As many of you know, I’ve been a Jaguar & Land Rover man for most of my life. The first car I ever drove, at the ripe old age of eight, was a Jaguar MkII. We then relocated to a farm, and Land Rovers became such a part of my life that immediately upon leaving school, I began work as a Land Rover apprentice.
Of course, over the years I’ve had many jobs and owned several makes of automobiles. However, I’ve always retained my love of Green, and by that I’m talking British Racing Green, LR Bronze Green, Epsom Green, and even the Drab Olive Green which the British army favour! In fact, it’s often said that if “Crash” were to bleed, you’d find green fluids running from him!
Naturally, I’ve witnessed the good and the bad from both companies. I even lived through the dark days of British Leyland. Oh yes, I’ve heard all the jokes (Why do Brits drink warm beer? Because Lucas makes refrigerators!), and I’ve even told a few of them myself (If your Jag or LR’s not dripping oil, then you’d better check that there’s still some in it), but in truth, I’ve always been rather proud of Jaguar & Land Rover.
To me, a Jaguar typifies class and achievement, and its luxury wood & leather interior simply begs for you to try and resist climbing inside. In days gone by, the British gentry drove them, swingers from the 60s swooned over them, and because of one particular word in the company founder’s slogan, “grace, pace and space”, most British villains’ stole them for use as getaway cars! Of course, once they’d fenced their ill-gotten gains, they’d immediately rush out and purchase one for everyday transport. A Jaguar simply made a statement, and that was “You’ve finally made it!”
Land Rover comes with a similar heritage. The original farmer’s workhorse has seen more action around the world than any other military vehicle in history. In fact, in many far-flung areas of the globe, the Land Rover was the first vehicle to be seen by the natives, and of course, the Great British Train Robbers used LRs to make off with their takings from the famous mail train raid! (Try stopping one and you’ll realize why!).
However, let’s zip forward a few years; what exactly went wrong?
Well, the British car industry never truly recovered from the British Leyland years. Union strikes all but killed the industry, while both Jaguar & Land Rover suffered miserably from shoddy workmanship. Their reputations went down the pan, and whilst companies like Mercedes-Benz grew and prospered, Jaguar & Land Rover sales all but disappeared.
For some reason the wisdom of smaller-than-standard size vans evaded North America until mid-2009 when the first Transit Connect arrived. The vehicle immediately won North American Truck of the Year at the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and has proven itself popular with buyers ever since.