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(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) The Jaguar XJ-S (later the Jaguar XJS) was a luxury grand tourer produced by the British manufacturer Jaguar from 1975 to 1996. The XJ-S replaced the E-Type (or XK-E) in September 1975, 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. The last XJS was produced on 4 April 1996, by then 115,413 had been produced during a 21-year production life. The model was replaced by the XK8.
The first XJ-S appeared in 1975 as a 1976 model. Power came from the Jaguar V-12 petrol engine with a choice of a manual or automatic transmission, but the manual was soon dropped. V-12 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). The first series of XJ-S cars had a Borg-Warner Model 12 transmission with a cast-iron case and a bolt-on bell-housing. In 1977 GM Turbo-Hydromatic 400 transmissions were fitted. The TH400 transmission was an all aluminium alloy case with an integrated non-detachable bell-housing.
Jaguar's timing was not good; 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 Montecarlo 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 frontmost 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. The New Avengers featured Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt) who drove an XJ-S. Return of the Saint saw Simon Templar (played by Ian Ogilvy) driving an early XJ-S with the number plate "ST 1". Miniature versions were made by Corgi and proved popular. A decade and a half before, Jaguar had turned down the producers of the earlier Saint series when approached about the E-type; the producers had instead used a Volvo P1800.
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.
Early examples can be identified by details such as a black panel between the rear lights, and brushed aluminium trim instead of the later cars' wood.
From 1986 a full convertible version was available through some dealers, modified by Hess & Eisenhardt in the USA. The Hess & Eisenhardt coachbuilding firm was located in Ohio, USA, and built about 893 of these cars under contract from Jaguar before the official Jaguar-built XJS full convertible appeared in 1988.
The Hess & Eisenhardt convertible differed from the later Jaguar convertible XJS as its unpadded top folded down deeper into the body structure of the car resulting in a cleaner rear profile when the roof was lowered. In order to accommodate this design element, the Hess & Eisenhardt convertibles have two separate fuel tanks, positioned to allow for the roof to fully retract. The process of converting the stock Jaguar XJS coupé into the H&E Convertible included the post-production removal of the roof, cutting the body in several sections, the addition of steel reinforcements behind the driver's seat, and 20 lb (9.1 kg) weights placed just behind the headlights to eliminate harmonic resonance caused by the significant modifications to the car. H&E XJS convertibles are easily identified by the lower folding top, as well as two small badges located just behind the front wheels. The later Jaguar full convertible had a heavier padded top that did not fold into as small a bundle when in the lowered position, but retained nearly all of the original components of the coupé.
The true number of H&E Jaguar XJSes is unknown, partly because a fire at the Hess & Eisenhardt factory destroyed most of the records pertaining to the Jaguar XJS conversions.
The car was discontinued in 1996, after 21 years in production. It was replaced by the XK8.
Bodywork. Length/width/height – cm (in) : 477/179/126 (187.6/70.5/49.6); wheelbase : 259 cm; weight : 1930 kg (4260 lbs).
Mechanics. front-mounted V12 engine 5343 cc (326 cid), 24 valves, injection, 3-speed, automatic, rear-wheel drive; power : 296 bhp @ 5500 t/m. Top speed : 245 km/h (152 mph); 0 – 60 mph in 6.5 sec.