The gasoline crisis may come and may go, but William Lovell's love affair with the automobile is undiminished.

A 34-year-old bachelor who lives Gaithersburg and commutes to Fairfax County, Lovell's reaction to the current gasoline shortage is admitted different from most.

But then as an executive in the American Automobile Association's national headquarters and as the owner of a cream white 1961 Jaguar Mark IX, neither Lovell nor his automobile are typical.

"I haven't taken a long trip in the Jag in a while," Lovell conceded in an interview "it just isn't cost effective. But it has a 20-gallon tank."

And that is more than enough to stop Lovell from doing what many Washingtonians are considering Junking their old fuel-inefficient automobiles for smaller economy models. "I owned another Jag 10 years ago, and I made the mistake of selling it," says Lovell. "I won't sell this one unless i'm hurting for my next meal."

That meal could just as easily be served up inside the Jag. There is a wet bar in the rear seat, two fold-down tables and a mahogany dash. The car weighs 4,200 pounds, has "the aerodynamics of a brick," and is Lovell says with glee," a throwback to a time that will never come again."

"There is a great sense of prestige when you drive it," Lovell says. "You sit way up above everyone else. You really command the terrain."

Lovell bought the car two years ago for $6,000. Now he says, it is worth $8,000. "I guess, he adds,' you might call this poor man's Roll Royce. But it isn't a show car. I love driving it."