I was 8 years old the first time I was taken out for a drive in a Jaguar. I still remember today the power of the acceleration pushing me back into my seat - what a wonderful sensation! I was in love!
My next encounter with a Jag was about 2 years later when the police came to our school to talk about road safety. As well as a normal police car, there in the playground was a gleaming dark green Jag. The policeman demonstrated the siren and the hidden blue lights and told us this was the car he used to catch speeding motorists, because they didn't realise it was a police car. "Don't tell your dads", he said - so naturally we all rushed home to tell our fathers to look out for the "plainclothes" police car.
When I was around 18 or 19, a young man my Father knew had an E-type and he would occasionally give me a lift somewhere. There I was, typical dolly bird with long blonde hair, short, short skirt and white PVC boots getting into an E-type, was I the bees knees or what? At that time, I knew a lot of young men with sports cars but there was just nothing to compare with the E-type - and there still isn't today!
Jaguars (although not my love of them) then disappeared from my life for many years until Gerry gave me a Jaguar driving day for my birthday one year. Off we went to Mallory Park race track and I drove a Mark II Jag, then an E-type (bliss!), then an Aston Martin DB5 (didn't like that very much and, interestingly, neither did any of the men doing the same driving day). Next up was a gorgeous XK8 - soft top, dark metallic blue with cream leather interior - and the grand finale was 3 laps as a passenger in a D-type, driven by a professional racing driver. What a wonderful day!
As my 50th birthday approached, I dropped many to hints to Gerry about a statue for the garden, so when he came home from work one evening and said I'd better come and see my birthday present as he couldn't keep it hidden, I stepped out of the front door looking for a statue. There was nothing at all in the front garden so I looked at him in puzzlement and he pointed a little way up the road and there was a beautiful XJ-S (see top photo - all photos are Jags we have owned at different times) parked there. I asked if he'd hired it as a treat for a couple of days but no, he'd bought it as a birthday present - what a present, what a man!
I drove with a permanent grin on my face, I just couldn't get into the car without smiling. Gerry had also enrolled me as a member of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club and we started going to our local meetings and to Jaguar rallies. We also started buying up Jags as though they were going out of fashion. At the height of this mad phase we had 11 Jaguars! Some were old wrecks bought for parts and some were restoration projects, but we had at least 3 on the road at any one time. I eventually became chairperson of our local JEC Club, which was interesting to say the least!
We had a superb weekend at Thoresby Hall in Leicestershire (or is it Nottinghamshire?) on the occasion of the 21st birthday of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club. We had a suite with a four poster bed in this fabulous hotel and stayed there for 3 nights. Superb food, entertainment every night, Jaguars all day, an afternoon in the Spa and an audience with Stirling Moss one evening - one of the best weekends we've ever had. On the Sunday afternoon, there was a Jaguar rally and there were about 2000 Jags there - thought I'd died and gone to Heaven!
When we moved to France, we were down to only (only!) 2 Jags and we sold both of them before we moved. I would love to have another one at some point, they are comfortable, stylish and oh so quick! You can keep the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis etc - they just don't do it for me. It's got to be a Jaguar!