Jaguar XJS-HE

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.

Next: Maz Merak