Jaguar XJ-S

...the Jaguar XJ-S. It was so much more than my com­pany car, says former Bri­tish Ley­land chair­man ‘The XJ-S was my daily trans­port. It was won­der­fully com­fort­able, and the styling su­perb, ideal for some­one like me work­ing in pub­lic re­la­tions. It also chan

Classic Cars (UK) - - Welcome - Alan Ball

Ihad my Jaguar XJ-S for 12 glo­ri­ous years, and I loved it. As chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Bri­tish Ley­land Europe and Over­seas, as well as world sales chief of BL, Rover, MG and Jaguar Cars, I was en­ti­tled to run a stim­u­lat­ing va­ri­ety of com­pany cars. In 1983 I left to start up my own event pro­duc­tion com­pany, Tony Ball As­so­ciates, which in­cluded the re­spon­si­bil­ity for stag­ing the Bri­tish In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show and also the or­gan­i­sa­tion of new car launches for the mo­tor in­dus­try. As my daily trans­port I bought a red Jaguar XJ-S. I thought the shape was ex­cep­tion­ally ap­peal­ing. I’d had E-types when I was with Jaguar but I con­sid­ered the XJ-S to be even more re­fined. It was won­der­fully com­fort­able – I al­ways main­tained you sat in a Jaguar while in some­thing like a Mercedes you sat on it. The styling was su­perb, ideal for some­one like me work­ing in PR.

The car’s regis­tra­tion was ABA 11 and a lady who lived in the same apart­ment block as I did asked the porter if the car be­longed to the foot­baller Alan Ball. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘That’s Tony Ball’s car, fa­ther of singer Michael Ball. ‘What a coin­ci­dence,’ she said. ‘I was with Michael only last night do­ing Fri­day Night is Mu­sic Night for the BBC.’ We were in­tro­duced. The lady was Jan Kennedy, MD of Billy Marsh As­so­ciates, the the­atri­cal agent. She man­aged peo­ple like Bruce Forsyth and More­cambe and Wise, so when­ever I needed a mu­si­cal di­rec­tor or artists for my events she was the go-to con­tact.

The first time I took Jan out in the Jaguar was to Rules in Covent Gar­den, the old­est restau­rant in Lon­don. At that time our meet­ing was purely busi­ness, nev­er­the­less the car changed my life. Our re­la­tion­ship led to a won­der­ful mar­riage, caused quite co­in­ci­den­tally by the XJ-S.

It proved to be such a happy car and for some­one in my pro­fes­sion it pro­jected my per­son­al­ity per­fectly. On an­other oc­ca­sion many years later I’d gone shop­ping in St John’s Wood. I no­ticed a very at­trac­tive young lady walk­ing down the street to­wards me. Be­cause the Jaguar al­ways drew ad­mir­ing glances and com­pli­men­tary com­ments, when I saw her look­ing at the car and then me I ex­pected her to say some­thing nice. Not so. With a won­der­fully sym­pa­thetic smile she asked: ‘Do you need any help?’ It was at that point I re­alised I’d passed my sell-by date – and sold the Jaguar im­me­di­ately.

Alan Ball felt that the red Jaguar XJ-S he ran as his busi­ness shut­tle rep­re­sented him per­fectly – un­til a passer-by in­ad­ver­tently burst his bal­loon

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