In The Manner Of Voltaire
Above: Images of early attempts at streamlining for sports cars keep cropping up, just proving that Sayer was NOT the first. This one is from our new Audi R8 book. Fascinating.
In 1757, the French writer and playwright ‘Voltaire’, wrote, of poor wronged Admiral John Byng who was executed on board his own ship for supposedly disobeying orders, ‘...in this country, it is found good, from time to time, to kill one admiral pour encourager les autres (to encourage the others)’.
I remember this from history classes at school and it comes to mind now. When I was a child, my father had in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a secondhand XK 120 Roadster, a Mark VIIM, a couple of Mark 2s (one he swore had been rescued from the famous factory fire!), a Mark X and an early XK6. This, no doubt, is where my love of the marque began.
When I was forced to give up my motorsport pretensions, I purchased (for peanuts in those days), five XKs and the same number of E-types, plus some other models (we have just discovered my XJ Coupe was almost certainly the original launch car). Julie and I drive (relatively) modern Jaguars and the company has a Discovery for carting books around.
Of my 30+ books, at least 22 have been on Jaguar subjects (two actually for Jaguar).
Some 25 years ago, my wife and I formed the International Jaguar XK Club (members in 50+ countries) and a few years later we were persuaded to start one for E-types (ludicrously, I could have earned more working in the local pub). I have been on extremely friendly terms with the senior management from ‘Lofty’ England (we stayed at each other’s houses) to Sir Ralf Speth.
When the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust was recently planning an exhibition to celebrate the company’s centenary, they asked if they could use a few of the several hundred interviews I have conducted with Jaguar personnel.
It is therefore interesting to note that the JLR lawyers are now out to discredit and attack me in court. I have seen their submission as it is, I am told, in the public domain.
It is ironic to note that they are using my books to support their arguments and yet also rubbishing me. They are quoting a private email of mine to their paid expert witness, which I am actually rather pleased about because it gives an enthusiast’s/my view of his evidence.
They are also saying I have threatened the company. I believe this is based on the fact that I sent a press release, which I had not written, to (just-retired) Ralf Speth to kindly forward to the then new CEO (who now has just resigned).
It was entitled ‘URGENT – Seriously negative publicity for JLR’ and was intended to highlight this to the senior management (in the hope they would avoid scoring an own goal) as I was genuinely concerned for the company’s reputation – something clearly proven by my track record over the last 50 years. Sir Ralf responded with thanks, saying he’d passed it on and offering to show me around the lovely part of Germany to which he had retired. Doesn’t sound as though he considered me to be issuing threats…
One wonderful thing is that, thanks to email, virtually everything is in writing. When Dan Pink, who then headed up JLR Classic (now moved on, I am told) wanted to have a chat I said I’d prefer to communicate via email as I wanted everything on the record. I could see, even then, that one day I might have to defend myself.
Finally (at least for now), they are saying I have a vested interest. I don’t understand that one. I have never owned a replica. I have never benefitted in any way financially (apart from possibly writing just one article about a C-type replica that Nick Baldwin and I were lent and took to Geneva to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the E-type in 1986).
Perhaps the only (theoretical) financial interest I can think of, stems from when when I wrote to the Legal Team, as a test, to ask if they would object to us selling prints of my E-type – at the time, they were sending Cease and Desist communications to artists who were selling their drawings of Land Rovers, for example. They replied, saying they would need to give permission, to know the size, how many, how they would be marketed, etc., and I’d need to pay the JDHT a royalty.
I wrote back saying that that was amazing – were they saying no-one could sell photographs of their own car?
They did not reply.
Are they seriously suggesting I am motivated by the few pounds we might have made from selling a few prints? Apart from anything else, this was a couple of months after I had sent my ‘threat’ to Jaguar Land Rover.