In a fast car and with a bit of good fortune, you can drive from Vancouver to San Francisco in 16 hours. That’s head down, eyes on the road, with quick stops and good weather. Total distance: 1,529 km.
I know this because I did it in a Jaguar F-Type, the R, a super-fast convertible with grip at all four wheels, a supercharged, 550 horsepower V-8 under the hood, and a pop-up spoiler at the rear to apply downforce when you’re flying along at highway speeds and beyond. Base price: $120,500, though I have seen discounts that could total $9,000 or more for the right buyer.
For that kind of money you get a killer sports car that has spearheaded the re-imagining of Jaguar in the 21st century. When you look at the F, you do not think of the faulty electronics which plagued Jags for generations. No, you think bad-ass sex appeal – broad shoulders, thick haunches, low stance, long nose and short rear deck. This is what trouble looks like. Beautifully mean and lovingly threatening.
We – my son, Sam and I – thought it looked perfect for a screaming race down the I5 to the City by the Bay. Our goal: drive to San Francisco and back in four days, giving us just enough time to take in two Giants baseball games.
The car itself is both perfect and wrong for such a whirlwind drive. Perfect in that the F flies: 0-100 km/hour in about four seconds in a sports car that will pull a G on a skidpad. The F-Type R is happiest devouring curves, not going in a straight line. It is a delicious, joyous treat for the road warrior. With so much power available in an instant, things happen in a heartbeat. Pay attention or you’re in trouble.
Still, an 18-hour driving day in this baby presents some challenges. The cockpit is tight and the seats only recline a tiny bit. Those buckets have fairly flat bottoms, too, and there’s no room for six-footers and beyond to fully stretch out the legs. Space is not as excruciating as a coach seat on a Rouge flight, but it’s tight, nonetheless. And no real reclining for napping.
We weren’t chasing boulevard-cruiser comfort, anyway. We used our Vanishing Point-like tear to the Bay to take in the road, the scenery and each other. We traded off manning the iPods and running tunes from the shotgun seat.
For me it was a Baby Boomer mix, from Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen. For Millennial Sam, Ed Sheeran to Imagine Dragons. And we talked about everything and nothing, which is what happens on a long road trip.
The stated goal may have been to catch a couple of ball games, but in truth, the trip was the destination. We aimed for baseball on a sunny afternoon watching the team Willie Mays built – Willie Mays being the greatest ball player of all time, of course. The true goal was to share time as it unfolded with the road ahead.
The bonus was 32 hours of driving that sexy beast of a Jaguar. Spectacular all around.