Breath­tak­ing big cat grand tourer

Pro­duced by Jaguar from 1976 to 1996, the XJS was a prime ex­am­ple of what the Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer could achieve mov­ing into a new age

Rutherglen Reformer - - Drivetime - Ian John­son

IN the early 1970s the de­sign bosses at Jaguar were look­ing to new hori­zons to pro­vide a re­place­ment for the age­ing E-Type.

What ac­tu­ally came out of a pro­tracted ges­ta­tion pe­riod in 1975 was cer­tainly not an outand-out sports car in the E-Type mould but a glitzy grand tourer chris­tened the XJS.

What the XJS did was to de­velop the path that the later E-Types took with lon­g­legged V12 power and a rather com­fort­able out­look on per­for­mance driv­ing.

It was an early ex­am­ple of plat­form en­gi­neer­ing, tak­ing the foun­da­tions of the short wheel­base XJ12 with stylists mov­ing the rear bulk­head and cre­at­ing a sleek and very sexy fixed-head coupe body.

A mas­sive amount of sound­proof­ing work went on the make the XJS a silent but very ag­ile per­former.

Even the coiled petrol feed pipe was en­cased in foam so that the oc­cu­pants would not hear the gush­ing of prodi­gious amounts of petrol hurl­ing through like a drain­ing bath to feed the 5,343cc V12 which could eas­ily whisk the car to 150mph, but only re­turn 10-21mpg.

I re­mem­ber driv­ing one of th­ese cars un­der heavy ac­cel­er­a­tion when the mpg fig­ure was head­ing into sin­gle fig­ures and I am sure I saw the fuel gauge nee­dle ac­tu­ally move.

But keep­ing an eye on the fuel was not what you did with this car which was a prime ex­am­ple of what could be achieved as Jaguar moved into a new age.

The XJS was built un­der Bri­tish Ley­land own­er­ship and was not with­out its prob­lems, but cer­tainly not as bad as the prod­ucts turned out by some other BL com­pa­nies.

It was also slated as not be­ing a fit­ting suc­ces­sor to the E-Type, but it was a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal and it was only when it was well into its pro­duc­tion run that it was given the praise that it truly de­served.

Devel­op­ment had be­gun in the late 1960s and its tim­ing was not good as it was un­veiled in the wake of a fuel cri­sis.

It s styling was con­tro­ver­sial with but­tresses ris­ing from the top of the rear wing to the roof, a fea­ture that caused wor­ries in Ger­many that rear vis­i­bil­ity was af­fected.

The po­ten­tial of the XJS was seized upon by the TV in­dus­try, the car be­com­ing a star in The New Avengers and Re­turn of the Saint.

It was later de­vel­oped into a con­vert­ible and cus­tomers were also of­fered a straight-six 3.6- litre ver­sion which gave a lower top speed but also bet­ter fuel con­sump­tion of 17.6mpg which did help sales.

But I was an ad­dict of the V12 which I have al­ways viewed as one of the truly great cars of its day. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the mus­cu­lar, slinky and to­tally im­pres­sive way this car went out be­ing a true grand tourer was one of the high points of my ca­reer - a sad day when it drove into the his­tory books in 1996.

GRAN TURISMO The 1991 Jaguar XJS V12

Vogue 1976 Model, sit­ting on the hood of a Jaguar XJ-S

THE RE­TURN OF THE SAINT ac­tor Ian Ogilvy with his Jaguar XJS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.