Jaguar's ugly duckling marks 40 years
THE FUR FLEW WHEN JAGUAR LAUNCHED ITS XJS. FOUR DECADES ON, FANS CELEBRATE THE CAR, WRITES TONY VERDON
Jaguar’s XJS V12 was given a less than enthusiastic response when it first appeared, 40 years ago this month.
The two-door sports car succeeded the E-Type Jaguar, but lacked the sleek lines and beauty of its iconic predecessor.
Four decades later the XJS retains its fans, and many will gather to celebrate at an Auckland Jaguar Drivers Club meeting at Smales Farm, Takapuna, from noon on Sunday September 20.
The XJS was launched in September 1975 after a somewhat troubled development.
Work on the model was led by designer Malcolm Sayer in the 1960s. But after his death in 1970 the design had to be completed by an in-house team.
The owner of three V12s, club member Barry Eade admits the model disappointed Jaguar fans when released.
“The XJS V12 in the 70s had stiff competition from the much higher priced Mercedes and Ferrari,” he said.
“But the XJS did offer unlimited potential as a fast, affordable UK GT which proved to be a winner in the 80s when [British racing driver and TWR racing team founder] Tom Walkinshaw joined the team.”
Around 115,000 models were produced between 1975 and 1996, including both six and 12-cylinder engines.
At one point several British police forces used the XJS as chase cars.
“In my opinion the Jaguar V12 was the greatest engineered engine that Jaguar has produced,” he said.
“I have owned three V12s and favour the 80s models which were more economical and featured a bit more wood than the earlier models.”
Eade says a good XJS is a magnificent GT car, with instant power-plus, stylish design, great road handling and a smooth, comfortable ride.
There are around 52 models listed on the Auckland Jaguar Drivers Club register, with a range of coupes, cabriolets and convertibles.