My elder daughter has just passed her 16th birthday, and she never notches up another year without recalling my original E-type Jaguar. A month before she was born, her mother was taken into hospital for observation; and on that same day the car was sent down from Coventry for me to test. I was on my own, free to go wherever I fancied and at whatever hour. To take me, I had the car that was the sensation of the early ‘60s, the car that, even two years after production had begun in 1961, could still turn more heads than a platoon of poachers in a poultry farm. It fitted like a glove, went like the wind, looked like a million dollars, and sold for a little more than a couple of thousand pounds. Even though it might be doomed in some hands to idle its life away in a top-gear London loiter, it carried about itself everywhere the immense and unquestioned authority of a car that was known to be capable of 150mph.
It was time for me to fulfil a long-cherished ambition, to see the dawn from the top of Worcester Beacon, to watch the sun come upon the 12 counties within the purview of that loftiest of the Malvern Hills. From my home then in Hampton it was a moderately long drive, but it should not feel long, or take long in an E-type; and in any case I was free to set off whenever I liked.