The Ford takeover has certainly boded well for the carriage makers of Coventry. As distinctive in style and build as it’s ever been, today’s Jaguar is a far less troublesome machine than in years past. So much so that Jaguar actually tied for first place in the J.D. Power and Associates 1999 Sales Satisfaction study. Gone are those cold, wintry days when the damned thing just wouldn’t start. Yet the essence of Jaguar remains: a combination of beauty, style, comfort, and speed unique in the automotive world.

Jaguar’s XK8 coupes and convertibles are proving worthy successors to the pencil-thin 12-cylinder XKE roadster that bore the standard of the marque through the swinging sixties. A lot can change in 30-odd years. Twenty-year-olds turn into 50-year-olds. One-hundred-fifty-pound collegians turn into … well … weightier folk. And the one-and-a-half-lane country roads of our sporting youths are all but gone.