In Praise of Jaguars
21 November 2012 | Back in Panama
Some of you may remember that we sold our 1990 Jaguar XJS convertible and bought a Panga for about the same price. I guess it is appropriate as a Panga is what we use instead of a car here in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, but a 3 cylinder 50hp outboard is not quite the same as a 5.3 litre V-12 – and the outboard's 4 mpg makes even the Jag's mileage look good. Of course, 4 mpg is actually quite good for a boat, but it cannot match the Jag for acceleration. Any way, it made sense as we were not living in the US and did not need a car there.
Or did we? We plan on about 3 trips back to USA a year, for about a month each time. In the past we have been fortunate enough to borrow my brother's “extra” car. During good weather (the only time we plan to come North) he prefers to drive his Porsche and we could use his Focus. This summer, however, the Porsche was ill and Dave needed to use the Focus. To rent even an econo-car was nearly $1500! We DO need a car in the USA! For what we would pay in a year or two for rentals, we could buy a used car. Since we only plan on visiting in good weather, it could be a fun convertible. And whichever child agreed to keep the car for us when we weren't there could enjoy it as well. We searched about for used convertibles and test drove a variety of cars ranging from an old Mazda RX-7 to a Beemer to a newer Miata. Thinking more deeply about our needs, we realized that what we needed was not so much a sports car as a true Grand Touring machine - something that could take the two of us comfortably and enjoyably over many miles. It needed to be a convertible as we are both addicted to open air cruising, but it needed to be comfortable for longer trips. When we get in the car, it is rarely for less than 100 miles, often longer. It also needed to have room for enough luggage for the trip – something most sports cars are rather short on. In the end we kept coming back to our XJS – if only we hadn't sold it, it would be the perfect car. Extremely comfortable, more than adequate power (as the Brits are wont to say), and real luggage space.
So, we found another. This XJS is a 1992 white convertible. It still has the wonderful V-12, the luxurious Connolly leather seats, a power convertible top that actually seals well, and a huge trunk.
We used it this summer and left it with Curry upon returning to Panama. She enjoyed it a few times, but complained about the cost of gas for it. (If you have to ask what it gets for mileage.....)
Last month we returned to USA to visit family & friends and for both of us to have surgery. In about 4 weeks we put more than 1500 miles on the Jag. It truly was the perfect car. A joy to drive – plenty of acceleration, good handling, very comfortable, and plenty of room. Not to mention style. Everywhere we go, it turns heads and gets comments. The crowning touch came when we drove her to Portland before leaving. My friend, Jack, had offered that we could keep the Jag in the underground parking area at his office – perfect for the winter, so we loaded all our luggage for return to Panama plus luggage for our time in Portland and to leave in Boston with Lucas. In all we had 4 x 50# suitcases to check, two carry-ons, two back packs, and a carry-on to leave in Boston – plus the car cover for leaving the Jag in Portland. It all fit! And, of course, all that weight had absolutely no effect on performance or handling. That is what I call GRAND TOURING! I cannot imagine a better car for our needs.