Jaguar Etiquette:

How to Introduce a Lady to a Fine Automobile

If you already own a Jaguar, you know that there is no other car -- at any price -- that makes a better impression on the ladies. Unfortunately, Jaguar dealers -- especially in the U.S. -- will sell the cars to anyone, and some uncouth Jaguar owners seem determined to destroy this reputation. To try to limit this damage, the following is a set of guidelines for proper behaviour when in the presence of a lady and a Jaguar. If you feel the proper way to pick up a lady is to pull up in the road outside and honk the horn, please trade in your Jaguar on something from Detroit and save the rest of us Jaguar owners the effort of undoing the damage you do.

Of course, those who own other automobiles may benefit from these guidelines. They won't make your car into a Jaguar, but they won't hurt. And it'll be good practice for when you finally get your Jaguar.

First: Always make sure your Jaguar is clean, inside and out, before introducing it to a lady. If she's wearing white and it's not still white when she gets out of the car, she will not be happy -- and therefore neither will you.

If your Jaguar isn't clean, you might as well take the Rambler. Tell all the ladies you meet that your other car is a Jaguar. Might even flash your key fob around. It won't get you anywhere, but face it: if you're not willing to keep your Jaguar clean, you don't deserve to score with the ladies.

As a lady approaches your Jaguar, you must explain -- calmly but firmly -- that the door handles on a Jaguar are not designed to be operated by feminine fingers. You must insist that you open the door for her, both when getting in and getting out. Some ladies are not accustomed to such design features, and may have to be reminded a time or two.

One of the things that ladies consider most important in a Jaguar owner is honesty. I would never suggest that you lie to a lady. In fact, the above statement is entirely true; the Jaguar door handles -- at least the ones on my 1983 XJ-S -- are among the worst contrivances ever conceived for damaging a lady's long fingernails. They are practically a Lee Press-On Guillotine. If the lady breaks a nail or two on the door handles of your Jaguar -- especially if she paid money for those nails -- she will not be happy, and the reputation of the Jaguar marque will have suffered yet another blow.

If the lady resists the suggestion that you must open the door for her, it is probable that she is not worthy of such a fine car. If your taste runs to such women, you might as well be driving a pickup truck.

Believe it or not, it may also be necessary to offer to help fasten and release the lady's safety belt (while you're sitting in the driver's seat, dummy -- no leaning in over her from the passenger's side door!). The latch was designed by the same guy that did the door handles, and may also damage long fingernails.

As the lady steps into, or out of, your Jaguar, you must offer her your hand. This is one of the most difficult and demanding steps you must take if you are to maintain the Jaguar image. The seats in a Jaguar -- especially the more sporting models -- tend to be low and soft. Most ladies will really need to rely on the hand that you offer in order to get in and out of the car in a ladylike fashion.

To do this properly, you must hold your hand firmly in a stationary position, allowing the lady to apply as much or as little weight to that hand as she finds necessary. The hand must not move. Do not push the lady in or yank her out of the car.

All the while, you must convey the image that she is as light as a feather. When she is applying weight to your hand, if you grunt loudly or exclaim "My God, what a hippo you are!", you are not likely to win any points. Gritting your teeth or obviously replanting your feet are not wise either. Therefore, it helps to plan ahead when you position yourself beside the car so that you are ready to provide support without flinching.

I know it's a lot to think about at one time, but as I said, it is one of the most demanding steps. If you wish the lady to behave like a lady, she must continue to feel like a lady. Therefore, while she is using your hand as support to get in and out of your Jaguar, you must be looking the other way. Those seats are low, and getting a good look up her dress as she gets in and out will not make her feel very comfortable or ladylike. In this case, it is most definitely permissable -- even preferable -- to make it obvious and intentional that you are averting your eyes. And, no, you cannot make an exception if she's wearing slacks; it's still a relatively unladylike maneuver getting in and out of a low car, so it is still best if you avert your eyes. Note that James Warren says "I have read advice to female exitees to look the assisting gentleman in the eyes during the process to ensure no wandering gaze. The proper Jag male could adopt this strategy first during the unseemly transition."

One last thing: as you offer her your hand getting in and out, it is not a bad idea to have your other hand on the door. For one thing, it may help support you if she really is a hippo. For another, the springs in Jaguar doors tend to be weak, and you don't want it closing on her or you as she gets in and out.

If you are driving a Porsche, just tell the lady to open her own door. There's nothing about a Porsche that appeals to ladies other than the price tag, and if she's that shallow it won't matter whether you open a door for her or not.

If this is the first time you, the lady, and the Jaguar have gotten together, it is suggested that you leave the stereo off unless the lady asks to hear something. Ladies are generally unimpressed with music anyway, a fact that many gentlemen fail to fully understand. In this case, what is more important is for the lady to appreciate the ambiance of a Jaguar at work; the purr of the 6-cylinder E-type, the hum of the V-12, the silence of the sedans. Each Jaguar has its strengths, and a lady will appreciate all of them. There is no need for music; it just gets in the way.

It is also suggested that the fan on the air conditioning system be on low speed, for the same reason. If it's really hot out, this might have to wait until the interior cools a little, but do your best.

One thing that a lady will not appreciate is the sound of a big block V-8 under the hood. The rumbling of a Chevy lump appeals to some men -- notably the southern American male that chews tobacco and shoots deer -- but it has absolutely no positive effect on ladies. If you have performed a lobotomy on your Jaguar, you might as well turn the stereo on.

Ideally, the proper first impression is best conveyed if the purpose of the ride is just that: going for a ride in the Jaguar. However, it is recognized that this may not always be the case, and the reason this particular lady is getting into your car may be on some thin pretense of going someplace in particular. Having a predetermined destination is one strike against you, and having a deadline for getting there is another. The following guidelines may therefore not be applicable, but do your best.

When a person agrees to go for a ride in a Jaguar, it's usually for one of two reasons: either they want to go for a ride, or they want to go for a ride. In the case of a lady, you must always presume the first case unless the lady makes it clear she's in it for speed.

If possible, choose a rural two-lane road, as scenic as possible. Jaguars are very impressive on the freeway, but this is not the time for such shenanigans. Drive as though you are taking a driving test; stay at or below the speed limit, drive carefully and smoothly, and maintain an overly safe following distance from other cars. A Jaguar will go a long way toward making a lady feel the way she wants to feel: safe and secure. If you drive properly, you will add to this feeling. It also helps to maintain the impression that you are not in a hurry, which is important to most ladies.

Do not drive the car aggressively unless the lady specifically asks you to. Do not even offer to drive fast; assume the ride is to be calm and peaceful unless told otherwise.

Finally, don't get carried away. Driving to the next state is usually not a good idea, but you probably don't wanna be the one to say "Well, it's time to be getting back!" It's also probably not a great idea to be asking "Your place or mine?" or some other obvious line. The best idea may be to have a suitable destination in your mind, a proper distance down the selected road; an ice-cream shop or some such. As you approach it, you can ask if she wishes to stop, or you can demonstrate a take-charge attitude and just pull in. You can discuss mutual interests over ice cream. After that, you're on your own; the Jaguar has done its job.