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CATEGORIES (articles) > Donor vehicle information > Jaguar > Jaguar XJS overview

Jaguar XJS overview

1989 Jaguar XJ-S
Jaguar XJ-S
Manufacturer: Jaguar Cars
Production: 1976–1996
Class: GT car
Predecessor: Jaguar E-Type
Successor: Jaguar XK8
Mark I
Production: 1976–1980
Body Styles: FR 2-door coupe
Engines: 5.3 L Jaguar V12
Mark II
Production: 1981–1990
Body Styles: FR 2-door coupe
FR 2-door convertible
Engines: 3.6 L AJ6 I6
5.3 L HE V12
Mark III
Production: 1991–1996
Body Styles: FR 2-door coupe
FR 2-seat convertible
FR 2+2 convertible
Engines: 4.0 L AJ6 I6
5.3 L HE V12
6.0 L HE V12
1988 Jaguar XJ-S

The Jaguar XJ-S (later the XJS) was a luxury GT coupe from Jaguar. The XJ-S replaced the legendary Jaguar E-Type in September, 1975, and was based on the XJ saloon. It had been developed as the XK-F, though it was very different in character from its predecessor. Although it never had quite the same sporting image, the XJ-S was a competent grand tourer and, in fact, more aerodynamic than the E-type. The last XJS was produced on April 4, 1996, with the XK8 taking its place.


The first XJ-S appeared in 1975 as a 1976 model. Power came from the V12 version with a choice of a manual or automatic transmission (but the manual was soon dropped). It could reach 60 mph (100 km/h) in 6.9 seconds and accelerate to 150 mph (240 km/h). The Group 44 racing team built a successful Trans Am race car based on the XJ-S, and the car won the series' 1977 manufacturers' championship cup.

Jaguar's timing was not good: the car was launched in the wake of the first fuel crisis and the market for a 5.3-litre V12 grand tourer was very small. The styling was also the subject of much criticism, including the "flying buttresses" behind the windows.

Jaguar did seize a promotional opportunity with the television series Return of the Saint, in which the hero, Simon Templar (played by Ian Ogilvy), drives an early XJ-S with the number plate 'ST 1'. Miniature versions were made by Corgi and proved popular. A decade and a half before, Jaguar had turned down the producers of the earlier Saint series when approached about the E-type.

Responding to criticisms that the XJ-S was not a worthy E-type successor, Pininfarina revealed a sporty show car in 1979 based on XJ-S mechanicals. The car never went into production.

The 1980s

The 1981 XJ-S received the new High-Efficiency engine for much better economy. The XJ-S HE was also now the fastest automatic-transmission car in the world at 155 mph. In 1982, the new V12 XJ-S won first and second at the Tourist Trophy race at Silverstone. A new 3.6-litre Jaguar AJ6 engine was added to the line-up, and a cabriolet version débuted, the XJ-SC, though it was only a 2-seat car. A V12 XJ-SC did not emerge until 1985. The two-seat cabriolet was replaced with a two-seat convertible in 1988.

In 1985, XJS drivers John Goss and Armin Hahne won the James Hardie Bathurst 1000 motor race in Australia.

In 1988 and 1989, a special XJR-S version of the V12 5.3 litre car was produced to celebrate Jaguar's win at Le Mans. This car had a distinctive factory-fitted body kit, special alloy wheels and minor performance modifications.

Jaguar did consider a luxury Daimler version, without the flying buttresses, but this vehicle was not put into production.

Throughout the XJ-S's life, British company Lynx sold a high-quality four-seat full convertible conversion. Lynx also produced approximately 75 hand-built two-door estate/shooting brake/station wagon versions of the XJS marketed under the 'Lynx Eventer'. The Eventer was a very elegant model, which suceeded in the overall design because it removed the 'flying butresses' incorporating them into the estate design. Jaguar were urged to market their own version but never did. Most Eventers are believed to still exist although build quality, especially on the early versions, was at best variable.


The car was reengineered in 1991 and renamed XJS, with a convertible waiting one year. The rear windows were enlarged, though the flying buttresses stayed, as designer Geoff Lawson argued that they were part of the car's character. The car got a new 4-litre version of the AJ6, and the V12 was upped to 6 litres in 1993. A 2+2 convertible was also introduced, as was a customized insignia line. The car came to an end in 1996 with the introduction of the XK8.

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