Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Jaguar XK150 is a wonderful passport to 1950s Britain

DRESS up smartly and stick on some sepia-tinted shades, because this week's column comes from the 1950s. I'd tell you to stick your seatbelts on too, but I can't because Jaguar's XK150 doesn't have any.

This week's automotive adventure was supposed to be all about driving an E-Type for the first time, but it isn't because it was actually its older brother which left a far greater impression. The setting is the stunning scenery of the New Forest, where as part of an assignment for Classic Car Weekly we've unleashed three big cats - an E-Type, an XK150 Roadster and a Daimler Double Six, which are all going under the hammer at the Barons Jaguar Heritage Auction this weekend - for a feature.

It is, on the face of it, a windswept moor on a ruddy cold April afternoon, but as soon as I thumbed the XK's starter button, heard that wonderful straight six burst into life and set off I was no longer in a hugely expensive, left hand drive car that isn't mine.

I was in the late 1950s, driving one of the world's fastest and most beautiful sports cars through a bit of Britain unspoilt by speed cameras and people in Nissan Micras. A time when you could legally nail the XK's throttle and turn the countryside into a green blur as you darted along winding lanes between quaint villages full of smiling bobbies on bicycles. A time when people appreciated the XK's finely sculpted lines and the bark of its exhaust note. What the pictures from my first assignment of being a classic car scribe is just unbelievably cold the New Forest was, or that in the absence of Gatso cameras I had some 1950s-style hazards to contend with instead - whenever a cow or a pony decided to wander into the road I was glad it’s these particular Jags which popularized disc brakes!

But I didn’t care, because even with an E-Type and a V12-engined drawing room on wheels competing for my automotive affections it was the XK150 I fell just a little bit in love with. The view down the Jag's bonnet as its curves flowed out into the countryside ahead is something I'll never forget.

In reality it's 2013 of course, and we live in a very different Britain where the Golf BlueMotion we used as the camera car outdid the XK at just about everything. No prizes for guessing which one I'm saving up for, though.

Read the full feature about the Jaguars and more from David Simister in the latest edition of Classic Car Weekly. If you have a motoring story for him call 01733 468847.

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