Jaguar XKE Series 2

Jaguar XKE 4.2 Driving Experience

Just as Jaguar built it, the XKE was fast enough to make a very quick, very enjoyable job out of any journey, and in itself was a possession that gave great pleasure. Surely that was enough. Numbers are interesting, but they aren't everything. The quality of performance is at least as important as its quantity.

1969 Jaguar XKE Series 2 cockpit
Taking the wheel of a 4.2-liter Jaguar XKE
meant you were in control of a very fast but
also a confidence-inspiring sports car.

As Motor's test put it, "Preconceived ideas about speed and safety are apt to be shattered by XKE performance. True, very few owners will ever see 150 m.p.h. on the speedometer, but, as on any other car, cruising speed and acceleration are closely related to the maximum and it is these that lop not just seconds or minutes, but half hours and more, off journey times. Our drivers invariably arrived early in the XKE and the absurd ease with which 100 m.p.h. can be exceeded on a quarter mile straight never failed to astonish them: nor did the tremendous punch in second gear which would fling the car past slower vehicles using gaps that would be prohibitively small for other traffic."

This point was also touched by Autosport's Gregor Grant in a piece he called "The Magic of an XKE." After a fast Continental trip in a 3.8 coupe, he wrote: "As a high performance touring car there are few machines to equal the XKE, and none at all in its price bracket.

"Effortless is the correct word to describe it, for it is a real mile-eater and also one of the least-fatiguing cars to drive ... Driven intelligently, it is easily one of the safest vehicles on the road: it has superb steering and road-holding, the brakes on the latest version are as smooth and powerful as one could wish, and the acceleration is so vivid that overtaking can be done with the greatest confidence."

Bolster's test of the 4.2 also addressed passing performance: "The XKE is fundamentally a safe car because it is on the wrong side of the road for such a short period when overtaking."

He also lauded, once again, the stability and comfort given by the all-independent suspension, the powerful disc brakes, the "very restful" silence as its aerodynamic shape slipped through the air; for Bolster, the XKE was "a superb car, a veritable magic carpet, which can make haste unobtrusively and automatically achieves fantastic averages."

Such was the real value for the average owner of the XKE Jaguar's competition breeding. An athletic automobile, like a physically fit body, simply handles everyday situations more competently. Let us sigh for the days and the places where the full prowess of such "magic carpet" cars could be freely and innocently enjoyed.

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