One day we will laugh about this. We were making a film for the chaps at XCAR about Roy ‘the weasel’ James, one of the lesser-known great train robbers, racing driver and Jag man. Jaguar had kindly sent us a 550BHP Jaguar XJR, our chum Olly turned up in a classic S type and the Great Central Railway turned a blind eye as we thundered up and down their yards and stations and told the story of the involvement of a talented racing driver in one of the biggest robberies in British history.

Jaguar restoration from the splined hub - classis S type (2)

I had done my research into ‘the weasel’. He was perhaps the greatest getaway driver ever, not a robber who raced a bit, but a racer who only robbed to fund his racing. He allegedly bought a Brabham after robbing an airline and supposedly bought an E type with his proceeds from the great train robbery.  There is a lot of allegedly and supposedly here – he was never caught. There are also some amusing if somewhat tenuous anecdotes about his relationship with Bernie Ecclestone. We did lots of iffy driving and big skids and told the story for the camera. We were playing at being getaway drivers. Great fun.

new Jaguar XJR (8)

The XJR does 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, the supercharged V8 has no lag and the steering, brakes and handling make you forget the size and power of the thing. It feels, at times, like it is trying to rip it’s own tyres off. People seem to love Jaguars. We turned up, uninvited, to film outside a stately home. Someone came out with a pot of tea and complimented us on our Brown’s Lane beauties. This doesn’t happen with German metal. The XJR gives the feeling you can get away with murder. Olly’s S type probably has had a few stiffs in the boot over the years. Jaguars have a certain character you don’t find with other marques, they seem to encourage you to misbehave. This is starting to sound like an excuse, isn’t it? In the old days cops and robbers both drove fast Jags and knew the rules of engagement. Nowadays overworked cops drive unmarked BMWs and the robbers are actually motoring presenters pretending to be getaway drivers in a bright red press-fleet XJR. The film, with an unexpectedly abrupt ending, is out on XCAR’s YouTube channel now.

 


As a footnote to this story, some acknowledgements; Olly’s business, the splined hub, is a great place to get your classic Jaguar restored and serviced. We can think of no finer car to buy with ill-gotten gains than a new Jaguar XJR, it’s MotorPunk’s car of the year. Finally, Nick ‘Mr loophole’ Freeman is the man for challenging motoring convictions. 

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