2010 New York Auto Show kicks off in Style: Jaguar & Automotive Rhythms unveil 2011 XJ with the NY Giants

While the New York International Auto Show media day was happening a dozen blocks away at the Javits Center, the crew from Jaguar was making magic happen at the 40/40 Club on West 25th Street in Manhattan last Wednesday. Two of the 2011 Jaguar XJ models were parked on the street inches from the club’s doors and people started lining up well before the party started. After a day of press conferences and product intros, across town, the velvet ropes came out and the carpet was laid to welcome VIP guests to a special evening for the British car maker.

Simply put, Automotive Rhythms and Jaguar, along with  Bowers & Wilkins, Storm Watches and the New York Giants put on THE sophisticated Auto Show event that had everyone talking. It started with the 40/40, built up with the 2011 Jaguar and then went skyward from there. If you’ve never been to the 40/40, Automotive Rhythms VIP affair was the night of nights. Lines were snaking down the sidewalk and most people had cameras in hand to shoot the burgundy and silver Jags while they waited to get inside where the music was thumping. To share my description of the club wouldn’t be fair. I was astounded by the leather chairs, the monstrous video screens, the multiple rooms. Even the rest rooms were classy. And the energy on the club floor was palpable.

According to Jaguar/Land Rover North America Communications VP Stuart Schorr, “The new Jaguar lineup of beautiful fast cars are especially appealing to successful tastemakers in sports, entertainment and fashion arenas. Jay-Z’s club was the perfect, high-end fun place to bring the car to the marketplace.” He added that 2010 is going to be huge for the company. It’s Jaguar’s 75th Anniversary and with its return to racing, everyone hopes for increased momentum in the market for the next few years.

I got there early to explore the club while the tunes blasted by DJ L had me checking my jacket pocket to see if my phone was ringing because the vibrations went clear through to my chest. It was that loud, but it was awesome. In fact, once the event kicked off at 8PM, I noticed a bunch of colleagues, a number of auto industry folks, fashion icons, celebrity DJ’s and some pro athletes on site.

Wandering the floor, spread out on couches, chatting at the bar and having a great time were people like Kimatni Rawlins of Automotive Rhythms, Danny Ware and Osi Umenyiora of the NY Giants, funny man Kevin Hart and a contingent of media from publications like Forbes, NPR, Consumer Reports and Black Enterprise. While the music pumped on and guests watched Jaguar and ARtvLive TV segments on the dozens of HDTVs, photographers and videographers made it seem as if the paparazzi from a Hollywood set had broken in. Smiling faces, passed appetizers and tasty drinks were the norm. Throughout the evening, discussions went back and forth to their favorite presentations, the best passed hors d’oeuvres and drinks and the classiest outfit in the club. But talk always seemed to turn back to the cars out front.

Even an admitted car guy who has driven the best vehicles in the world, Kimatni Rawlins offered his thoughts about the new Jaguars. “Jaguar is transcending its image with elevated technology, impressive styling and interactive connectivity through their products and messaging,” said Automotive Rhythms publisher, president & host. “The new XJ is by far the company’s greatest re-invention and positions the brand on equal playing ground with the Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Audi A8. I can’t wait to drive it in a few weeks!”

Rawlins was impressively styled as well (and as usual) in an ensemble from Kustom Looks Clothier of Silver Springs, MD and a massive timepiece from Storm. Similarly attired – and also impressed with the Jaguar – were the two Giants on hand. Running back Danny Ware, signed in December 2007, indicated he was impressed with the new Jaguar. He was also astounded by the turnout and said he appreciated the work all the sponsors put into the evening. Osi Umenyiora, a defensive end on the Giants, was  also outspoken about the new Jaguar, its specifications and looks. In fact, Umenyiora currently drives a Bentley but told me the new Jaguar was his pick as the automobile that’s likely to perform most like a defensive end – with power and grace. Both players also applauded the 40/40 as the right venue for an event introducing the newest Jaguar model. Schorr echoed this feeling and was enthusiastic about the company’s new products. Further, Schorr took the time to discuss cars with the folks on hand, which gets him points in my book. It’s not every day – especially after the official show hours – that a reporter has access to company representatives in a relaxed environment.

In all, I wish every industry gathering could deliver 1/10th of the energy I felt while I was covering the event. There was certainly a lot of buzz about the cars and ready access to intelligent and influential automotive pros. Granted, I was working that night, but even with a notebook in one hand and a recorder in the other, I think that Jaguar party delivered on information and fun.

Like Rawlins, I can’t wait to get my chance behind the wheel of the new 2011 XJ. In fact, I’d like to go for a spin in the XJL Supersport. It’s the top of the 2011 XJ trim at $115,000 MSRP.

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