PAUL WALTON – EDITOR 2000-Jaguar-XK8-4.0 / Jaguar-XK8 / Jaguar / Jaguar-XK8-4.0
With his XK8 finally back on the road, Paul drives it over to Diss, in Norfolk, where he plans to photograph the Banham XJ-SS featured in this issue.
In the same way that I wouldn’t wear my best suit for gardening or my favourite watch for decorating, I rarely use my XK8 for work. And not just because it has been massively unreliable for most of the last year, but mainly due to the amount of miles I need to drive and the often-isolated locations I use. I want to enjoy my car, not spoil it.
However, when Andre Ling from Norfolk-based auctioneers TW Gaze invited me to see the rare Banham XJ-SS that we feature on page 38 of this issue, I decided the 73 miles from my house outside Peterborough shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Plus, I’m interested to compare the two cars side-by-side. Although Paul Banham tells me that he didn’t take any inspiration from the XK8 (how could he? The X100 arrived a few years after the XJ-SS), there’s still a similarity between the two.
Thankfully, the skies are blue on the day of the shoot so, following the car’s successful run to Hunstanton and back, it is with excitement rather than concern that I load the XK8’s large, 307-litre boot with my camera equipment. The rear seats might be useless unless you are chocolate-factory Oompa Loompa-sized, but they do increase the XK8’s storage, making it surprisingly practical for a coupe. Plus, I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can pack for my trip to Le Mans in June. My journey today is a simple one: A1 heading south before taking the A14 eastbound. At Bury St Edmunds, I pick up the A143 that takes me straight to Diss. On the dual carriageway, my car feels fast and strong as if all of its past problems are long behind it. Time will tell, but I hope they are.
I arrive at TW Gaze a little under two hours later and, after the shoot, park the XJ-SS alongside my XK8. Coming a few years before and with no input from Jaguar, it is amazing how similar the XJ-SS appears, but it’s not identical. The Banham’s grille is too wide and although the Corsa-sourced lights are also a similar shape to my XK8’s, they’re much smaller.
Yet judging by its voluptuous curves, it’s clear Paul was thinking along the same lines as Jaguar’s own designers. The drive home is as enjoyable as the journey there, proving the XK8 would make a decent work car if I needed it to be – and it’s much easier to clean after its 140- mile round trip than my wool suit would be after a day weeding flower beds.
“MY CAR FEELS FAST AND STRONG AS IF ALL OF ITS PAST PROBLEMS ARE BEHIND IT”