Going to lunch with Gaylord Hanes is one of the highlights of my week.
Not only is he a very dear friend, he’s also one of the smartest people I’ve ever met — although he never flaunts his education. In fact, he’s so down to earth that few people even know he has a doctorate’s degree in physics or the fact that during the Cold War the U.S. government tapped him as one of the scientists to figure out a way to produce a safe food supply in the event of a nuclear war with the Soviets.
Amazingly, that’s not even on his “Top 10” list of accomplishments.
He’s a really fascinating man, and while he’s constantly expanding my intellectual horizons, I get to return the favor by taking him for a ride in a new vehicle every week and demonstrate the latest in automotive technology.
I know, it’s not really a fair trade, but Gaylord does enjoy letting me “school him” on what’s new in the car world.
This week I had the chance to impress him with the 2008 Jaguar XJ8 Super V8.
If it were possible to impress someone with a car, the XJ8 would rank among the top picks to accomplish the task.
“Tell me about Jaguars, Neal,” Gaylord said as I picked him up for our weekly lunch date. “I know they’re fancy cars and I know they are expensive and I know they are built in England, but that’s about the extent of my Jaguar knowledge. I will say that this is certainly a beautiful car.”
As we drove, I talked about Jaguar’s heritage in building performance cars and its reputation for high-end luxury.
“Jaguar has always built highly sought after performance cars,” I told him. “While the brand has never lost its performance heritage, over the years Jaguar has also evolved into the premium luxury performance division. The XJ8 — with a lineup that includes the XJ8 L (long wheelbase), Vanden Plas, XJR and XJ8 Super V8 — certainly lives up to that heritage.
“Did you know that Jaguar is a division of Ford?” I asked.
“No, I had no idea,” he said.
“I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to Jaguar,” I said. “While Ford has given Jaguar the freedom to continue building aspirational vehicles that are truly amazing, the quality has improved dramatically under Ford’s guidance.”
I hit the accelerator to merge onto the busy freeway, forcing Gaylord back into the seat.
“Goodness! This sure has a lot of power,” he said.
I told him about the XJ8 Super V8, which is powered by a supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 engine that delivers 400 horsepower and 413 lb.-ft. of torque giving the rear-wheel drive, five-passenger sedan the ability to go from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
It also comes with computer active technology suspension, advanced restraint technology system and the latest Bluetooth connectivity that allows up to five approved phones to be paired to the in-car telephone system.
“You know, Neal, if I had this I wouldn’t need an airplane,” he quipped.
“Yeah,” I said. “But if you bought it you would have to hire me to chauffer you around. Have you checked out the back seat? It’s like a limo back there with all the electronics and comfort features you’d ever need. Plus, I’d get to drive it every day.”
I’m not sure, but I think Gaylord was impressed.
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.