Accelerative days of Jag’s V12
Launched in 1975 as the replacement for the E-type, the XJS is one of the most popular Jaguar ever made
It was one of the great expressions of the 1970s glory days of big-engined luxury grand tourers.
There had never been anything else like the XJS in the Jaguar line up and when the wraps came off in 1975, those who thought it was a replacement for the early E-Type were very much mistaken.
Whereas the E-Type had been a sports car, the XJS was a supremely silent and very fast grand tourer. In truth it was a beauty.
Even under the constrictions of British Leyland which imposed a long gestation period, the XJS proved itself a Jaguar for a new age.
It did share one thing with the last of the E-Types and that was a V12 engine which gave it astonishing performance with a maximum speed of 150mph and a 0-60mph sprint of 6.8 seconds.
The economy stats would have had the Green lobby running for cover because if you put your foot down you could coax it into single figures. In everyday driving though between 1326mpg was the norm. You were hard pressed to save fuel with this one.
At its launch it was the most expensive Jaguar ever and upstaged much of what was on the market in its sector.
Driving it was somewhat eerie because it was so silent. The V12 whacked out 285bhp and fed through the optional automatic transmission it delivered the sort of seamless and effortless performance most drivers only dreamed of. The silent running was achieved due to a massive amount of sound deadening during construction.
Insulated mountings and moulded sound dampening panels were the order of the day. Even the coiled petrol feed pipe was enclosed in foam tube so that the occupants would not hear the rush of fuel gushing through to quench the thirst of the big 5,343cc V8.
It has been quoted that if the insulation had not been there the fuel rush would have sounded like a bath running out.
Safety rules in those days looked likely to outlaw open topped cars but regulations were rescinded and the XJS soon boasted an open topped version which many regarded as the best looking of all.
There was also a later sixcylinder power option which was a tad slower but averaged 17.6 mph.
But for me the V12 XJS was a true aristocrat of British performance luxury and every time I see one at classic shows it takes me back to the 1970s and letting this supreme big cat off the reins for what was a driving experience from heaven.
GRAND TOURER Created to to replace the iconic E-type, the XJS remained in production for more than 20 years