The seaside roads of England, Wales and Scotland echoed to the growl of Jaguar’s iconic E-type cars in 2016, with more than 200 taking part in the inaugural Round Britain Coastal Drive organised by The E-type Club. Now it is the turn of the International XK Club. In June 2017, Jaguar XKs – the cars beloved of Sir Stirling Moss and Clark Gable – will set off to explore the windswept highways and byways that encircle Britain. XK 120s, 140s and 150s will gather at Beaulieu Motor Museum in Hampshire and drive 4,000 miles through picturesque villages and wild fenland before arriving back in the New Forest 18 days later. Participants can join the drive for as many or as few stages as they wish.
Leading the way will be Philip Porter, who founded the International XK Club in 1997, driving his XK 120 roadster LXF 715. He completed the whole of the E-type RBCD last year in his 'Italian Job' roadster 848 CRY, most of it with the roof down, and voted the experience ‘absolutely superb’. He adds: ‘The driving, especially in Scotland where it was out of this world, was brilliant and it was great to use in this constructive way the cars we are fortunate to own. Everyone wins.’
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There is a meaningful element to the RBCD: Porter drove the RBCD shortly after recovering from prostate cancer, a disease that affects one in eight men. The drive raised £60,000 for the charity Prostate Cancer UK, overtaking the target of £50,000. ‘All the publicity did a great job raising awareness of prostate cancer, which kills a man every hour in the UK,’ notes Porter.
The Jaguar XKs are the perfect cars to serve such a purpose, as these classic 1950s sports cars, launched in 1948 with the rare combination of racing-car performance and superlative beauty, were used to lead Britain’s ‘Export or Die’ campaign after the Second World War. The car’s international appeal was considerable: the XK 120, named for its top speed, was owned by Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Power and, of course, Sir Stirling Moss. It won its first race, dozens in the United States and international rallies, and some 60% of XKs were exported overseas. ‘The forerunners of the E-type were the equally brilliant XK 120s, XK 140s and XK 150s of the ’50s,’ explains Porter. ‘They were the cars that put Jaguar on the worldwide map, were loved by Hollywood stars and were highly successful in racing and rallying.’
The inaugural XK Club RBCD looks set to be as popular as the E-type version. Many participants in the 2016 event vowed to complete more stages in its next incarnation, and some have even bought XKs to take part in the 2017 drive. Everyone pulled together with a tremendous sense of camaraderie, sharing tales of the day’s drive at the evening dinners and brushing off small matters - such as thunderstorms - in the best of spirits. ‘Our crews, our sponsors, our VIPs, my hard-working colleagues and the media all pulled together,’ states Porter. ‘It was very moving but also tremendous fun.’
Many thanks to Jaguar Land Rover UK Press Office for kindly loaning us a Land Rover Discovery for use as a back-up vehicle during the Round Britain Coastal Drive.