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Letter from Europe- Jag I-Pace, Dodge Charger And Just In Time For The Holiday's A Great Car Book Authored By A Great Car Guy


Letter from Europe
by Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief


I had the honor of being part of the CAR magazine team which presented the Car of the Year trophy to Sir William Lyons, boss of Jaguar back in 1969.

Things have changed somewhat but my association to the great marque is as great as ever.

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They have been through some rough patches but now that the giant Indian conglomerate TATA is running the show things are really happening. As is the case of the I-Pace, the first all-electric luxury SUV on sale in the United States.

The car I was to test arrived with about 200 miles on the clock so there was no danger of grinding to a halt with no charging stations for miles around.

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As a matter of fact EV charging stations are bit like wild mushrooms in Marin County-they are everywhere and once  you have figured out all the various bits and knobs on the dashboard there is a map showing just where the stations are. Mine was right next to the polling station in Belvedere which was perfect and furthermore one of the two was available.

So far so good but how about the Jag itself? Opinions vary on the styling, I would describe it as macho.

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Even though it is pretty complicated in many respects if all you want to do is drive-can do. Press start, press D and off you go. Rapidly I hasten to add. The company claims an amazing 0-60 figure of 4.5 seconds which is genuine-I’ve tried -but more to the point when it comes to passing other cars it is simply staggering. Now comes the down side.

The minute you take your foot off the accelerator there is a lurch. . .a big lurch...a see-your-lunch-again lurch. I started to panic but I should have known Jaguar better. A frantic call to the company’s EV guru explained that there is another mode. One I would call normal. May not regenerate electricity but that is just fine with me.

Jaguar are famous for their ride and handling and sure enough the SUV was up to the test on massive Pirelli tires.

To see how potential buyers would cope with all the idiosyncrasies  I went to see Marin Country’s top Jaguar dealer in Corte Madera run by Tom Price and his family. Very well, I hasten to add. Had a chat with the salesman who was very much on the ball. Explained how the screen slides, just like on an iPhone adding that the first cars were due any day and that yes, they have received several orders for the I Pace. Also mentioned that in addition to the salesman there is also an encore man.

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This is the guy who will turn up at your home and calm you down after making a mess of trying to find a radio station. Or some other quirky stuff. Trust me, unless you work in Silicon Valley you’ll need him.

The price of the Jag is between 70-90 thousand dollars which is in line with Tesla prices.

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Dislikes - rear vision. Personal choice-if you like the sloping back you end up with one, just like you would in a Mercedes.

Now to the 70 thousand dollar question-would I buy one? The answer has to be no. I don’t need an SUV. On the  other hand I hope the company will make a smaller, less expensive version of the same.

At that point I could be very interested indeed.  

Now for something totally different. The Dodge Charger R/T. America’s last four-door muscle car. Astonishingly enough prices start at 30 thousand dollars! For this you get a rear-wheel drive (none of this pansy front-wheel drive nonsense) with four doors and grunt. Lots of it.

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Just think. Hemi power- not to mention Hemi torque- a gorgeous sounding 5.7 liter engine.

You would have thought that with all the brouhaha the days of Dodge would be numbered. Go to Texas and see for yourself. In fact the line-up is bigger than ever. You have V6 engines and V8 engines. You start at around 300 horsepower and finish in the stratosphere. The 8 speed auto is perfect although for real macho guys a good old fashioned stick shift would be just amazing.

Inside there is a 7 inch infotainment  system which works just fine. In my case being a total Apple nut the CarPlay worked just fine.

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It so happened that I got the Dodge for test just as I was launching my new book-Frankly Frankl-life, love, luck and automobiles. The Dodge-in bright yellow- was exactly what I was hoping for, the nearest thing to a Cannonball racer. Why Cannonball? Well, I raced in the ’79 illegal dash across the States and even though we came dead last I flew back to England with the trophy-last but not lost. Consequently when-on a race track I was able to accelerate the Dodge the way some of the Cannonball participants did all those years ago it brought back some wonderful memories.

Anything wrong with the R/T?  My geographic location. In Belvedere the speed limit is 25 miles per hour-something I could double in first gear. Now if I were to relocate to Texas it would be an entirely different ball game. I notice that the cheapest around here goes for about 30 thousand, the one I had and loved is advertised locally for 42 grand.

A steal if you ask me.

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Incidentally if you would like to buy one of the 499 copies printed-and walking off the shelf about as fast as the Dodge-send me an e mail to or buy one on Amazon.