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Farewell, my lovely Jag - Roderick Gilchrist

Blog | By Roderick Gilchrist | Aug 03, 2023

Picture by Jakub "Flyz1" Maciejewski

At what age is it age appropriate to uncouple from the decades younger Fast Lady you have loved for more than twenty years?

While the voluptuous body is still in showroom condition the mirror reveals time has not been so kind to me.

My model has remained beautiful, still attracts admiring glances, while I’m beginning to sense the pitying looks of a senior trying to relive his youth with such a curvaceous beauty.

Sadly for the sake of dignity it's time for us to part.

Forgive my flirtatious amourisms but I love my my British racing green two seater, Jaguar XK8 as much as I did when I first saw her in the late nineties.

Its four litre petrol engine pumping out tons of vroom vroom always was a head turner; the long bonnet pointed at the horizon like a torpedo, willing me to to test its promise of reaching nought to sixty in the blink of an eye.

Faster, faster, it always seems to say. Such an exciting if demanding mistress.

Sadly though she’s become high maintenance, just twenty miles to the gallon, new parts difficult to source, and is branded a polluter by the Mayor of London who demands £12 every time I take this big cat out of the garage.

With 20mph limit on most of the capital's roads , cameras and speed cops behind every bush on the open Highway, unleashing all that fuel injection is no longer a sensible option. I could paper my bedroom with speeding tickets.

I was convinced I’d have no problem selling the Jag, finding her a new younger owner who would cherish her as much as I have and for a price. She’d cost £57,000 new and even allowing for depreciation must still be worth a few bob..

Eco cars may be fashionable but the XK8 is a British classic, a worthy inheritor to the E Type, greatest bird-puller of all time, especially today when all modern cars look so anonymous, as if they have come out of a jelly mould somewhere in Germany.

I’d only ever part exchanged cars for new before which involves the dealer giving you a higher price than list for your old car in order to sell an expensive new model,

This time though I was made to feel I was punting an old banger. Arthur Daley lives.

I’d been seduced by those adverts on television fronted by the Daytime presenter Philip Schofield for We buy Any Car, which made a sale look like a party with delighted punters joyously throwing their cheques with lots of zeros on the end in the air in ecstasy. Hah!

The nearest We buy Any Car site to me is a portakabin in a dystopian bunker under Chelsea and Kensington Town Hall where a harassed Herbert told me I could forget the £2,500 the website promised my thoroughbred was worth.

He examined the Jag like a forensic detective.

“I dont like that,” the Herbert said as if he had smelt something unpleasant..

“What’s wrong?”

“Rust under the wheel arches mate. Could be a lot of decay there. Might need welding. Expensive business welding.”

Tut tutting followed. “See these wheel rims? Badly scuffed.You must have hit a kerb or two my old China. Naughty. Knocks the price down.”

He managed to find scratches on the coach work, invisible to the naked eye. “Battery's knackered too.”

The Herbert offered £1800 tops. “You can't shift old petrol motors these days in eco mad London.This will go straight to auction for spare parts.”

Undeterred I thumbed through Classic Sports Car Magazine its glossy pages filled with classic cars at agreeable prices. So why not try one of the dealers specialising in high powered yesteryear beauties.

A polite sounding chap from genteel Weybridge said he would call at my home the next day. This was more like it. House calls.

“Mmm,” he murmured after giving my Jag the once over. “Best I can offer is £500”.I demured . “Of course you could have it in cash. Trouble is wrong colour. No one wants British Racing Green. Now if it was metallic...”

Later passing a roadside showroom outside Hazlemere I went through my sales patter again. Classic model...immac...always garaged...new gearbox, new engine, new air con unit..C player and tape deck...lovely runner...”

The showroom brimmed with newly cleaned Aston Martin’s, E Types,and Triumph TR4s. Good omen it seemed.

Another quick perusal. “£1500,” the salesman said as if doing me a great favour. We could leave it as is and put it in the forecourt for £3000 or get rid of the rust and any other problems, a full valet and give it a sticker price of £5000. Interested?”

There was just one last showroom to try in Fulham,very much Arthur Daley’s manor.

“Yeah we’ll put it on our forecourt,”the man in the sheepskin coat said sensing a mug punter. “The deal is we take the first £1500 of any sale and you get whats left”.

Anne Robinson recently amused Oldie readers with her trials of buying a new Audi (Cars Drive Me Crazy (April 2023).Anne clearly viewed cars the way most women do, merely as a means of getting from A to B in comfort and safety.

Men see cars as part of their identity. Watch any Top Gear and you’ll get the message.

It my seem fanciful but it's no secret owners of sports cars develop an irrational, possessive relationship with their dream machines. Every blemish has to be repaired instantly.

Perhaps this is because, and without getting all Clarkson fruity, the cockpit is intimate, making the car feel it is wrapped around the driver, encouraging a sense of the, frankly, sensual.

In my racier younger days luminous beauties,Bianca Jagger,Selina Scott, Paula Hamilton,star of the Nineties TV commercial for VW Golf who dumps her Sugar Dadie’s gifts,the mink,the jewellery etc in a dustbin after a row but keeps the car and Alexandra Bastedo, have graced the passenger seat, greatly enhancing the perception of the driver, perhaps misguidedly, in my mind and others too. It’s hard to unpack that baggage.

Eventually my friend Brian from Drayson Motors under the Westway Flyover,found me a dealer,who no haggling,offered £2k, money transferable immediately.He wanted to keep it for himself. It was like finding a good home for a much loved family pet you are forced to have adopted.

Brian collected my Jag from my garage and as I watched him drive it down the news and out of my life I shed a tear. Farewell my lovely and thanks for the memory.