In the summer of ’81 I got divorced and decided I needed to change my image. Gone was the 4 door Mercedes 300SD family car, and since I was now single I wanted a sportier car. I was still commuting to NYC occasionally.
Jag had released the XJS-HE, which was much better that the previous XJS version. It still had the 5.3 litre V-12, but the mileage and acceleration was much improved. I needed a new car, so I test drove one. The Jag was incredibly smooth. On my test drive I found myself driving at 90, when I thought we were going about 55. I bought the car immediately. Something about the smoothness of a V-12 engine. The interior was dead quiet. No noise entered the cabin, either from the engine or the road. You almost could not tell the engine was running.
One day I took my new girlfriend, Anne, for a drive. She asked me if she could drive, and I thought to myself, “What could go wrong? It’s an automatic.”
She told me she had learned to drive stick shift in a VW bug she had in college. So we are cruising on the turnpike, doing about 60, when she asks innocently “Whats the best way to pass a car, fast?”
“You can step on the detent in the accelerator, or you could slide the gear lever from D to 3, that’ll downshift.” I answered.
She then proceed to jam the gear lever from D to R.
“Aaahhgr!!” I cried!
Instantly I grabbed the gear lever and threw it back to D! I could not believe what she had done! I expected the engine to seize, crunch gear sprockets, or somehow to have blown the tranny. I also could not believe that the Jag could actually go from D to reverse, while going 60 on the highway. That it would not have some kind of physical lock to prevent this from happening.
Somehow the Jag seemed to have survived. I drove back very carefully, at 55 mph, trying to listen to the engine, which miraculously was still smooth and noiseless.
By this time I had accumulated a couple of speeding tickets, which were annoying because I wasn’t trying to speed! The bloody Jag was too smooth. It was like a magic carpet. You could be going 35 in town and if you weren’t paying attention you would be at 60 or 70 by the next light. If I was going to speed, I wanted to do it on purpose, feeling the power and the noise of the engine. The biggest problem with this car was that it was boring.
I eventually married that girl, but never let her drive any of my sport cars again. Because we now lived in Silvermine, Ct, she needed a small car for herself, so I bought a Renault Fuego for her.
The Fuego served it’s purpose of getting around the village etc. One day when I drove the Fuego I found the brakes really soft and was worried they wouldn’t stop the vehicle. It was time to get her a new car.