The Jaguar XJ-S has a bad reputation. Did it really deserve this? To answer that we need to look into it's history.
The E-Type Jaguar was one of the most beautiful and successful sports ever produced. However even an iconic car like this can go out of date eventually and by the early 1970s sales were dwindling away, partly because standards had risen and partly because the demands of American legislation were making it heavier and less powerful. It was time for a new model.
Hopes were high for it's successor; after all for more than four decades Jaguar had been right at the top of the tree for styling and innovation. However when the XJS was finally launched in 1975 at the Frankfurt Motor Show reviews were decidedly mixed. The design of the buttresses behind the windows, which affected rearward vision, and long body overhangs in particular came in for a lot of criticism. Admittedly these were aerodynamically efficient but to many critics they simply didn't look right! And as for the plastic bumpers ....
Unfortunately however there would soon be far worse to criticise about this car!
On paper this was a first class grand tourer. It featured an excellent, smooth 5.3 litre V12 engine which enabled it to top 143 mph with a nought to 60 mph time of just 7.6 seconds. The interior was luxurious. However, it was launched towards the end of a fuel crisis when large engined cars that gobbled fuel were way out of fashion. And worst of all it was being built by British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd.
Problematic labour relations were endemic at BLMC. Strikes were frequent and quality control was poor. Failure to keep to delivery dates lead to cancelled orders and in 1979 serious consideration was made for dropping the model completely.
In 1981 engine improvements, including the introduction of a 3.6 litre six cylinder engine and a new Cabriolet model lifted sales, and a full convertible was introduced in 1988. By then though the dead hand of British Leyland had been lifted from Jaguar, which was spun off from the company in 1984. Quality standards rose; hardly surprisingly. They rose further when Ford took over the company in 1990.
By now sales were booming, quality was high and the XJS (which by now had a rename, with the dropping of the hyphen) was able to continue in production until April 1996.