Most nostalgia is complete bunkum.
Take the legendary Jaguar E-Type – now undoubtedly iconic and desired by many. Although to be fair most people who desire one have never actually driven one, and certainly never driven one in the hope of getting to an actual destination on time.
Let’s start by looking at that remarkable styling – a car so good looking that Enzo Ferrari said it was the most beautiful car in the world, or something like that. And every car ‘enthusiast’ that I’ve encountered seems to agree, spewing forth clichés such as ‘timeless beauty’ and ‘classic elegance’.
But just look at it, the wheels are too close together, almost invisibly distant sunk deep into the wheel arches, as if some cheeky scamp had stolen the real wheels and fitted four space savers for a laugh.
Then there is the hole at the front, some say it looks like a beautiful woman pouting. These are clearly sick people who probably have never seen a woman and certainly should never be allowed near a car without a suitable chaperone equipped with restraints. Let’s face it, anyone who forms sexual similes about a car has a deep seated problem. It’s a car for goodness sake!
Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice bits on it – the gently waving line in side profile seems pleasing to the eye, and the way the boot floor tapers and slopes up is nice too. But sexy? Come on, really?
To be fair it does look a little bit animal like, maybe a guppy that has just been startled by getting its tail flattened in a badly located sandwich toaster.
Then there’s the windscreen, looks quite nice on the flop top, but stupidly big on the coupé, massively out of proportion like the bulbous forehead of a stereotype mad scientist. The reason being that the low waistline means that most of the driver is sticking out the top. Try the open top with the roof up and your head is crushed. Try with the roof down and all the flies in the world will commit suicide on your forehead. And if it starts raining with the roof down at speed your life will erupt into cold damp misery.
If you want to simulate the interior of an E-Type in a modern car then simply Sellotape about three inches of cardboard to you door card until there is nowhere to put your elbow, adjust the steering wheel to maximum height and full extension, wind the drivers seat fully forward with the seat back upright, then allow four inches of concert to set in the footwell so there is no room for normal sized feet. And don’t forget to replace the steering wheel rim with a coat-hanger wrapped in a thin layer of matchsticks.
Then break the heater.
With a bit more effort you can also simulate the driving experience by simply replacing the suspension with a few stout blocks of wood and coating the tyres in a thick layer of lard and letting half the air out.
Yes it was hugely better in the handling department than its contemporaries, and the double wishbone suspension can be made to do wonderful things, but the tub was quite floppy making the whole thing a bit skittery. It stood head and shoulders above its competition mainly because its competition was largely abysmal. Most sports cars of that time had beam axles and cart springs nailed badly onto even more floppy bodies.
It’s amazing how much these cars sell for now, I remember a time when you couldn’t give them away. In the early ’90s our newsagent used a coupé to move boxes of magazines about in the surprisingly usefully large boot. Even in the ’80s it was out-handled by the humble Golf. What’s more, a combination of terminal rust, tragically unreliable electrics and high maintenance costs made it a fairly pointless mode of transport.
But rarity makes things more valuable. After all a Ming vase is not much use as a vase but costs a fortune. The rust and poor mechanical durability has killed of most of these obsolete anachronisms, and as fewer and fewer people can actually remember driving one the legend has plenty of space to grow into.
I realise I have probably committed some cardinal sin by daring to speak out about this guppy-faced relic, but hopefully those few who are struggling with their own feelings about this ‘car’ now feel able to talk about it among understanding friends.