27 Nov 2016

A Scottish memory

I came across this photo whilst looking through some photos on my computer a few weeks ago.
It shows a Jaguar XJ6/XJ40 beside a road in Scotland not far from Dunkeld -north of Edinburgh. It was taken by me on the launch of the XJ40 in September 1986-over 30 years ago -hence the colour shift due to aging of the negative.
Over the years I have been on many car and motorcycle press launches but the one I remember most clearly is that launch. Jaguar had been privatised 2 years earlier and the launch of the new XJ6 was a critical event for the newly independent company and its MD,John Egan. The Jaguar PR team laid on a superb launch. They took over an luxury hotel -Dunkeld House,laid on wonderful Scottish hospitality and mapped out a great drive route.
I flew to Scotland with a party of Australian motoring journalists and our local PR man,the irrepressible John Crawford. We had a great time with some very entertaining interludes. They loved the car and all seemed well.
The problem was that the car was not ready to launch. Arguably it may well never have been ready. The Jaguar management team were aware of the issues. John Egan sets out the whole saga very honestly in his book "Saving Jaguar". At that time Jaguar just did not have the facilities,the skills,the resources and the funding to build a car as sophisticated as the XJ40. The car was beset with problems despite millions of kilometres of testing-some of it in Australia.
By a miracle all went well on the Australian media launch but as soon as cars were in customers' hands the problems started. In fact they started before that for the Australian market as the first shipments of cars had dashboard vents which distorted in the heat as the cars were parked on the wharf after offloading and it was downhill all the way after that. I might well still have a full head of black hair if it had not been for the XJ40 because I was in charge of Jaguar sales and marketing in Australia at that time.
The photo above was not taken on the actual launch drive but was taken late in the afternoon we arrived in Scotland. Phil Scott, then editor of the leading Australian car magazine,Wheels, had organised for a London based photographer to come up to take some early photos for the magazine so Phil, the photographer and I ,went out and found a quiet piece of road where the photographer could do his stuff.
Happy memories of a wonderful event albeit one with a sting in the tail.


  1. wonderful picture on great roads John.... I remember them fondly.

    A bucket list item would be to drive the early 911 up there in the summer months.

  2. That photographer would have been Dougie Firth?

  3. Further along that day, they passed HM going the other way Scotty said, did you see who that was? Dougie said, yes, And I know what she were thinking too, whose that bloke with Dougie Firth?