That’s over Jaguar or Corvette, I have enough about cars!

Felix : Let’s talk about something else for a while, something more spiritual than Corvette V8 or Jaguar inline-six. Are you interested in music? If your answer is yes, what’s your favorite: Glenn Miller or Elvis Presley? In other words, do you prefer jazz or rock‘n’roll?

If you answered r’n’b, no doubt, you’re on the wrong page …  probably another kind of guy who likes youngtimers too much (even if I must admit I enjoy a rap song, when I am driving my youngtimer, a Clio III Diesel). Then, I guess that most of you will answer rock‘n’roll.

If your answer is jazz, I would like to know: do you really prefer jazz or do you choose it because it looks smarter to say that?

Get outta my dreams Corvette C1, Get into my car Jaguar XK120 – Billy Ocean

Rock and jazz issue is roughly comparable to Jaguar XK120 and Corvette C1 hesitation. The XK120 is smooth and jazzy while the C1 is wild and rock(y), maybe hardrock(y). There is obviously a debate. At this point you wonder if I’m joking, but you will discover that I am not, the comparison is totally justified.

Both come from the 50’s, both were (quite) affordable sport cars, both marked their time in their one continent and are still iconic. Both were available in FHC (Fixed Head Coupe), OTS (Open Two Seaters), and DHC (Drop Head Coupe) versions. Well, thanks to its hard top, the American girl was doing the three at the same time. (That’s smart). While Jaguar needed 3 different chassis. (Commercially super smart, I will take the 3!).

To finish, this two models launched two major sport car brands. Okay, we are not stupid, we all know about Swallow Sidecars (SS). But the XK120 really propelled William Lyons’ company, which became Jaguar after the WWII, into another dimension.

So, did I convince you about the opportunity of a comparison? No? That’s gonna be a trouble, we don’t have B plan to confront the C1 to another US car. Ah. Because you were here, thinking the XK120 was going to be the queen of this article? Who said I had good tastes?

Little Red Corvette, Babe you’re much to fast (for the Jaguar) – Prince

It’s not me who said that, but Prince (pretty much). And if Prince sang that, it must be true. So, we started the little red thing parked inside the garage. It had been a long time since the cleaning had been done. In a fraction of a second, the Corvette solved the problem. And … I was deaf.

The Corvette is screaming like a tiger: roooaarr, rooaaarr. We cannot say it is a symphony, but at least, we know that the V8 is more than in good condition, ready to hit the road, as always.

On the other side of the yard, the Jaguar starts more anonymously. The feline is not roaring. It’s more like a purr. However a nice purr, something that isn’t invasive and makes you feel comfortable. The sound of the car is more intellectual. It’s jazzy.

In fact, it’s absolutely wonderful but you have to be sensible to this kind of music, you have to understand the nobility of its straight 6 – 3,4L fitted here with the C-type cylinder head. Whaaat an engine!

The shape of the one-twenty is consistent with its sound. The bodywork is at the quintessence of the sensual, and not far from being a piece of art. Well, in fact this is art. The (nearly) electric red of the Corvette is at the complete opposite, a pure beast full of plastic. But the good thing with cars, is that you don’t need to be a beauty to be desirable.

Now, do you understand why I was talking about jazz and rock‘n’roll?

I’m a racing Jaguar, passing by like Lady Godiva – Queen

You may have recognized the sentence of Don’t Stop Me now by Queen. The link with Jaguar? Well… Lady Godiva, not Lady Gaga, was the spouse of Léofric de Mercie, a Lord who, back in the XIth century, use to levy a lot of taxes. Lady Godiva, crossed the streets of Coventry completely naked, ridding her horse, in order to convince her husband to lower them. She was probably a kind of yellow vest.

If like Lady Godiva, the XK120 comes from Coventry, it’s driving the Corvette that you will feel completely naked. The 327 ci engine (or 5,4L engine for non strange-technical-american bilinguals) is doing the job, delivering 340 HP (360 with the injection). Just that. In the 50’s.

Ok, in the 50’s, to be correct, the engine was a 283ci (4,6L 315 HP, 360 with the injection). The engine has been upgraded in the early sixties and received the C2 specifications.

Born to run with a Corvette – Bruce Springsteen

The car is so powerful that you are consistently over the speed limits. And when you are back on the Jag’, everything seems very slow. It’s not really a mater. Because with this one you enjoy another kind of experience. You realise that everything is not about speed and pure acceleration. With the XK120 you take part of a whole sensitive experience, you enjoy what we can call road-tripping.

In fact, there is nothing so pleasant to balance the Jag’ in every corner, and appreciate the accurateness of its steering, once you managed to put the second gear and avoid the wall coming in front of you.

However, you will be surprised by the Corvette. If the information is far more blurred, one has to recognize this car is really fast on sinuous roads. You don’t expect it from a car coming from the other side of the Atlantic. To be honest, you always wonder if it’s going to pass or not, but at the end (nearly all the time, we hope), it passes. What’s sure, is that when you are piloting the Corvette, you don’t have the time to road-trip !

Jag or Corvette ? It depends on how much you price your life.

Coming back to the garage, I’m driving the Corvette across the flowered countryside. Looking in my mirrors, I cannot find my mates. The Corvette is already far away. The 0 to 60 mph. (… ok to 100 mph, but don’t tell it) we’ve done, confirmed this analysis. While the Corvette reached in less than 6,5 seconds the threshold, the XK120 only managed to almost burn its clutch.

After a visit to the hospital, the doctor confirmed us that none of the car was injured. The Jag’ will be our partner for a 6.000 miles rally in UK next June. We wouldn’t have done it with the corvette, it costs too much fuel…

Baby you can drive my Jag’ – The Beatles

So what we do now with all these information ?

Shall we race? If I let you one, it means I take the second. I’m not a gentleman, so the better option for me is to keep the bolide from the Michigan. There is no risk to be defeated, at least if I don’t finish in a tree.

Wanna go for a romantic week-end ? In that case you might want to choose the Jag’. At least if you want to understand what your girlfriend is yelling to you. Probably she loves you (or maybe she loves the car, you never know with the Jag’). The Corvette is made for selfish people who loves to travel fast and alone, forget it for your honey moon.

To conclude. Because I’m an old school guy, and I appreciate Glenn Miller, I take the english lady. I love the fact you have to deserve this kind of car. The design is also completely mad, and the quality of the inside doesn’t even compare with the C1. My dream is to get married in this car.

I’m kidding, I like Glenn Miller, but to be fair, this isn’t the kind of music I listen in order to wake up. I need rock, something that makes me move, so I need a Corvette in my life! I know that I’m going to disappoint most of you guys. Those who denigrates the C1 are snob people, especially if you consider the money you will spend on, that is to say less than half of the amount you will have to amass in order to afford the XK. But, I keep the XK120 for when I will be reasonable.

Again, who said I had good tastes ..?

David : Not me Felix.

Indeed, you are just telling us the obvious with half words, so just say it: The Corvette is a redneck dream and the Jag is a posher car than reasonable. Once we have established the hard truth about the way everyone sees those two, let’s dig into what it is really like to experience them.

 

 

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Une publication partagée par Road Rug Cars (@roadrugcars) le

Thanks Nico for the video. He nearly gets killed.

Corvette C1 : the Hooligan you would expect

Let’s start with the Corvette, because it’s so far from my universe. When I grew up, very early, I was told that american cars were just useless. My grandfather though, told me every car was useless apart from going from A to B (not really a speedfreak this one).
Well, it seems like we can agree on the A to B part, he didn’t mention speed.
But, what is interesting is that the american cars are even more useless, because they can do A to B, with speed, only and only if A to B is really straight. And boy does it know how to do it.
The first thing you notice when you get into a Corvette is how low quality and poorly designed it is. The designers of this car were really ahead of their time, just look at any modern “premium” car.
The Corvette just doesn’t make sense, the gearbox (manual this one) is absolutely hopeless, the steering wheel is too large for me to get my legs under it (and I am no big guy), the pedals are too far apart: I remember thinking “Wow it’s like a truck, I could never drive that”.
Turns out I can, and thanks God for that. You hear the engine making its usual V8 “blah blah blah”, you engage first gear (or third, you never really know) and you just go : I have never driven anything that torquy. Although, as expected, it’s missing power passed 4500 rpm. Still, it had so much torque, that when you start in third by mistake, which is half the time, you barely notice it, it’s mad.

The handling you wouldn’t expect

Yes, I’m as surprised as you are. I have been lied to my whole life. Well not quite.
The car is a lot of fun to throw in corners, the front end behaves very well, and the rear end is very polite up to a point. Although, the steering play is close to a 40° angle, which does make feedback tricky, you never really know where you wheels are.
Still, for a 50’s american car, I am very surprised it’s capable of doing that.
But, the chassis is a marshmallow, the brakes are terrible, the car feels way too wide for a road like the ones we drove on, you feel absolutely unsafe all along. You know what? Who cares? I am still alive, and when I was driving, I was smiling half the time, and the other half I was laughing, isn’t it what a sports car it’s all about?

The refinement you would expect

Let’s get into the 120. I was never a big fan of that car, but, it’s much more my universe, and it’s still far better than an E-type.
First things first, the car is very well made, and beautifully designed. It’s the car in its purest form : an engine, four wheels, three pedals, two seats, one steering wheel. Boy do we miss those, don’t we?
You start the engine, the noise feels refined, round and discreet. I couldn’t believe this was the engine that won LeMans, so civilized. The pedals are in the right place, even though the brake pedal takes some getting used to, the gearbox is joyfully accurate and falls in hand, but the steering wheel is too big (I don’t care this time).
And then you just go! Wait, that’s all there is?
Indeed, even though 210 HP is a lot for that era, you really feel like you’re living in slow-mo when you get out of the Corvette. But again, I don’t care.
You see, when you don’t have a driving license yet, you can only refer to numbers : I remember knowing every car’s power, 0-100 km/h, and top speed. But, when you age, you realize that isn’t where the real pleasure is.

And the pleasure is here all the way. The engine sings (jazzy stuff as Felix tried to explain), and it wants to go high revs. The non-synchro gearbox is a blessing, double clutching downshifts as well as upshifts is delightful. The brakes work too, at least once, due to front disk brakes.The front end is the point and shoot type, although there is a 15° play in the steering, but I don’t care either. The chassis is very predictable. It’s exactly what I expected: a classic sports car, the absolute driving experience.

Which one gives the best bang to the buck?

Well, it’s a difficult one. The beauty is double the price of the beast, is it worth it? It really depends on what you are looking for.
If you are into a savage driving experience, lots of torque, lots of smiles and that you don’t care about the way people see you, you know what to buy : C1.
Although, if you are a refined person – with taste – and you are into beautiful mechanic, joyful driving experience and technics, and you do want people to think you are refined, buy the XK. I would.

6 Comments

Jaguar XK120 vs Corvette C1: when the old world meets the new world!

  1. Cette Corvette a l’air assez fantastique ! Merci beaucoup les gars, grâce à vous je passe mon samedi à checker les annonces ha ha

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