The 1978 Jaguar XJ Spider was bodied by the famous coachbuilder Pinin Farina and produced for the London Motor Show. It had taken only five months to complete. Some styling was borrowed from the E-type such as the oval-shaped front air intake and its aggressive stance with the wheel-wells buldging over the wheels. It had a convertible top and pop-up headlights. The front and rear were constructed of impact-absorbing polyurethane. The rear is rather long but this could mean there was plenty of luggage space making this vehicle the perfect grand touring automobile. Under the hood was a powerful Jaguar twelve-cylinder engine in 'vee' configuration. Future concept and production cars drew their inspiration from the XJ Spider, such as the F-Type prototype and the XK8. The XJ-Spider showed how the XJ-S may have been a worthy successor to the famous E-Type.
Due to financial reasons the XJ Spider never went into production.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2005
The Jaguar factory was founded long before the Jaguar brand became first used in 1945.
The foundation of the firm was first set in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley in Blackpool, England. The name was originally Swallow Coachbuilding, Co and got its start by constructing motorcycles and sidecars.
Eventually they moved on to building bodies based on the Austin Seven chassis. The name of the company was changed during the 1930's to SS car Ltd when their own SS were being produced.
Following World War II the name was dropped and changed to Jaguar Cars Ltd. Jaguar took over British Daimler in 1960, and from that point on Jaguar utilized the name of Daimler for its elegant and superior models. The Jaguar XJ was designed in 1968 and has continued on today, though it has evolved in many ways. It was three years later in 1971 when a V12 engine was added to the Jaguar E-Type. The only twelve-cylinder engine in the world at the time, it was later also added in the Daimler Double Six and the Jaguar XJ 12. Also available as a convertible, the XJS became available during the mid-seventies.
A luxury GT coupe from Jaguar, the Jaguar XJ-S was the replacement to the legendary Jaguar E-Type in September of 1975. Based on the XJ saloon, it was developed as the XK-F though very dissimilar from its predecessor. A competent grand tourer, it was much more aerodynamic than the e-type. It was produced until April 4, 1996.
The V12 version came with the choice of either automatic transmission of manual, though the manual was eventually dropped. Able to reach a top speed of 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, the XJ-S could accelerate to 150 mph.
Winning the series' 1977 manufacturers' championship cup, the Group 44 racing teach designed a successful Trans Am race car that was based on the XJ-S. Unfortunately, the vehicle was not launched on the market at a good time as the economy was struggling through the wake of the first fuel crisis. A vehicle never released into production was the sporty show car based on XJ-S mechanicals by Pinninfarina in 1979.
Receiving a new High-Efficiency engine, the 1981 XJ-S HE was now the fastest automatic-transmission car in the world at 155 mph. A year later the V12 XJ-S achieved the first and second at the Tourist Trophy race at Silverstone.
A cabriolet version debuted as a new 3.6-litre Jaguar AJ6 engine was added to the line-up. In 1985 a V12 XJ-SC was released. XJS driver Armin Hahne and John Hoss won the James Harie Bathurst 1000 motor race in Australia in 1985. To celebrate Jaguar's win at Le Mans, a special XJR-S version on the V12 5.3 litre car was released in 1988. The vehicle cae with a unique factory-fitted body kit, alloy wheels and minor performance modificaions.
At one point Jaguar did consider producing a luxury Daimler version, but unfortunately was never put into production.
The British company Lynx sold a high-quality four-seat full convertible conversion throughout the entire life of XJ-S.
Producing around 75 hand-built two-door estate/shooting brake/station wagon versions of the XJS, Lynx marketed these models under the 'Lynx Eventer'. This model was a success due to the removal of the ‘flying butresses' which were so unpopular with the XJ-S models. Though Jaguar was encouraged to market their own version of this vehicle, they never did. Re-engineered in 1991 with a substantial face-life, the vehicle was renamed the XJS. The new vehicles incorporated body styling updates, the adoption of the AJ6 4.0 litre engine rather than the 3.6 litre version and a totally redesigned interior.
Aiming for a smoother and more contemporary look, nearly 40% of the vehicles body panels were changed including the rear wings, sills, doors and boot. The 4.0 litre Convertible in the XJS line was introduced the following year and featured a driver's side airbag. This new facility made Jaguar the first UK company that offered this.
The car now had larger rear windows, the main detail that did not change was the flying buttresses which the designer Geoff Lawson argued were ‘part of the car's character'.
The V12 was increased to 6 litres in 1993, and the vehicle received a new 4-litre version of the AJ6. Two years later several revisions were made to the 4-litre AJ6 engine. The substantial revisions were meant to highlight the major differences between the AJ16 abd the original AJ6. Now the vehicle was fitted with new rear brakes and fitted with outboard rear disc brakes.
The introduction on XK8, production of the XJS came to an end in 1996.By Jessica Donaldson
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