It was the sound that got me: the gentle purr, which grew quickly into a roar.
I had not been much fussed by sports cars before last week and had never squeezed myself behind the wheel of one. But firing up the engine of the new Jaguar F-Type last week, stirred feelings I never knew that I had.
It was even more exciting than the helicopter ride I had taken the previous day. Of course, things might have been helped by the fact that we were driving through the beautiful Umbrian countryside or indeed the fact that our destinations included a beautiful dinner in the 12 century watchtower at Torre di Moravola (go to both, and take a nice car). But it was really the sound of the engine that sucked me in.
I later learned how much effort had gone into sucking me in. Apparently a couple of engineers had spent three years, using research from Bournemouth University, tuning that sound to a pitch and timbre that could melt the resolve of the strongest of men.
I say men, because I had previously thought that both men and women were impressed by sports cars. Sitting in the car, we seemed to draw, almost exclusively, the attention of other men. From teenage boys on bikes all the way through to local farmers, who could have walked straight off a Dolmio ad, they all stopped and stared as we went by.
The car’s designer talked of its “curves” and “haunches” and showed how the pair of exhaust pipes had been placed suggestively (well, in my mind at least) in the middle of its rear end.
And fellow male road users, meanwhile, seem to want to race you (female drivers are apparently, and happily, untroubled by this urge), and are perturbed when you don’t force the car up to 200 mph.
I had also always thought that driving along those windy roads you see in car ads would just be a motion-sickness-inducing hassle, but on our way to lunch at the Urbani truffle HQ (yes, it was a very tiring trip), I even enjoyed the sharp-cornered mountain pass.
So having gone from one who had never seen himself in a sports car to becoming a convert, I have to reconcile myself to the fact that from next week I’ll once again be taking the tube to work.