The Jaguar XJ-S (later called XJS) is a luxury grand tourer manufactured and marketed by British automobile manufacturer Jaguar from 1975 to 1996, in coupé, fixed-profile and full convertible body styles. There were three distinct iterations, with a final production total of 115,413 units over 20 years and seven months.
Originally developed using the platform of the then current XJ saloon, the XJ-S was noted for its prominent rear flying buttresses. The styling was by Jaguar's pioneering aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer — one of the first designers to apply advanced aero principles to cars. Sayer died just before the XJ-S body styling was frozen for production.
In its final iteration produced from 1991 to 1996, was manufactured under Jaguar's new owner Ford, who introduced numerous modifications — and eliminated the hyphen in the name, marketing Jaguar's longest running model simply as the XJS.
The XJ-S was introduced on 10 September 1975. The development, directed by William Heynes had begun in the late 1960s by the code name of project XJ27, with an initial shape penned by Malcolm Sayer, but after his death in 1970 it was completed by the in-house Jaguar design team, headed by Doug Thorpe. Power came from the Jaguar V12 engine with a choice of a manual or an automatic transmission, but the manual was soon dropped as they were left over from V12 E Type production. V12 powered production automobiles were unusual at the time; Italian luxury sports car makers Lamborghini and Ferrari produced such models. The specifications of the XJ-S compared well with both Italian cars; it was able to accelerate to 97 km/h (60 mph) in 7.6 seconds (automatic models) and had a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph). The first series of XJ-S cars had a BorgWarner Model 12 transmission with a cast-iron case and a bolt-on bell-housing. In 1977, General Motor's Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmissions were fitted. The TH400 transmission was an all-aluminium alloy case with an integrated non-detachable bell-housing. The XJ-S was originally supplied with Dunlop SP Super E205/70VR15 tyres on 6K alloy wheels; British police upgraded their Jaguars to a higher-performance 205/70VR15 Michelin XWX tyres.
Jaguar launched the XJ-S in the wake of a fuel crisis, when the market for a 5.3-litre V12 grand tourer was small. The buttresses behind the windows were criticised at the time as German authorities feared these would restrict rearward vision, and refused to give the XJ-S, and the similarly designed Lancia Montecarlo, type approval — necessitating German XJ-S buyers to obtain road approval for each individual car on registration.
Italian styling house Pininfarina introduced a 1978 concept car based on the XJ-S, called the Jaguar XJSpider; which did not see production.
In 1983, the new 3.6-litre Jaguar AJ6 straight-six engine was introduced along with a new convertible model called the XJ-SC. The coupé's rather small rear seats were removed in order to make space for the removable soft top, making it a 2-seat car. The XJ-SC was not a full convertible but was a fixed profile variant with a non-removable centre targa-type structure and fixed cant rails above the doors and fixed rear quarter windows. The six-cylinder cars can be identified by a raised bonnet center section.
Between 1983 and 1987, the six-cylinder-engined cars were only available with a five-speed manual transmission (Getrag 265), with a four-speed automatic (ZF 4HP22) offered from 1987 onwards (along with improved fuel injection as used on the XJ40). The earlier, manual models were not imported by Jaguar into the United States, which had to wait until the facelift manual 4-litre XJS coupé and convertible became available. A V12 powered XJ-SC was introduced in 1
The two-seat XJ-SC targa-type model, never a great success in the marketplace, was replaced by a two-seat full convertible in 1988 which proved to be a great hit.