HISTORY: How US safety laws shaped Jaguar’s al fresco offerings
When the Jaguar XJ-S came along in 1975, there was no open air variant. Fears that the big yet safety hysterical market of the United States was about to outlaw convertible cars meant that one wasn’t developed. When American legislators’ panic about people driving cars without a tin top receded, Jaguar belatedly got around to launching an al fresco variant in 1983, the same year its new 3.6-litre AJ6 six-cylinder engine debuted. Both helped spark new interest in the eight-year old XJ-S.
The XJ-SC wasn’t a full-on convertible but had removable glassfibre panels, a rear soft hood section and the side windows still in place strengthened by a roll-over bar at the B-pillars. The cars were laboriously built as full coupés and then had their roofs removed and rear buttresses ground down. Unfortunately, the cabriolet wasn’t as successful as Jaguar had hoped for, as the top was manual rather than electric. In 1987, the XJ-S was finally properly re-engineered as a complete convertible.