Good Oil: Jaguar XJ chalks up 50 years, and then retires
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The rumours have turned out to be true. The venerable Jaguar XJ — the big Jaaaag that defined all big Jaaaags — is no more, with an announcement this week from Jaguar
Land Rover that the final example will roll off the production line next month.
It’s not the end for the historic king of the golf club car park, though. In fact, JLR plans to take its most traditional of models and reshape it as an all-electric flagship.
Retiring design chief Ian Callum has clearly been putting in some long hours on the project as — in manufacturing terms — there will hardly be a blip between the old being superseded by the new: Jaguar plans to show off the all-new electric XJ as soon as next year.
For a trad three-box sedan, the XJ has always pushed boundaries. Okay well, maybe not so much in the 1980s and 1990s, where it trod the same basic path for a couple of decades, becoming ever-more irrelevant to the then-busy executive sedan market with every passing new vehicle launch from its German rivals.
But think about its launch back in 1968. It effectively superseded not just one model, but a host of models. In one shiny swoop, the crowd in Coventry erased several previous favourites of captains of industry, including the Jaguar Mark II, S-Type and gargantuan 420 and 420G luxo-barges. Add each of these 1960s stalwart nameplate’s Daimler-badged companions to the pile of now-defunct metal, and the arrival of the XJ really did see a mass cull.
Moving swiftly through the aforementioned decades when the sedan treaded water for a time, the rebirth of Jaguar under its new Tata ownership saw a similarly drastic — and contentious — overhaul of the XJ.
Despite utilising some 1990s star power (Elle Macpherson and Jay Leno) to unveil the all-new 2009 Jaguar XJ, the redesign was dramatic and much of the new era of the storied marque.
The car — codenamed X351 — was completely new, with a bigger and squarer exterior (including a rear-end that only Chris Bangle’s “Bangle Butt” BMWs could rival in terms of controversial design language), swooping “Cat’s Claw” taillights and, inside, what was known as a “Riva Hoop” dashboard that arched around the driver and front passenger like the bridge on the feature’s titular motor boat.
It was dramatic and, especially in XJR575 V8-guise, familiar in a “thug in a suit” sort of way.
Last year the XJ celebrated 50 years of being. Now it is no more. Well, that’s not quite true: but regardless of trendy powertrain, the next-generation car featuring that iconic model name certainly has a lot to live up to.