The British Motor Museum at Gaydon can trace its own history to the collections held by the various branches of British Leyland and one consequence of that is the cars in the collection and on display are not exclusively production vehicles. The museum has long had a policy of showing also examples of development and concept vehicles of many types, and inviting you to ponder “what might have been”.
So, let’s do just that, starting with the Jaguar Heritage collection. We’ll go through these doors, at least metaphorically.
Jaguar has had some major issues for a long time – being traditional but adapting and effectively competing with less constrained competitors was one of them. One possible response to this was this 1992 XJ40 estate, or as Jaguar termed it, Shooting Break.
There had been efforts at a Jaguar estate previously, but you do sense the success of the Mercedes-Benz 280TE and BMW 5 series Touring tipped Jaguar into actually building a prototype, rather than just drawing one, even if there was no Jaguar estate until 2004.
Another perennial Jaguar issue was how to replace the E Type (XK-E). The XJ-S may have succeeded it but it didn’t replace it most peoples’ eyes. In the eyes of many, the XJ-S was a very different car and not that elegant with it (though it is somehow carrying its age well now) and through the 1980s there were various attempts to recapture that E Type spirit. This one got further than most, as the XJ42 (and XJ41 Targa version) based on the XJ40 (1987 XJ6 saloon) floorpan.
The XJ41 and 42 story is a long and at times slow and painful one, and the car was clearly more of an XJ-S replacement than an E Type replacement. In the event, this car was adapted by Ian Callum for the Aston Martin DB7 around XJS underpinnings, and the Jaguar XK8 replaced the XJ-S. Closer to the E type, but not quite there.
Hence this car – the 2000 Jaguar F Type concept, intended to evoke the spirt also of the 1948 XK120 and C and D Type cars of the 1950s, and perhaps take on the Porsche Boxster. You can just imagine how the British magazines got themselves all worked up on what was a motor show only non-runner.
But, visually, you can see the logic behind the excitement.
Alongside the F Type is the 2003 Jaguar R-D6 concept, shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and was used to promote Jaguar’s new 2.7 litre diesel engine (shared with Ford and Peugeot-Citroen), as well as show some styling ideas from Ian Callum, then fresh in post.
Dare I say, but did this car have more influence than we might immediately think? VW Scirocco, Alfa Romeo Brera and Giulietta? Beyond it is the 2001 R Concept, a take on a luxury four seater in the XJ-C mould.
But perhaps the true style stalemate buster from Jaguar was the 2008 XF, prefaced by the C-XF concept shown at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007. It may looked shocking for a Jaguar but it was contemporary and showed links to history as well.
The grille came from the XJ6, the ridge on the bonnet from the XJ-S, the headlamps on the production car echoed the traditional four round lamps, and the interior had wood and leather but used in new ways. Jaguar was finding a style to move onto, at last.