I drive North American, but dream British

I very quickly found, in my job as a news reporter, a vehicle was as essential as a notebook.

Many of us have owned multiple cars over the years. I think that can be said of most adult Canadians.

Achieving the qualifying 16 years of age in this country offers this tantalizing opportunity to our young men and women – starting with a driver’s licence.

Growing up in Scotland, in the early 1950s, I was not affluent enough to even think of pursuing a licence at the age of 16, with 17 being the age for driving. I owned a good bicycle, buses were frequent and trains could get you anywhere in the region very quickly.

However, when I came to Saint John, N.B. in 1960 – I very quickly found, in my job as a news reporter, a vehicle was as essential as a notebook. So I made arrangements to learn to drive and bought a 1955 Dodge. I knew nothing about North American cars – or used car dealerships, and my Dodge required a new water pump on its second day.

Since then I’ve owned a wide range of vehicles, North American, British, Japanese and German.

But in the back of my mind, and again likely the results of Scottish boyhood conversations, I’ve always wished and hoped to own a Land Rover or a Jaguar.

I never have, but I’ve always seen and really liked them and occasionally I have been driven in other people’s, but I never yet owned one and it seems quite unlikely now that I ever will.

For me, there’s always been something quite inspiring about both legendary vehicles – the Land Rover being the rugged and reliable British equivalent of the small-j jeep.

It has seemingly explored every wilderness and jungle in the world, while the Jag, that sleek sports and racing car, has always been an iconic symbol of British automotive history – and a movies staple! (Not a Bond car though?)

I can often be distracted from my frequent browsing on the internet by news stories about either vehicle. Just like today, when I learned through the BBC that criminal gangs in many countries now target Land Rovers for theft, even tracing them by GPS.

An interesting sideline was that they are more easily and safely sold by thieves as parts, because they can be quickly stripped down – a couple of hours is all it takes.

Thus, it kind of disappoints me in a way that both of these vehicle lines are now owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors, a subsidiary of India’s huge Tata Group conglomerate, which, in turn, bought them from Ford, which had owned them for a decade.

But they are still mainly manufactured in the U.K.

Are Land Rovers still as long-lasting as they are reputed? Apparently so, because a vehicle that was abandoned and left to rust on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, some 60 years ago, has been recovered recently and restored by a collector.

It wound up abandoned after being one of two Land Rovers used by six students from Oxford and Cambridge who set out to drive from London to Singapore in 1955, to create documentaries for Sir David Attenborough.

It was recovered and brought back to the UK and lovingly renovated and has since also been returned to some of its original owners. That’s devotion!

So these two cars I fancy remain both profitable and highly in demand, not only in Europe and North America. Jags create interest everywhere and even Chinese sales jumped 94 per cent over a couple of months this fall, making it the biggest single market.

And I guess they will continue to be just as popular in the future because the manufacturers have decided that they will offer electric and hybrid versions of all Jaguar models it makes, in addition to gasoline and diesels.

In North America, the average Jaguar sells for over $55,000 and the average Land Rover for more than $70,000, so they are still transportation and fun for the affluent.

So if batteries, which happen to be the main driver of costs in electric cars, do boost the cost of a sports car or an SUV a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars to the price, they probably won’t worry too much. And there’s still the lottery.