When the Jaguar XJ-S was unveiled in 1975 it was met with a lukewarm reception. Billed as the
replacement for the iconic but ancient E-type, fans expected another sleek sports car and got a
rather bulky grand tourer instead.
Despite this, the XJ-S proved to be a brilliant GT and started to win over even the most vocal
detractors by being nothing short of wonderful.
What makes the XJ-S special?
Let’s start with the looks: okay, it’s no E-type, but we think that the XJ-S has a certain 70s charm. Its
massive bonnet, oblong headlights and swooping rear end make the car look much bigger than it
actually is, but that just adds to the sense that this is a serious GT. A GT with a beast of an engine
under the hood!
Talking of the engine, we’d take the 4.0-litre straight six over the earlier V12s for the better
performance and incredible engine note. It manages to be refined at lower revs, just as a GT should,
but once you open her up she roars like a big cat. Yes, this Jaguar has teeth!
Step inside the cockpit and you’re treated to the kind of luxury owners of these cars expected –
there’s wall to wall leather and enough wood to build Noah’s ark! The Jaguar XJ-S is simply a
gorgeous place to be.
But how does it drive?
This is where the XJ-S surprises a few people! It’s no supercar, but the Jag will hit 60mph in under
seven seconds and responds pretty well on a windy B-road… all this while being effortless to drive
around town. It’s easy to see why the XJ-S has such a reputation as the perfect GT.
Buying an XJ-S today
As with all modern classics, there’s a range to choose from. The biggest issue to check for when
buying is rust. It’s the Jaguar’s nemesis and could easily be terminal. Check everywhere: boot floor,
floorpan, cills, arches… literally everywhere.
The same level of care needs to be applied to the engine and suspension. You want to see a huge
wad of paperwork to prove that the car you’re looking at has been serviced very regularly. Even then
you have to accept that owning an XJ-S means that you’ve bought a temperamental old cat. It’s
definitely going to break down on you at some point!
Despite the obvious flaws, we recommend the Jag for the qualities that make it shine, so don’t be
afraid to invest in a slice of British automotive history. Oh, and if you do pick up a good example of
the Jaguar XJ-S, be sure to bring it down to Trafalgar Street Car Park so we can admire it!