The most beautiful car ever built

I usually don’t write about books I read, or even reviews. So, this is a rare occasion, but it’s also a type of book that I only rarely read. Usually I just give ratings on goodreads. This book is about the Jaguar XJ13.  Now, beauty is a matter of taste, so you’re free to disagree, but I for myself have never seen a more beautiful car than the Jaguar XJ13. It was designed by Malcolm Sayer who also designed the iconic E-Type, the successful racing C- and D-Types as well as (my) XJS.

The XJ13 was designed to win the 24 hours race in Le Mans, to carry on with the victories Jaguar had in the fifties. As Jaguar were too hesitant at the time of development and as a consequence of a change in the rules for the Le Mans race, the car never took part in an actual race. Nevertheless it held a lap record for the MIRA test track for 30 years. Only ever one was built and it had a horrible crash while filming for an advertisement. The car was later rebuilt to it’s full beauty. It now belongs to the Jaguar heritage trust, and not even an arab sheikh bidding seven million british pounds could buy it.

As I was never involved in the design or engineering process of neither a car nor an engine, it was totally exciting and interesting to learn how all these processes work. Or should I say worked fifty years ago? No point in listing all the details here, but the book has full coverage of the engine design and testing as well of the body design as well as the testing of the car itself on the test track as well as the race track.

The stuff is especially interesting, as the engine that was developed for XJ13 was Jaguar’s first V12, and a predecessor of the engine that powers my XJS.

At the end of the book there is a short discussion of the die cast models available. By chance I found out that the same model, I own is now on ebay for four times of what I payed ten years ago. Now, I’m still looking for a 1:18 model of the C-X75.

The most memorable quote from the book is when Malcolm Sayer describes how he designed the car to not being negatively influenced by the airflow. No lift, no pushing down and no effects from wind from the side. The wings at the tail of some other cars were unacceptable for him. He described them as a kludge to fix design mistakes. Noone at Jaguar understood how he calculated the shapes. Instead or or in addition to drawings he also calculated books full of numbers. From the descriptions given, it’s hard to tell if his proceedings would today be described as parametric surfaces. So, in a way he performed CAD without a computer.

Chiemsee Holiday

Like for most people around here, summer holidays for us usually means going south. And that is what we usually did in the past. This year, we wanted something new. The countries north of Switzerland were unexplored territory for us in regards of holiday destinations. We had ideas to go to the netherlands, Belgium or the Provence. The Nordic countries, we wanted to save for later, for a bigger trip when the boys grow older. After some brainstorming and discussing, we settled on the north sea cost of Germany. It would be a long drive, but manageable wit the current age of our boys. Then we found out that Levin is still allergic to fish. So we figured, that going to the sea might be not such a great idea. At least a lake we needed so that we could do some kayaking. Thus, the next best thing was the Bavarian sea: the Chiemsee.
We both didn’t know the area. The closest I was before, was Berchtesgaden, where I was competing in the 2005 German paragliding championship. Lots of people told us that it is a very nice area. So we looked forward to it.
The day we drove there was full of postponings. We left only in the middle of the afternoon, and so we didn’t make it in time to check into the camping. Consequently, we had to sleep the first night parking in the driveway, with all the luggage still in the camper.

Our first canoe excursion was not so pleasant, as Noah didn’t sleep enough, and so he complained all the time. The area was nice indeed with lots of activities for the kids. Definitely the highlight was the fairy tale theme park in Ruhpolding. It is a paradise for kids, full of ingenious playgrounds and stuff to explore. Neither the flyer nor the homepage can describe how good it is. If you’re in the area with children, you have to go there!

The Chiemsee is on the flat land but very close to the mountains. As it’s on the flat, the underground is all mud. I had heard of two nearby flying sites before: Hochfelln and Hochries. One day we wanted to go to the Hochries, but the easterly wind was not suited for flying there, and the one person chairlift was a no-go for Mirella anyway. So we went to Kössen just after the Austrian border. I was very positively surprised of the flying area. It was well protected from the prevailing wind, and had enough room for many paragliders on takeoff and in the air. It reminded me a lot of Gstaad. After about an hour flying in the gentle thermals above takeoff, I decided it’s time to look after my family. Then I found out that landing next to the cablecar was the trickiest part of the flight. There were lots of small thermals close to the landing area.

One day we took the boat across the lake to have a ride with an old steam train. The boys were totally excited by the ancient technology. Next, we visited the castle on the main island. It was built for the fairy tail king Ludwig the second, who also built castle Neuschwanenstein. The castle on the Chiemsee island is a copy of the french Versailles palace, and although not finished, full of excessive splendour.

On the way home, we stopped in Munich to visit the BMW world with our two car fanatics. From every model sold in the BMW group, there was a piece in the exhibition. The kids could sit into all but the Rolls Royce. We had a hard time to get them out again.