1997 Jaguar XJ Sovereign 3.2 LWB Auto X300
Recent weather incidents have made the Sovereign an obvious choice for a seaside getaway.
Of course it had to happen. My Range Rover’s air conditioning had to fail just before the most intense heat wave on record in Britain. And so once again I found myself using my Sovereign as daily transport. After all, you need aircon in weather like that. And that meant that when I needed a car for date night with my good lady, the Jaguar was at the front of the queue.
There’s no point in whisking one’s beloved off for an evening if you’re both going to reach your destination wishing you’d stayed at home. And given that date night was going to be fish and chips on a local beach while watching the sun set, that was a very real possibility.
While we live inland, we’re fortunate in that there’s a nice quiet beach with a nice quiet chip shop less than an hour up the road – and in a village that is familiar to me through repeat use of a certain classic car dealer’s cars for photo shoots. Snettisham, on the West Norfolk coast, is an unusual destination not only because it’s bereft of significant numbers of tourists, but also because it’s one of the few bits of coastline where you can sit, watch the sun set, and see England across the water.
The middle point is crucial here – in the East of England, there are few beaches where you can watch the sun set, chip in mouth, because on the east coast the sun is typically behind you, spoiling the effect. You have to watch the sun or the sea, and this is why Snettisham beach is a delightful anomaly in offering both at the same time. It’s a place I like and one I would heartily recommend to anyone living within an hour or so. The chip shop at the beach is excellent, and it’s sufficiently non-touristy as to be quiet of an evening.
The trip was rounded off slightly further up the coast in Hunstanton, with a walk along the promenade to watch the tide against the barrier wall and the seagulls congregating. A quiet, simple and very English evening away. And as I drove home through the darkness, Hollie asleep in the passenger seat, it struck me that the experience wouldn’t quite have been the same without such a stereotypically English saloon in which to waft our way home.
Elsewhere this month, the Jaguar has also been used to shop at Tesco, to ferry friends into the local town, and – somewhat incongruously – to deliver copious amounts of garden waste to the local tip (Hint, if you have another car with working aircon, use that for tip runs instead – the Jaguar’s tiny boot can only manage five sacks at a time and even then you have to squash them down.) But frankly, none of these make for as interesting a series of photographs as a summer evening at the seaside. What they do show is the versatility of a car that many classic buyers would deem impractical, and reinforce that X300 ownership really needn’t be a compromise.
It’s been too hot to do without air conditioning. Fortunately, it works perfectly in the Sovereign.