The historic Jaguar XJ series is a line of full-size luxury automobiles that has been manufactured by Jaguar Ltd in Coventry England since 1968. The marque represents Jaguar’s flagship line of automobiles and is said to have had the personal design input of Sir William Lyons, the company’s legendary founder.
The original XJ Series 1 sedans were powered by Jaguar’s famous straight-six, 4.2 litre engine and they had a styling presence that was striking. In its October 1968 issue, Motor magazine gave its first impressions of the first Jaguar XJ6s, “Such is the standing of Jaguar, both as a status symbol and an example of automotive engineering, that the advent of a new model is almost a social event as well as a matter of great interest to keen motorists the world over.” One of the reasons for this as related to us by John at Reedman-Toll Jaguar in Langhorne, PA was that while many automobiles of the 1960s were switching to more austere interiors, Jaguar continued their signature Connelly leather seating, posh mohair ceiling fabrics and genuine burlwood interiors.
In July 1972, the Jaguar XJ12 version, powered by Jaguar’s new 5.3 L V-12 engine, was announced. At the time the XJ12 was the world’s only mass-produced 12-cylinder four-door car, and, with a top speed “around 140 mph” (225 km/h) was billed as the “fastest full four-seater available in the world today”
In the Autumn of 1973, the XJ line was face-lifted and given the “Series II” designation. The 4.2 6-cylinder engine as well as the 5.3L V-12 engine remained and reviews were very strong; “Step on the throttle, and it is all big cat, with the seat back giving you a most powerful shove and the speedometer needle sweeping happily round the dial until it passes the 140mph mark,” Motor magazine wrote in its September 1973 issue. The third redesign for the original Series 1 XJ models focused on the exterior which was subtly tweaked and made even sleeker.
After three iterations of the original XJ, 1986 marked the introduction of the first, truly all-new XJ in 20 years. This new XJ had undergone an extensive six-year overhaul process. “The all-new XJ6, with its smooth six-cylinder engine and a brilliant handling/ride … [is] arguably the most comfortable car in the world,” Autocar wrote in its October 1986 issue. In 2002, Jaguar unveiled the latest new XJ, which further developed the classic XJ styling for a new generation, but added the benefit of an aluminum chassis and body structure.
In July 2009, a newly styled XJ was unveiled in London, with Jay Leno and Elle Macpherson unveiling the new car. It was an all-new exterior design, a break from the previous XJ styling, and is a longer, wider car that looks much bigger than its predecessor. The front pays homeage to the earlier XJs although with much slimmer, sleeker lights and a larger, squarer grille. The rear is the most differentiated part, like nothing Jaguar has shown before. The upright, swooping taillights, (nicknamed ‘cat’s claws’) and black roof panels are the most striking aspects. I’ts considered a very nice looking automobile by virtually everyone who sees it.