Today at The Garage I want to share with our readers some ‘behind the scenes’ info about how we go about our business here. I am fortunate to live in the New York City metropolitan area, which means I am close to the companies that manage all of the world’s automobile companies press fleets-the cars you see reviewed here. Normally, these companies drop off and pick up cars right to my door, but there are exceptions. The car I have this week to review for the Garage is a Jaguar XK Convertible, and this evening I made the 75 mile drive to Jaguar/Land Rover’s North American headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey to retrieve the car.
Arriving at Jaguar, perhaps the most shocking sight are the couple dozen brand new XJ’s-a radically different design that I had only just seen at the New York Auto Show a week ago. We will get to that car at a later date, but walking up to the entrance my Liquid Silver XK is pristine, gassed up and ready to go. The Garage has driven the barking mad XKR, so with the “base” XK, I lowered my expectations a bit, expecting a soft tourer. I was wrong, and my misconceptions about the XK disappeared the moment I hit the START button, and the new, 5.0L 385hp V-8 barked to life.
It was a wonderful 75 degrees in Mahwah, so the top went down instantly. A minute to get comfortable in the creamy soft leather seat, a check of the controls, and it’s time to head back to Connecticut. The XK instantly comes off as a luxurious conveyance, but what impressed me the most was this is a bona fide, serious performance car. Ladies and Gentlemen, Jaguar has rediscovered sports cars.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m crossing the Hudson, and arrive to pay the toll for the Tappan Zee Bridge. I’ve been crossing this bridge for 18 years, and not once have I ever gotten anything more than a grunt out of the toll booth attendant. In the XK, I’m engaged in conversation. Go figure. I don’t mind the toll, because now I can do a full-throttle standing start, and the Jag leaps furiously off the line, that V-8 building an addicting crescendo.
Crossing the Connecticut border, I choose the historic and fun to drive (when it’s not rush hour) Merritt Parkway for the last leg of my trip. Known for its many picturesque bridges, I foolishly find myself nailing the throttle every time I approach one just to hear the sounds of that V-8 amplified. Same goes for any New Jersey barriers. You just can’t help yourself.
The end of my trip is unbelievable, and beautiful (as it happened, I thought “My readers will never believe this”). Two miles from my exit, I spot ahead of me two dimly lit taillights. I think to myself “Oh, it must be a classic car.” I catch up, to find in front of me a red Series I Jaguar E-Type! The Gods are smiling on me. The driver pulls into the right lane, and I casually roll up beside him, same speed. What a sight:-E-Type and XK cruising side by side, tops down, middle of the night. Too beautiful for words. With a wave and toot of the horn, I shot off my exit, but I could have followed that Jag all night…