Growing old gracefully - Maserati 3200GT and Jaguar XKR X100
It’s a quarter of a century since I first drove the X100 generation of XK when, as an aspiring motoring journalist, I was asked by a leading British car magazine to help with a twin test in Italy between the newly launched Maserati 3200GT and XKR (pictured). After flying to Rome and collecting a British Racing Green Jaguar, I had a fabulous 250-mile drive north to Maserati’s home of Modena where the shoot took place. With my car at the time being an asthmatic Peugeot 205 diesel, the car’s huge performance and luxurious interior was a revelation.
But as a fresh-faced 25-year-old, the car clearly wasn’t mine and anyone who saw me probably thought it belonged to my father. Or I’d stolen it. Or both. Due to their high price and traditional image, XKs were never aimed at youngsters. They were for those that could now afford the finer things in life, the sort who knew their Beaujolais from a Burgundy and no longer wore trainers. What they weren’t for were idiots who, despite being in the country of pasta, ate two McDonalds in one day since he was too afraid to sit in an Italian restaurant alone…
Even when I bought my own X100 XK8 4.0 in 2016 aged 43, I was still arguably too young for the car but was swayed by its looks, sub-£5k value and 155mph performance. I ignored the jibes from ‘friends’ about wearing driving gloves and listening to Radio 4 since I already did. But as I write this in early February I’m three months from turning 50, meaning there’s no longer any doubt the XK8 belongs to my father. Besides, at 81 he can no longer bend low enough to climb into the swoopy coupe. Just as it did for owners in the late Nineties and early 2000s, driving such a car today shows me to be a refined, well-educated, and cultured gentleman and not the burger-eating idiot I once was. But here’s the thing; I don’t want to be seen in an “old man’s” car. My aching joints, grey beard and ever growing lack of patience with anything technological clearly illustrates my age. I don’t need my car to do it too.
When I’ve looked around for potential replacements, in terms of power and prestige, there’s only one real candidate with an equal value: the first generation of Boxster. Ever since I first drove one these handsome, two seat, mid-engined German sports cars several years ago I’ve always fancied one.
But at my grand old age they would have a serious image problem – it would look like I’d bought a ‘meno-Porsche’. It’s one step away from dying my hair and pretending I know who’s number one in the charts.
I guess for now I’ll just accept my XK8 for what it is; a handsome, elegant, and powerful grand tourer that remains the choice of grown-ups, even those who still wear trainers and continue to buy cheap wine.
THE CAR CLEARLY WASN’T MINE AND ANYONE WHO SAWME PROBABLY THOUGHT IT BELONGED TO MY FATHER. OR I’D STOLEN IT. OR BOTH.