Noise, Vi­bra­tion & Harsh­ness

Automobile - - Contents - By Jamie Kit­man

Jaguar is elec­tri­fy­ing the past, and that bodes well for the fu­ture.

READ­ERS OF THIS space know I’ve al­ways been soft in the head where old cars are con­cerned. It’s prob­a­bly why I can’t think of a sin­gle retro-themed car I haven’t liked—un­less you count the Chevro­let SSR, which promised so much in the realm of looks but de­liv­ered so lit­tle in the depart­ment of chas­sis.

I ap­plauded the New Bee­tle in 1998, cheer­fully signed off on the Chrysler PT Cruiser in 2000, dug the Mini Cooper in 2001, and heaped praise upon the Fiat 500 of 2007.

I’ve also loved all the fac­tory-cor­rect reis­sues and restos, all the way back to the short-lived Nissan fac­tory-sup­ported 240Z restora­tions of 20-some years ago. “$25,000!” peo­ple ex­claimed at the time. It seems cheap now, and I’ve no prob­lem with the big bucks be­ing spent on con­tin­u­a­tion As­tons and the like.

So it’s no sur­prise I’m 100 per­cent be­hind the Jaguar Land Rover Clas­sic pro­gram, which charges many spend­ing­tons ster­ling to recre­ate things like con­tin­u­a­tion XKSSs and lost D-types while ex­act­ing some­what less but still plenty enough for restora­tions to bet­ter-than-new con­di­tion of more af­ford­able clas­sics like Jaguar E-types and, lately, first-gen­er­a­tion Range Rovers.

In th­ese days of same­ness and au­to­mo­tive an­drog­yny, there’s some­thing kind of ge­nius in proac­tively ad­ver­tis­ing your her­itage while hav­ing oth­ers un­der­write the ex­pense of pre­serv­ing th­ese po­tent re­minders of your au­then­tic­ity and en­hanc­ing your over­all busi­ness in the process. In th­ese trou­bled times, with car com­pa­nies des­per­ately try­ing to fig­ure their way into the fu­ture, here’s an idea that’s com­par­a­tively easy to scale up. In JLR’s her­itage ve­hi­cles, you find pretty much ideal source ma­te­rial. It’s not right for ev­ery­body, but it is surely sen­si­ble in a coun­try so well stocked with un­der­em­ployed au­to­mo­tive crafts­men. It re­minds us of a hap­pier time when busi­nesses weren’t too busy to pick up the small bills found in the street, con­tent to run op­er­a­tions that paid for them­selves while do­ing real work and de­liv­er­ing a per­sonal ser­vice.

Still, I re­ally hadn’t ex­pected the all-elec­tric E-type from JLR’s Reborn pro­gram an­nounced at Peb­ble Beach. With its lithium-ion bat­tery pack and 220-kW (290-horse­power) elec­tric mo­tor, the elec­tric Jaguar road­ster (or coupe) ac­cel­er­ates as briskly as a ga­so­line-pow­ered E-type, has a quoted range of 170 miles, and man­ages to main­tain the orig­i­nal’s weight dis­tri­bu­tion. The re­versible re­moval of a boat an­chor-like 900 pounds of con­ven­tional en­gine and gear­box al­lows for a lot of bat­ter­ies to go in. It feels like a fast, mod­ern elec­tric car but looks and drives like a vin­tage E-type.

In May, hun­dreds of mil­lions saw an opales­cent blue E-type Zero drive off with the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex, headed to their sun­set wed­ding re­cep­tion. The other day in Mon­terey, Cal­i­for­nia, up the road from Peb­ble Beach, I got to drive it. Re­painted a sil­very, shim­mery bronze, it was a de­light.

The Zero is meant to stand for its emis­sions, not your chances of avoid­ing bad jokes about Lu­cas electrics from folks who know a lit­tle about cars, or rather just enough to know to put down Bri­tish elec­tri­cal sys­tems. Those who know more re­frain from such cracks, ex­cept as sport, be­cause in point of fact Lu­cas com­po­nents are only or­di­nar­ily bad, not epi­cally bad as leg­end has it. Then again, Zero may also stand for the three ze­roes that come af­ter $375 when you ask how much it costs. A cus­tomer’s ex­ist­ing car can be con­verted for a more rea­son­able $75,000. It’s also quite con­ceiv­able, JLR hinted, that with mi­nor ad­just­ments to mount­ing points, the bat­tery driv­e­train kit could be in­stalled in any XK-pow­ered Jaguar, sug­gest­ing a mas­sive list of con­ver­sion can­di­dates from the 1948 XK120 to the last XJ6s of 1985.

Jaguar’s leap into elec­tric ve­hi­cles is more se­ri­ous than most, and el­e­ments of the pow­er­plant from its new I-Pace reside in the E-type Zero. Which is promis­ing. The I-Pace, which I drove down to Peb­ble from San Jose, was ex­cel­lent, let down only by a low-speed, rough-road ride that was com­bine-har­vester di­a­bol­i­cal.

With its old-school 15-inch wheels, this elec­tri­fied E-type re­flects well on the mod­ern prod­uct, be­ing only the most beau­ti­ful car in the world. And Jaguar’s other mod­ern prod­ucts re­flect well on it: for ex­am­ple, the XE-based, 592-horse­power Project 8 sedan. This is one se­ri­ous high-per­for­mance au­to­mo­bile. I only drove 4 miles in it, but holy smokes. Or as we say in French, early smirks. AM

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