A few funereal faces in the executive ranks would not have been out of order during the recent introduction of the new Jaguar XJS at the British carmaker's American headquarters in Mahwah, N.J. After all, Jaguar sales, like those of other expensive driveway furniture, have suffered in these recessionary times.
But U.S. sales figures that look like London during the Blitz were not cause enough for the stouthearted Englishmen in the Jaguar bomb shelter to lose their sense of humor.
Thus it was that Michael Dale, head of the company's U.S. operations, began by congratulating his predecessor, Graham Whitehead, on the "impeccable" timing of his October 1990 retirement. He felt it was quite a good show on Mr. Whitehead's part to bolt from the sales kitchen just before the Yorkshire pudding hit the exhaust fan. Mr. Dale then offered a more direct assessment of Jaguar's sales woes: