The XJ-S was launched in September 1975. While it was not quite the sports car that many Jaguar enthusiasts had hoped would replace the E-type, the XJ-S represented a step forward for Jaguar as the company's first model in the international Grand Touring class, competing with the finest cars on offer from German and Italian manufacturers, yet at £8,900 offering traditional Jaguar value for money.
The new model was built on a shortened floorpan from the XJ saloon range, and the suspension and other chassis parts were also similar. It therefore had the same unique combination of refinement, comfort and handling as other Jaguars, developed by chief engineer Bob Knight. The engine was the by now well-proven 5.3 litre V12, which developed 285bhp and gave the car a top speed of 142mph (229 km/h). A small number of cars were built with manual gearbox, but most XJ-S V12 cars were automatic.
Although the styling was controversial, the XJ-S was the last car to show the influence of Sir William Lyons and Malcolm Sayer, the aerodynamicist who had shaped the C-, D- and E-types. The flying buttresses at the rear had been intended for a still-born project for a mid-engined road car, based on the XJ13 of the 1960s. Because of the concern felt about new safety requirements in the USA, the XJ-S was designed only as a closed car, although open cabriolet and convertible models were to follow later. The oval halogen headlamps were specially developed by Cibié.
The car shown is a very early XJ-S, the 154th right-hand drive car built. It was finished in a special metallic gold paint for the 1975 London Motor Show at Earls Court. After use as a show car, it was kept as part of the Leyland Historic Vehicle collection, before being transferred to the JDHT. It has only ever covered a few thousand miles.
Registration mark: OOM 555 R
Chassis number: 2W/1154-BW
Owner: The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust
Inventory number: 076/J.33