's called Simon, I know it's going to fit"
Due to my pathological need to be unusual I have described some of the inspiration behind the car's specifications in a short story called The Colonel, but allow me to be more specific.
The car will be as silent as a nun's fart. It will be refuelled without cost to the owner wherever there's an unguarded power point. It will be faster than your car. It will feature a Lexus 450h gearbox, a Zombieverter from the Open Inverter Project, and as many batteries as I can cram in. I know it can be done because Artur Kustusch has already done it. I can see myself buying him a drink or two.
The most immediately noticeable feature of my car will be the wheels. Growing-up in 70s England I learned that the best wheels where Wolfrace slot-mags. They were everywhere, or at least everywhere a car had to be improved, or made different. In a world of pressed-steel, spot-welded mediocrity a set of wolfies made a car more London. Unfortunately they don't make them anymore. Fortunately these people do.
Moving inside the car, I've often been impressed by the way recent Aston Martins have shown a sequence of words on the display when the car is started.
"Power, Beauty, Soul"
I have, honest. I like it so much I've decided to do my own version. Instead of the wistful poetry employed by the above manufacturer of SUVs and luxury apartments I have decided that the car will pay homage to the poetry of the aforementioned Mr Ian Dury by showing the first few words of his love song to East London women, Plaistow Patricia.
There will be an onboard library between the rear footwells featuring selected works of the greatest authors in the English language; Stephen Potter, Kyril Bonfiglioli, P.G. Wodehouse, Leslie Charteris, all presented in hardback, bound in the skin of a young man who thought his rugby song was more important than The Colonel's words of admiration to the chap's girlfriend. It will be possible to live in this car; further details are to be found in the story.
In addition to the obvious utility of being able to rely on this car for shelter and nourishment, it will also be a suitable venue for revelry. Following-on from the description in the story as to why, I will add how. There is no sensible way to incorporate a full-sized refrigerator into the interior, a small one could be secured in the boot and reached via the armrest. While it really isn't a bother to pour spirits from a bottle, there are certainly times when a sequence of pumps and dispensers would add both theatre and utility.
In addition to obvious methods of document storage, I would like to add a small printer, which will add a little theatre to demonstrations of the car's capabilities when a contract can be suddenly produced bearing the name of the person viewing the demonstration.
The crowning glory will be the permanent music library, honestly acquired, featuring the works of those Britains who have made this country great. Mr. Dury, The Fratellis, The Kinks, The Who, Mr. Weller, Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer and Mr. Stanshall.
The privileged have earned neither respect, nor scorn. I'm merely taking the piss.
We go into the future with no vested interest in the past
"Here's a little bit of advice, you're quite welcome, it is free
Don't do nothing that is cut-price, you'll know what they'll make you be
They will try their tricky device, trap you with the ordinary
Get your teeth into a small slice, the cake of liberty"
Ian Dury (1942-2000)