The Jaguar XJ-S (later the Jaguar XJS) was a luxury grand tourer, produced from 1975 to 1996. The XJ-S replaced the E-Type (or XK-E), and was based on the XJ saloon. It had been developed as the XK-F, though it was very different in character from its predecessor. Although it never had quite the same sporting image, the XJ-S was a competent grand tourer, and more aerodynamic than the E-Type. During its 21-year production life 115,413 copies were produced. The model was replaced by the XK8.
Power of the first XJ-S came from the Jaguar V12 petrol engine with a choice of a manual or automatic transmission, the manual was soon dropped. V12 automobiles were unusual at the time, with notable others coming from Italian luxury sports car makers Lamborghini and Ferrari. The specifications of the XJ-S compared well with both Italian cars; it was able to accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.6 seconds (automatic) and had a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h).
Jaguar's timing was not great; the car was launched in the wake of a fuel crisis, and the market for a 5.3-litre V12 grand tourer was very small. The styling was also the subject of criticism, including the buttresses behind the windows. German authorities feared these would restrict rearward vision, and refused to give the model (along with Lancia's similarly adorned Monte Carlo model) type approval: it was for a time necessary instead for German XJS buyers to obtain type approval for each individual car when registering it. Such fears were ill founded, since in reality the rear visibility was very reasonable, with only the front most top edges of the buttresses being visible, when looking rearward. Jaguar did seize promotional opportunities with the television series "The New Avengers" and "Return of the Saint". Responding to criticisms that the XJ-S was not a worthy E-type successor, Pininfarina revealed a sporty show car in 1978 based on XJ-S mechanicals and called Jaguar XJSpider. The car never went into production.
From July 1981, XJ-S received the new High-Efficiency engine for much better economy; as a by-product, power was increased to 220 kW (295 hp) or 196 kW (263 hp) in North America. At the same time, the XJ-S received changes to its exterior and interior (new five-spoke alloy wheels, chrome inserts on the upper part of the bumpers, wood inserts on dashboard and door cappings).
In 1983, a new 3.6-litre engine débuted - the Jaguar AJ6 straight-six (I6) engine - as well as a new cabriolet version, the XJ-SC. The two-seat XJ-SC targa-type model, never a great success, was replaced with a two-seat full convertible in 1988 which proved to be a great hit.
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