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class l xj-sFrom an original planning concept of the replacement for the E-Type, stricter laws for open cars in the USA and elsewhere made Jaguar opt for a prestige Grand Tourer with high speed and comfort rather than an out and out sports car. Using a modified short wheelbase XJ12 and the tried and true V12 5.3 litre engine (285bhp), the XJ-S was launched in 1975 as a fixed head coupe and remained unchanged until 1981. Top speed was a claimed 150mph. The body, designed by Malcolm Sayer, was controversial.

In 1981 the XJ-S HE was introduced. The V12 HE engine had new high-efficiency cylinder heads designed to improve the car’s less than special fuel economy. A few other relatively minor changes were made at the time.

In 1983 the all aluminium 225bhp, 3.6 litre 6 cylinder AJ6 engine (destined for the XJ40) was available in the XJ-S 3.6. Top speed was 141mph. This version was in production until 1991 but very few came to Australia. It used a lot less fuel than the V12. Also introduced that year was the XJ-S 3.6 cabriolet with a strengthened body. The Getrag manual gearbox was an option.  

The cabriolet was available with the V12 engine in 1985. In 1988 the XJ-S was available as a full convertible with either the 6 or 12 cylinder engine with further strengthening of the shell and with many body panels changed. Weight increased by 100kg over the cabriolet version.

The final version of the XJ-S in 1994 had the 4 litre AJ16 engine (223bhp) developed from the AJ6 for the X300 saloon. Maybe none came to Australia. It was available until 1996 as was the V12 version.

The Tom Walkinshaw Racing Team in 1982 was given the task, by Jaguar, of developing the XJ-S V12 for the European Touring Car Championship of 1982. Success in Europe, the USA and here at Bathurst certainly did no harm to Jaguar’s reputation. Mike Roddy has one of the Bathurst winning cars.

The XJ-S had what was one of the world’s smoothest V12 engines, a spectacular appearance, a rich interior and a very smooth and compliant ride. This extended to the 6 cylinder cars which were cheaper and more fuel efficient. The production run went from 1975 to 1996, the longest for any Jaguar model.