The Jaguar XJ series began in 1968 and has continued in various forms and Series into modern times. The first 'Mark' was introduced in 1968 and continued until 1992. During this time there were three series, Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3. In 1986 Jaguar introduced the Mark II which continued until 2002. During this time there were the XJ40, XJ81, X300, X305 and X308. The Mark III was introduced in 2003.
Sir John William hailed the JX series as 'the finest Jaguar ever.' The 'XJ' designation had been used during the vehicles development as its codename. When the vehicle was introduced, the codename persisted. When introduced it was powered by a six-cylinder engine that came in either 2.8- or 4.2-liter displacement. In 1972 a 5.3-liter V12 unit was introduced with a total of 3,235 examples being produced its introductory year. From 1968 through 1973, Jaguar produced 82,126 examples of the XJ Series I.
The Jaguar XJ Series II, commonly known as the Series II, was introduced in 1973. It brought mild aesthetic improvements over the prior years. One of the more visual indications of a Series II from a Series I was the smaller front grille. A 3.4-liter engine became available in 1975. In total, 91,227 examples of the Series II were produced with 14,226 being outfitted with the 12-cylinder engine. 8378 examples were of the two-door XJ Coupes which were produced from 1975 through 1978.
The Series II vehicles had a reputation for pool build quality which was partly due to outsourced components. The XJC versions were plagued with loud wind noise and water leakage.
A limited number of XJC pillar-less hardtop coupes were produced from 1975 through 1978. These are commonly known as the XJC. Their chassis's were constructed on the short-wheelbase version of the XJ. They came equipped with either the six or twelve cylinder engine. Extensive amount of labor was required in order to modify the saloon body to create the XJC. The labor intensive process and high sticker price was part of the reason only 8378 examples were produced.
In 1979 Jaguar unveiled the Series 3 which remained in production until 1992. The famous design studio, Pininfarina, had been tasked with incorporating design enhancements for the long-wheelbase version. The results were stunning.
The Series III were powered by six- and 12-cylinder engines. In six-cylinder form, the owner could select either the 3.4-liter or 4.2-liter unit. The V12 unit had 5.3-liters in displacement size. The larger six-cylinder engine and the 12-cylinder unit both utilized Bosch fuel injection. The smaller six used carburetors and now offered for sale in the US.
In total, there were 132,952 examples of the Series III produced. A small percentage of those, 10,500, were equipped with the 12-cylinder engine. In 1987 Jaguar ceased production of the Series III XJ with the six-cylinder engines. The Series III with the 12-cylinder power-plant continued until 1992.
The Series III brought with it cruise control and a sunroof as optional equipment. The Vanden Plas option was introduced in 1982 and intended for the US market. This designation indicated the top-of-the-line offering for the Jaguar XJ which included the twelve-cylinder engine and many luxury items as standard equipment.
The Project XJ40 had been in development by British Leyland (Jaguar) since the 1970's. Designs by Pininfarina were submitted but ultimately, Jaguar decided to stick with its internal design studio for their newest creation. There were delays with the project which delayed its introduction. These delay's, which included the unforeseen fuel crisis, meant the Jaguar Mark II XJ40 was unveiled to European markets until 1986. Since its design had been started in the 1970's, it brought with it many controversial designs from that era. The square headlights were one of these antiquated features.
Jaguar offered the XJ40 with only six-cylinder units when first introduced. The 12-cylinder unit's were not ready, thus the continuation of the Series III with the V12 until 1992. In 1989 Ford took over Jaguar. Work began on redesigning the engine bay to accommodate the V12. It would take a few more years of development until the V12 was ready.
In 1993 a twelve-cylinder version of the Mark II was ready for sale. By now, the vehicles were known as XJ81. Production would continue until 1994 of these 6.0-liter four-door saloons. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a GM 4L80E four-speed automatic gearbox with overdrive on the fourth gear.
In 1995 the XJ6, code-named X300 Series, was introduced which used styling cues from the popular Series III cars. There were now four individual headlights, reminiscent of the Series III era. The hood was also very similar to the S3. The work of the newly designs and updated X300 Series cars was done by Geoff Lawson, the head designer for Jaguar. Included in this series was the XJ6, Vanden Plas, XJR, and Daimler. Power was from a 4-liter six-cylinder unit or from the 6-liter 12-cylinder unit. The XJR version featured a supercharger on the six-cylinder unit. This was a radical departure from Jaguar's history, as a supercharger had never been used by the Jaguar Company. Turbochargers were almost as rare in the company's long and prestigious history. The XJ220 is one of the few Jaguars, up to this point, to have been outfitted with a turbocharger.
Though the exterior of the car had received attention, the interior received very few updates.
Production of the XJ6 continued into 1997.
The XJ12 and Daimler Double Six as introduced in 1995 and produced until 1996. It was known under the codename X305. Production of the XJ12 was low with only 3400 examples produced. Though they shared many design features as the X300 Series, there was much to distinguish the two series. V12 badges were placed on each side of the vehicles pillar.
The X308 was introduced in 1997 and continued until 2002. Included in this series was the XJ7, JXR, Daimler, and Vanden Plas. The X308 Series brought about an all-new dashboard. The most significant improvement was the use of eight-cylinder engines. They were offered in 3.2-liter, and 4.0-liter displacement sizes. The XJR included a five-speed automatic transmission and a supercharger on the 4.0-liter unit which greatly improvement the vehicles performance. The base 4.0-liter produced 290 horsepower while the supercharger version increased output to 370.
In 2002, Jaguar introduced the XJR 100 which was a limited 500 special edition versions of the XJR. They were all painted in black with matching black leather interior. Alloy sport wheels, red stitching in the interior, and maple trim were used exclusively on the XJR 100.
The Mark III was introduced in 2002 and brought about an all-new aluminum lightweight body. These were codenamed the X350. Included in this series was the XJ6, XJ8, XJR, Vanden Plas, Super V8, and Daimler Super Eight. Visually, the vehicle had changed little. The biggest improvements were under the hood and throughout the other mechanical components. The chassis and body were constructed mostly from aluminum with small amounts of steel.
The Super V8 made its debut in 2004. This was a long-wheelbase version of the XJ and is considered the most luxurious and powerful of the series. As such, it is also the most expensive. Under the hood was a 4.2-liter supercharger V8 that produced 400 horsepower. A limited edition, called the Super V8 Portfolio, was introduced at the 2005 New York Auto Show as a 2006 model. It carried a base price of $115,999. Improvements were more power and luxury enhancements. There were only limited colors offered, either Black Cherry or Winter Gold. Zero-to-sixty took just five seconds.
The Mark III, aka X350, was powered by a 4.2-liter V8 that came in natural aspiration or supercharger. The base engine produced 300 horsepower while the supercharger version raised that figure to 400.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006