Jaguar XJS

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Jaguar XJS

1975 - 1991
United Kingdom
6 cyl. or V-12
3980 cc / 5343 cc
295 bhp / 220 kw
3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
147 mph / 237 km/h
Number Built:
2 star
Launched as the replacement for the E-type in 1975, and available in either coupe or convertible format, the XJ-S is now getting the recognition it deserves. Suffering a reputation for unreliability and poor build quality, Jaguar went to great lengths to rectify the production line problems and many fine examples of the marque can be still be seen on the motorways today.

If you had always hankered for a XJS, now would be the right time to purchase one. Most if not all the initial problems with the vehicle will have been well sorted, and by seeking out the right repairers and mechanics even the servicing of the awesome V12 are not prohibitive.

Sure, the V12's fuel consumption is about 16-20mpg, but when you plant the foot this car really does get up and go. The six-cylinder models, made from 1983, are far more frugal and while not up to the V12's impressive proportions, are still quick, especially in later 4.0-liter guise.

Another advantage of the six-cylinder model is a four-speed automatic gearbox instead of the three-speed version. Manual transmission was also offered but most models, especially the later ones, were automatics. Handling and ride quality has always been exceptional, and prices for good examples seem to be on the rise.

The Mighty XJS-HE

By the time of the XJS-HE's (High Efficiency) release, the XJS had built an enviable reputation as being one of the world's fastest sports coupes, and arguably the most refined. In HE guise, the XJS was offered blistering performance, with a top speed in excess of 250 km/h courtesy of the massive power on tap from the 5.3 liter V12 engine.

The GM 400 automatic transmission was retained, although it was coupled to a new gear selector. A limited slip differential was used to help transmit all that power to the road.

The stylists also gave the HE a makeover, new exterior features including restyled bumpers and wheels which enhanced the already graceful sports styling. Inside the cabin was even more opulent, with lavish use of both leather and elm burr veneer.

tires were increased in size from 205 to 215/70 VR with a corresponding increase, to 6.5 inches, in wheel size. The sleek lines of the XJS were enhanced by the use of the Series III sedan-style, rubber faced bumpers, with twin rear fog-guard lamps being incorporated into the bumper and indicator lenses being similarly recessed in the front bumper.

New five spoke dome design alloy road wheels finished in grey and bright silver added further distinction. They included lengthened, black finish wheel nuts and a Jaguar head badge fitted to the wheel centre. A tapering, twin coachline in a contrasting color swept the length of the body. When you opened the door of the HE XJS, you would be immediately stuck by the unmistakable aroma of the best Connolly hide upholstery. For the HE, the leather was extended to the door casings, the rear quarter casings and, in a saddle-stitched style, to the centre console including the centre arm-rest which included a stowage recess.

Despite the plethorea of changes, the major visual change remained the revision to the traditional Jaguar trademark of hand-crafted polished wood veneer trims. The sheen of the elm burr veneer enriched the facia, glove box and central switch panel, while discreet inset fillers of the same material complemented the leather door casings.

Deceptively Fast

The XJS was a deceptively fast car, mainly due to the effortless way it went about it. In its time it was one of the quietest cars on the road, and from within the cabin it gave no hint as to the tremendous potential of the massive 5.3 liter V12 engine. The HE combined with a taller final drive gearing to allow a top speed a touch over 250 km/h, but the reality was that the taller gearing gave slightly better fuel economy at cruising speeds. It was every bit an enthusiasts car when new, and remains so to this day.

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Also see:

Jaguar Heritage
Swallow Sidecars - The William Lyons Story
Jaguar - A Racing Pedigree
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