Monday, July 30, 2012

Top Five Country Singer Car Deaths

First their lover left them… then their dog died… then so did they. In their car.

Hank Williams d 1953
The car: 1952 Cadillac convertible
Perhaps the most revered country musician of all, passed away in the back of a car while being driven to a gig in Charleston by a student ironically named Charles Carr. Cause of death, according to the coroner, was "acute right ventricular dilation"… or to put it another way… ole Hank died of a broken heart.

 Johnny Horton d 1960
The car: 1959 Cadillac
With his good looks and a 1960 Best Country & Western Song Grammy for "The Battle of New Orleans", fame and fortune beckoned Johnny. Unfortunately so did a certain Mr Death. The night Johnny died, he was driving his Cadillac home from the Austin Skylight Club. The Austin Skylight Club was also the last place Hank Williams played… Hank Williams also owned a Caddy… and Johnny had married Hank’s widow, Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar.

Dottie West d 1960
The car: 1982 Plymouth Reliant
Best known for her emotional country ballads with King Of The Emotional Country Ballads, Kenny Rogers, Dottie was killed when her 81-year-old neighbour lost control of the car he was driving Dottie to a show in. Dottie’s car – one given to her by Kenny – wouldn’t start and old Mr Thackton kindly offered her a lift…

Billy Walker d 2006
The car: Transit Van
Best known for his 1962 hit “(I’d Like To Be In) Charlie’s Shoes", Billy was a card-carrying Nashville legend with 24 albums during his 60-year career. Driving back to Nashville after a performance in Foley, Alabama, the van he was driving veered of Interstate 65 in the early hours of the morning killing Billy, his wife, and two other band members.

Betty Jack Davis Walker d 1953
The car: unknown
The Davis Sisters were best known for their confidently-titled 1953 hit, “I’ll Forget More Than You’ll Ever Know”. It was a song that Betty Jack and her identically-surnamed-but-unrelated musical partner Skeeter Davis sung to no.1 on the US country charts. Sadly, soon after the release of their hit, their car was involved in a head-on collision. Betty Jack was killed instantly but Skeeter survived with concussion and internal injuries

Curried Cat. It’s really good

On Test… the Jaguar XFR and the Jaguar XKR

Hot and sweaty…. usually that’s a fairly uncomfortable state to be in. There are, however, three situations where the spike in one’s temperature can be the result of something altogether more pleasurable.

And for two of those, one can thank the wonderful people of India.

Firstly, there’s nothing like a potent Indian curry to get the juices flowing. A good Vindaloo or, if you’re really brave, a Phal will open your pores faster than a Finnish sauna packed with Swedish supermodels.

And secondly, there’s an Indian car called a Jaguar. Especially one with the letter “R” affixed to its arse. Yes, Jaguar – though the Brits don’t like to talk about it much – is in fact owned by the Indians. Tata are India’s largest automobile company and four years ago they bought both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. And thank Ghandi for that. Since then both brands have flourished – none more so than Jag. And none more so than Jags called “something something R”.

Recently we’ve had the pleasure to drive both the Jaguar XKR sportscar and the XFR saloon. In both instances the “R” stands for Reallyfast and that’s because both share a brilliant lump of metal that is Jag’s supercharged 5.0-litre V8. It’s a wonder. The engine sends 375kW barreling to the rear wheels – two sizey bands of rubber that are barely able to transmit all that wattage to the road. Both the XKR and the XFR will easily do 250km/h (more like 300km/h if you removed its electronic engine management shackles), but that’s not its most impressive bit. It’s the 625Nm of torque, the low down grunt, the midrange power the engine has to accelerate in third, fourth and fifth gear that is simply gobsmacking.

Jaguar XFR

And so is the price. Both are over a million South African Rands, and the lithe XKR is a couple of R100k dearer than its four-door sibling. In this price-bracket though, a couple of hundred thou isn’t going to break the bank now is it, and it’s practicality and a measure of personal taste that will dictate your choice of cat.

Both cars are fairly heavy topping the two ton mark, but their road dynamics belie their bulk and both are nimble and agile through the corners. Gradually pushing the car’s adhesive limits is well advised and even with the traction control gizmos switched on, all that power does cause the back end to let go should you flex your right ankle at the a little too early while exiting a corner.

Jaguar XKR

It’s a simple choice in the end. Do you want to go really fast and leave great swathes of tyre rubber in your wake with a couple of passengers in the rear seats? Or do you want to go really fast and leave great swathes of tyre rubber in your wake with only, maybe, one person sitting next to you? If it’s the former, get the XFR… the latter, then the XKR should be parked in your garage. You lucky bastard.

The Jaguar XKR costs R1 260 400 and the Jaguar XFR costsR1 044 900

(as appeared in the June issue of the Kuluma, the Kulula airline in-flight mag)