When I was out with testing the Jaguar F-Type, I once again took advantage of my proximity to real designers and engineers to give them some of my top-notch ideas. During dinner, I made sure to snag a seat next to the head designer. Once the guy whose lap I was on finally left (take a hint, buddy), I got right into it.
The designer was Wayne Burgess, and once he realized that I had his wallet and phone crammed safely and deeply in my pants, he was open to hearing out a few of my suggestions.
The Idea: The F-Type would make an incredible shooting brake! I know it's my MO to suggest some sort of shooting brake design to every designer I can, this one I think is absolutely ideal. Great hood-to-rear-deck proportions, the right sort of character — British cars are sort of the archetypal shooting brake as it is — and a car that actually could probably benefit from the extra trunk room.
The Response: Reasonably positive! Wayne confessed a common admiration to the body design, and felt that making a decent one on the F-Type is at least theoretically possible. I don't think he felt it was actually likely to happen, but he at least didn't find the idea repugnant.
He then started to set up a makeshift screen of menus and wine lists between us, for some reason. Maybe he was going to change clothes?
The Idea: One of the details I always liked about Jaguar XJs in the 1980s was how the sedans all seemed to have two fuel fillers! I believe there were actually two fuel tanks in the cars, but the real benefit was never having to worry about pulling your car up to a particular side when you get gas. You're a Jag driver, you shouldn't have to worry about maneuvering your car around like some common ape.
Jag needs to re-implement the dual side fuel filler system. Even if it's just a Y-pipe and one tank.
The Response: At first he seemed a little peeved that I knocked over his screen of menus, but he eventually just took a long pull of beer and sighed. He said that probably wouldn't work today because those filler flaps were horizontal, and all of them now need to be vertical on the car's side.
I told him one on each side would be just fine, that could work, too, but he just closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. Maybe he was thinking really hard about the best way to implement it? Probably, but that doesn't really explain why he was gripping that fork so tightly.
The Idea: You know what the F-Type really needs? A vertical fin right behind the driver, just like on the old D- and E-Type derived racing cars!
The Response: You mean like we had on Project 7?
Me, again: Yes! Just like that! That should at least be an option on the F-Type, right?
The Response: We have to make cars that people will actually buy, he said, and sometimes, certain things may be too much? Something like that. He was starting to look a little pale, but I assumed that was because his blood was flowing to his brain as he tried to fully process these amazing ideas.
The Idea: Okay, this one is gold. You know how Aston Martin has to produce the Cygnet, and it's a colossal success and everyone loves it and no one has anything bad to say about it ever? Of course. Well, Jaguar should have something similar, and thanks to the Tata ownership, they have a terrific place to start! The Nano!
See, Jag should take the Nano, fill the interior with all the best leathers and eagle down and weirwood and all the best materials, improve the suspension (as in wheel bearings that can do over 45 MPH), supercharge the engine (for maybe, what, 50 HP or more?) and add Jag's new corporate grille, lights, details. You could call it the Ocelot! Or maybe the Swallow, if you wanted to reference the past (Jag was originally called Swallow Sidecars). What do you think?
The Response: I handed him the little drawing I made, and I saw the color seep from his face as he looked at it. The more I described my idea, the more ashen he looked. By this point I was so excited by the idea, I was holding both his hands, hard, and staring right in his face. I still don't know how I didn't see it coming.
His body lurched, his eyes clenched shut, and he began to vomit, lavishly, with more force and volume than I'd ever encountered. Within moments I was covered in the undigested remains of his dinner. A lot of it burned.
He pulled away from me, angrily. He stood up, miraculously clean-looking, and left the table. He whispered to one of the PR people, who gave a low whistle as two burly security guards wrapped me in trash bags and flung me into the dumpster at the back of the restaurant.
I think he liked it! Also, I think he made the right choice by going with the steak.