I had a Jaguar XK Convertible waiting for me when I arrived at the Atlanta airport from the Ram 1500 event in Nashville last week. It made me happy.
I wasn't prepared to drive a convertible home, which translates: I didn't have a cap with me. But skin cancer be damned, I was going to drop the top. I mean, if you are going to drive a $100,000 convertible -- the actual price with about $8,500 worth of options and delivery charge was $99,350 -- you want to enjoy the whole enchilada.
This is a primo showing-off car. You can't drive it 10 feet without attracting attention. It's 385-horsepower 5-liter V8 is an ass kicker of monumental proportions. It'll push the XK ragtop to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just over five seconds.
Whether it's the XK's sultry exterior lines or the opulent interior with its yards of supple leather interrupted by real wood accents, the styling is a rare combination of heritage and timelessness.
Because I am a creature of habit, I hang out at a lot of the same places week after week. People know me and know what I do for a living. Wherever I go, someone is bound to ask, "What are driving?" Followed by, "How do you like it?"
If I'm driving a Ford Focus or a Kia Optima, I fully expect the "How do you like it" question.
But a Jaguar XK Convertible...
How do I like it? What answer are they expecting: "It sucks to be me?"
It's a $100,000 XK Convertible for the love of God!
My stock answer to that question this week has been, "What's not to like?" The "Dumbass" tacked on to the end is implied.
I took an uber-early flight out of Nashville that morning with the -- what now seems silly -- idea that I would get back to Greenville in time to get some work done.
I landed in Atlanta and was in the Jag on the road home by 10:30 a.m. My ETA into Greenville was 1 p.m.
Atlanta traffic seems to be in rush-hour mode about 18 hours a day. Unless I have a late-night arrival into the airport, which is south of downtown, I take the eastern half of the I-285 loop that hooks into I-85 northeast of the city.
Things were going beautifully until I hit a wall of stalled traffic about 3 miles from the Georgia-South Carolina border. With less than 50 miles to go to my driveway, I was stuck.
After not moving so much as an inch in 15 or 20 minutes, I pushed the button to put up the top and watched as several mechanisms and servos kicked into action completing the task in about 30 seconds.
Once protected from the sun, I was free to dig around in my suitcase for a bag of honey-roasted peanuts I had liberated from the Ram hospitality suite at the Nashville hotel.
I got out of the Jag and sat on the guardrail next to the highway munching on peanuts, sipping water and watching traffic simply sit in place.
After an hour and a half of this nonsense, the Georgia Highway Patrol finally released traffic, allowing those of us who were so inclined to get off I-85 at the next exit to take the detour they had established around the accident area.
Apparently a bus from what must be the unluckiest bus company in America caught fire as it was motoring east on I-85. This was another Megabus bus. Only a few days earlier another bus from the same company ran into a bridge, killing one passenger and injuring scores of others. "I believe I'll walk; thank-you very much."
I pulled off of I-85 along with hundreds of other drivers. Unfortunately, this mishap occurred at Lake Hartwell. The detour required looping around the lake before reacquiring I-85 near Anderson, SC.
It added about 30 miles to the trip. It was a miserable 30 miles and a total waste of the show-off car I was piloting.
I had to navigate through two or three little piss-ant towns with more traffic lights than residents. It was stop and go almost the entire way. It's what happens when you suddenly increase the flow of traffic by about 500%.
My drive from Atlanta airport to my door typically eats up two and a half hours. On this day, it took over five.
Thankfully I was on my way home from the airport and not on my way to the airport.
I'm still waiting for that day.