Karen’s First Sports Car: Jaguar XKR

By Karen

I used to be very conservative with cars; they were a means to get reliably from A to B. Think Honda, Audi, BMW…. then I met SSO. One day, early this century, I told SSO that I loved the Jag XKR convertible but I could not get my head around spending that much on a car. We discussed the pros and cons of getting one, he used his well honed man-math skills on me and a week later we bought my first sports car. It was a supercar to me but not quite in his supercar league (SSO had actually owned a Jaguar XKR many years ago for about a year).

My big Jag was navy blue with a black soft-top and ivory interior. Elegant but understated. The boot fit a Fortum & Mason picnic basket perfectly but not much else. I am not sure what the back seat was meant for. You could fit one medium size child sideways but only if the roof was down. And roof was almost always down unless it was pouring hard, very hard.

I drove my Jag everywhere, all the time. It was my daily driver for 8 years. Every morning when I left Cliveden House after my swim for the drive to work, it was almost always top down as I used the big V8 to dry my long hair as I cruised down the M4. In the winter, I got a lot of strange looks cruising along with the roof down; but I had my fur hair band, fur shawl, and the heated seats on. The only downside was when it snowed. The rear wheel drive XKR was not long on traction and I would go slip sliding away down the long driveway. As snow rarely accumulates in England, once you were on the highway, the road was normally clear again. I was in heaven and I absolutely loved that car!

Thank goodness for the extended warranty. I think over the multiple years I owned it, nearly everything had to be replaced at one time or another. The gearbox, the electronic roof mechanism (that was fun when it stopped working half way up as I was pulling out of a parking lot), the cooling system, alternator, basically everything except the engine gave up the ghost at one time or the other. My local Jaguar dealer was great though. They would pick up the XKR from the office and drop it back off. For the bigger jobs, they loaned me a car which in the UK inevitably was a standard. Prior to this, the last time I drove a stick was 20 years ago. No worries, bunny-hopping down Brompton Road in London was only embarrassing for our son. I could have caredless. Despite all the drama, l loved that car.

When we left the UK, one of the hardest things I had to do was part with my Jag. We sold it to a friend of ours, so I felt better knowing it would continue to be loved. Even today when I see a Jaguar XKR drive by, I always turn my head to get a good look. It will always be my first sportscar love.

SSO moved me onwards and upwards when we came to the US. We replaced the Jaguar XKR with a Maserati Granturismo Cabrio (GranCabrio in the UK) with the exact aesthetics (navy blue exterior, black soft top and ivory leather interior). The back seat area is slightly larger, and you can actually fit two adults back there in some comfort. We did find out one time that in light rain storms, with the roof down, while it stays nice and dry in front, the rear seat passangers get a nice water facile. The only challenge here is to enjoy the convertible year-round. It get so hot from June through September that you can’t put the roof down without risking a well done cranium. I still love it though, it sounds great, handles well, and always makes me feel special behind its wheel.

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June 2018

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