A few months ago one of my colleagues showed me a picture of the Jaguar F-Type. In case you haven’t heard, it’s the newest model and their return to the 2-seater luxury market. I love Jaguar cars but I never felt old enough to drive one. Until I saw a picture of the F-Type. This beast is a thing of beauty.
So when three weeks ago the same colleague told me that a car magazine was looking for a handful of folks to attend a preview event I threw my name in the hat thinking that my chances were worse than an ice cube in the middle of the Sahara desert. So imagine my surprise when within 15 minutes I got confirmation of my selection! I really should have bought a lottery ticket that day too. Never mind. I requested a day’s leave and started counting the days. The drive up to the meeting location, Castle Bromwich near Birmingham, was about 125 miles from my place and on a good day with a stiff wind behind you the journey would take about 2 hours. Being very keen I allowed for 3 hours… you just never know here. I got there in 2 hours 45 thanks to the M3 being shut down on the day. But I still got there – wild horses couldn’t have kept me away.
When I arrived I was greeted by 9 other fans. The ice was broken when the guys started talking about their cars … we had some Jag owners, a few Porsches, and a Mercedes and then there was me with my Mini. After the laughter died down, a couple admitted to having Minis in their garages _as well_. The lovely folks at Jaguar took us on a factory tour – since the F-Type is still not production ready, we got the XF factory tour. Each car takes a total of 48 hours to be built and once it rolls off the assembly line it goes through another 4 hours of testing. What really amazed me was the amount of electronics in each car (I assume that is the case for most cars nowadays). I think our guide mentioned that each car had 1.5 miles worth of cables in it.
We then were taken back to the briefing center for a delicious lunch and finally were guided to the unveiling room. At this point we are all buzzing with excitement. We had had glimpses of the F-Type as we were being driven around the grounds but now was our chance to see it in the flesh so to speak. Ian Callum, the legend behind the gorgeous Aston Martin cars and now with Jaguar, was on hand for the unveiling and shared a few stories about how his team designed this beautiful car. It was clear that he lived and breathed design … it’s lovely to meet folks who have so much passion for what they do. It is truly inspiring. Anyway, he mentioned how he was keen on having the hood (bonnet) curve at a certain angle but the engine was in the way. If I remember my numbers correctly, it took the design and the engineering teams about 3 months to lower the engine 13 mm to accommodate the curve. I can’t even imagine how much that effort had cost the company but when you see the car you understand that it was worth every one of those hours.
We also got to meet Ian Hoban, the product director responsible for taking Mr. Callum’s design and making it a reality. He mentioned that this car was a product of 4+ years of his life. After I got a chance to sit in the car and play with the gadgets, I had a quick chat with Mr. Hoban. I sheepishly said I never thought I was old enough to drive a Jaguar and that the F-Type is the first Jag that I’d see myself driving. He looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes and said then he’s accomplished his goal.
I know this post has nothing to do with ROI or CFD. But it has everything to do with my admiration of engineers and the effort it takes to build pretty much anything. You sweat the details for years and I as the consumer get to enjoy the end product never knowing your sweat equity. While I didn’t get a chance to actually drive the car (none of us were allowed since the car is preproduction) they did bring over a road-ready V8 and let us listen to the engine growl (yes it doesn’t purr, it growls). I so look forward to seeing/hearing it out on the road and one day, yes one day, I will own one. In the meantime, thanks Jaguar engineers for giving me something really nice to daydream about.
Until next time,