Which means that being 40 minutes outside the Big Apple there were plenty of great experiences; and living in Motown also brought a lot of great happenings.
In 1992 Jaguar Cars North America brought the one-and-only XJ-13 to the USA for displays and for laps at Laguna Seca as part of Jaguar being the Honoured Marque at the Monterey Historic Races.
|(Photo by the late Karen Miller, Chief Archivist for Jaguar Cars North America)|
We brought it to Head Office in Mahwah, NJ, just prior to it being returned home to Coventry, and I got to drive it from the rear of the building to the front so the employees could come take a look. Short drive, sure, but very memorable.
The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2006 invited a host of famous American racing legends, and I was happy to pose with Bobby Unser and Johnny Rutherford, whom I met in 1993 during the Jaguar Fast Master Series. Bobby won the Series, and Johnny came second! They are two of the nicest guys I have ever met. Johnny is in his mid 70s, and Bobby turns 80 this year, and they're still smiling!
In 2006 one of the last PR events I attended was the 'Ragtop Ramble', an annual event arranged by the Boston-based New England Motor Press Association.
These guys are probably the funniest, friendliest motor press group as a whole. It's a small group, led by my good buddy Bugsy Lawlor, and their welcome and generosity is overpowering. You can only attend (as a PR person), if you have a convertible in your range.
I brought along a Bentley Azure convertible, but the deal is you give up your car, and sample all the others.
I loved the Cadillac XLR and the Corvette.
The 2009 Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach was the launch event for the Bentley Mulsanne sedan, but as I had retired by then, I was loaned another VW Group car for the week.
The Passat CC was an absolute delight. It's quiet, comfortable, stylish and turns plenty of heads. I gave Sir Stirling and Lady Moss a lift back to the Inn at Spanish Bay after a cocktail party, after which Stirling told me he couldn't see why you'd pay for a Bentley, when a VW was this good! High praise indeed.
I was fortunate to have a good friendship with Bob Lutz when he was product guru at GM. We came to a deal, I would loan him a Bentley Continental GT coupe for a weekend; and he would return the favour, by loaning me a Cadillac STS-V, providing I gave him an honest critique of the car when I returned it.
It was a good car, but the 'tuning' of the front-rear balance of the All Wheel Drive system was atrocious, and there were a few times when adventurous driving nearly landed me in the scenery.
I reported this when I returned the car and got a very appreciative letter back from the Cadillac STS program director, Dave Leone, saying they agreed, and would work on it some more to get it right.
I loaned them my company car, an Audi A6 V8 Quattro for a day or so, and after all the product team drove it, they agreed they had quite a ways to go to make the Caddy competitive with such a refined European-bred car.