Reconvening the Committee

We examine the defamation of the XJ-S.

Image: jaguar heritage via Hagerty

This article was originally published on Driven to Write in serialised form in the Spring of 2014.

In September 1975 the newly nationalised British Leyland conglomerate celebrated the Jaguar XJ-S’ launch at Longbridge, the traditional home of its volume car division. The chosen venue appeared to be a calculated statement of dominance, British Leyland’s leadership making it clear to Jaguar’s management and workforce exactly who was in charge.

1975 was a tumultuous year in the UK. Petrol rationing was in force, and a 50-mph speed limit blanketed the roads. A three-day week had been enacted to save energy and the very social fabric of British life appeared to be unravelling. There was an ugly whiff of cordite in the air, with worsening labour disputes, battle lines drawn on football terraces, and the all too familiar horror of the IRA bombing campaign on British soil.

While rock band, Queen topped the UK singles charts with the grandiose sounding Bohemian Rhapsody, behind the scenes, punk pioneers, The Sex Pistols played their first public concert, heralding a more seismic redrafting of artistic boundaries. Less than 30 years from the end of the second World War, Britain, socially, economically and culturally was on its knees.

The domestic motor industry was similarly imperilled. 1975 had already seen the liquidation and closure of Jensen Motors and the collapse of Aston Martin. Following BLMC’s financial implosion the previous Autumn, Sir Don Ryder’s report into its reconstitution proposed the removal of marque identities throughout the entire portfolio. Amidst these upheavals, the delayed launch of what would become Jaguar’s most controversial car to date seemed almost appropriate.

The XJ-S’ appearance polarised opinion to an unprecedented degree, initial incredulity giving way to open disdain in many quarters as the car was written off as the conception of a carmaker in decline. With a back catalogue of all-time classics, Jaguar had committed the unpardonable sin of producing a car that failed to match the timeless appeal of its predecessor.

Almost immediately, the designed-by-committee term became the accepted throwaway dismissal, soon becoming a well-worn justification for the car’s failings. Because the XJ-S’ appearance was controversial, and the pejorative both easily digestible and credible, it rapidly became widely accepted.

Committees by their very nature suggest an element of group thinking and tepid decision-making that is the very antithesis of creativity or panache. So to label any creative endeavour in this manner is amongst the most damning dismissals. Criticism for the XJ-S’ styling came not only from the motoring press, but also from hitherto more sympathetic sources. Noted Jaguar historian Philip Porter made it plain in a latterday assessment, stating that designer, Malcolm Sayer’s “original ideas were ruined by committees, by BL and by regulations.”

Yet despite its troubled beginnings, the XJ-S went on to become one of the great automotive survivors, remaining in production for 21 years – its appeal perhaps even broader towards the latter part of its lifespan. Additionally, it represents the final creative legacy of Malcolm Sayer, Jaguar’s gifted aerodynamicist, whose work on the car was tragically cut short in 1970.

But is the design by committee label justified? To answer these questions, we must first examine the factors that helped shape the most controversial sporting Jaguar ever.

Sir William Lyons not only founded Jaguar Cars but personally supervised all matters of styling. His approach involved working (alongside skilled technicians) from full-sized wooden and metal styling bucks which once reviewed in natural light he would have modified until he arrived at a conclusion he was satisfied with.

Never particularly radical in style, his designs however tended to be forward looking. He favoured striking, powerful, largely unadorned forms, using subtle detail to add richness and although he absorbed contemporary trends, the car designs he oversaw rarely followed fashion. Once Lyons approved a style, he wouldn’t stand to have it questioned; on occasion he was known to over-rule his engineers if he became wedded to a particular shape.

Despite the occasional lapse however, his track record of styling landmarks is unparalleled. Yet when later asked by a colleague to explain his approach to styling, he seemed unable to articulate it, merely saying somewhat enigmatically, “All I try to do is to make nice cars…”

The sole exception to Sir William’s pre-eminence in this matter was aerodynamicist, Malcolm Sayer. Originally recruited to assist with Jaguar’s racing programme during the 1950s, his approach to design was utterly unique, evolving a system which employed detailed sets of mathematical co-ordinates, producing complex curves that could then be accurately translated into wood or metal by Jaguar technicians.

By the latter end of the 1960s, Sayer was heading an advanced skunkworks within the Browns Lane engineering department, and it was he who proposed the direction Jaguar should adopt for their new GT during the autumn of 1968.

Interestingly, there were several notable parallels between both men. Both were quiet-spoken, inscrutable characters, both were musicians (Sayer also painted watercolours), both shunned the limelight, yet despite their personal reserve, both were responsible for some of the most emotive shapes in the automotive pantheon.

The downside was that neither Lyons nor Sayer could articulate their methodology, nor pass their knowledge to others. With Sir William taking a back seat as he edged towards retirement, he recognised the necessity of maintaining the ‘Jaguar line’, establishing a small styling studio at the former Daimler facility in Radford. Clearly Lyons believed that in Sayer, he would have a man capable of leading this neophyte styling team, maintaining the link to the principles he established.

But Sayer’s fatal heart attack in April 1970 threw all succession plans into chaos. Following Sir William’s retirement in 1972, Jaguar’s small team of stylists reported to Engineering Director, Bob Knight, a man who by his own admission knew little about styling but was nevertheless determined to preserve Jaguar’s visual identity.

Meanwhile at the close of 1968, the XJ27 programme had been initiated, a 2+2 coupé intended to succeed (if not directly replace) the now rapidly ageing E-Type. XJ27 was schemed as a personal luxury coupé, which by the latter 1960s, US customers were buying in large numbers. The wider landscape too was shifting. Consolidation saw prestige marques becoming subsumed into larger businesses. Additionally, mass-market carmakers too were starting to produce more sophisticated products, encroaching into previously inviolate sectors. This applied as much to Jaguar as anyone else in the specialist car field, so a step upmarket was hardly against the Zeitgeist.

In North America, matters were complicated further by a two-pronged safety and emissions crusade which sent both domestic industry and the importers into a tailspin. Ever-stricter emissions regulations blunted power outputs, sapped economy, and adversely affected model lead-times. By 1969, over 60% of Jaguar’s engineering staff were employed solely on regulatory matters for the North American market.

Precipitated by a well-publicised campaign, the safety lobby gained ground throughout the US, with legislative sights being focused upon open-topped cars. Legislation was proposed in the state of Ohio to ban the sale of convertibles entirely. Was this to become federal law, manufacturers would have no option but to stop selling convertibles entirely in the US, and with demand for such models stemming mostly from the land of the free, the future for such models became gripped by uncertainty.

The situation was alluded to briefly in XJ-S – The Complete Story, a 1997 imprint by UK auto historian, Graham Robson. Quoting the former President of BLMC’s (and therefore Jaguar) US importer, Graham Whitehead, he observes, “there were certain federal laws being promulgated – there was a particular one in Ohio I believe – about convertibles”. Amid this backdrop, Jaguar’s engineers faced a tricky choice – develop XJ27 in open form and risk it falling under the proposed ban, or proceed solely with a fixed-head version? With a decision in abeyance, Jaguar’s engineers couldn’t afford to wait it out, leading to the open version being abandoned.

It wouldn’t be until 1973 that in a test-case the US judiciary decreed personal freedom outweighed personal safety and the proposal was dropped. Jaguar’s American PR head, Mike Cook elaborated further, telling Graham Robson, “That proposal got dumped in the federal court in Cincinnati in 1973… the judgement being it was not the business of the US government to tell people what models of car they could buy.” By then however, XJ27 was frozen for production, and it would be a further decade before Jaguar were in a position to produce an open version.

Jaguar had become a somewhat unwilling part of the sprawling BLMC conglomerate in 1968, and much like political rivals thrust into an uneasy coalition, Sir William and BLMC Chairman, Lord Stokes developed what can best be described as an icy cordiality. Sir William was determined to carry on running Jaguar as he saw fit while Stokes’ ambition was for full integration. However, while Jaguar’s founder remained at the helm, the BLMC board’s direct interference in product planning and engineering development remained almost non-existent[1].

Stokes was reportedly keen for Jaguars to be more corporate in appearance, so it is likely he would have approved of XJ27’s break with stylistic tradition. However, one discernible impact of BLMC policy upon the new model was its proposed market position; BLMC bosses believing XJ27 should move further upmarket, with a price almost twice that of its predecessor.

Early in 1969, work on XJ27 began in earnest. Owing to BLMC’s straitened finances, a factor of the huge investments they were making in the volume car division, Jaguar utilised a heavily modified version of the existing XJ saloon substructure and component hardware set. Structurally and mechanically then, there would be few surprises. Stylistically however, Sayer had something far more radical in mind.

Sir William worked primarily in a consultative capacity with Sayer on XJ27’s shape, saying in 1975, “I took my influence as far as I could without interfering with his basic aerodynamic requirements and he and I worked on the first styling models together.”

Proposals show an evolution of traditional Jaguar themes but with the soft curves of previous models substituted by flatter, more defined surfacing. But establishing a definitive style hit early setbacks. Proposed US safety legislation governing headlamp position allegedly led to a rethink. Car Magazine’s Mel Nichols stated as much in October 1975, pointing out, “Pop-ups [headlamps] were dropped, not because of regulations, but because of draft regulations. Furthermore, the switch to fixed lamps set Jaguar back by about six months.”

Image: AROnline

The resultant reshaping lent XJ27 a distinctive visual identity, but the most striking innovation would lie further aft. With aerodynamic stability at the heart of the car’s visual envelope, Sayer adopted a novel solution to the problem of managing the airflow over the rear three quarters of the vehicle. The twin fin-shaped sail panels performed a similar function to the vestigial tail fins on the racing D-Type[2].

Carefully shaped from Sayer’s mathematical calculations, they controlled the airflow at a crucial area towards the rear quarters of the car, where the airflow is most turbulent. Sayer evolved their shape from a good deal of number crunching. A notable element to their performance was the twist they exhibited as they flowed rearwards to the rear deck. This reduced the drag-inducing wave vortices that spill from the rear of the vehicle as it travels at speed.

But not only would they contribute to the car’s stability, they also would serve to define the new coupé’s visual character. XJ27 then, would be a total departure and perhaps the most radical design ever produced under Sir William’s tenure. Thanks to Sayer’s efforts, it would also be the most aerodynamic (Cd: 0.38), eclipsing that of the E-type by a significant margin.

By the spring of 1970, the shape was close to being finalised with only detail design to be realised. However, the tragic death of the car’s creative leader saw progress falter. In Sayer’s absence, direct styling responsibility fell to studio manager, Doug Thorpe. Thorpe’s task was to maintain Sayer’s essential aerodynamic principles, even if he didn’t necessarily agree with them, telling historian Paul Skilleter in a 1983 issue of Motor magazine, “I didn’t favour some of the approaches to it, but by the time we could make any significant contribution, it had gelled.”

It is documented that more comprehensive changes were investigated, but they didn’t get far as Thorpe explained[3]. “The car didn’t lend itself to face lifting exercises, it was an entity in itself.” Thorpe’s ambivalence was particularly concentrated towards the rear three quarters of the car. I didn’t altogether like the buttress effect, and the twist that it had,” Thorpe explaining that when he had approached Sayer on the matter, he was informed that it was an intentional effect to aid aerodynamic spillage.

Aerodynamically speaking, spillage occurs when air passes from the high-pressure side of a surface to a low-pressure side. Typically, this occurs along the hinge line of an aircraft’s control surfaces. Having previously worked at Bristol’s aero-engine division, Sayer would have understood this principle, suggesting he was still thinking in aviation terms when he formulated XJ27’s shape.

XJ27 nears its definitive form circa 1972, when the styling was frozen for production. (Note the bumper treatment) Image: AROnline

Changes were concentrated upon toning down some of Sayers’ more uncompromising visuals while incorporating alterations for production and build purposes. These entailed a shallower grille, one-piece ovoid headlamp units, and a remodelled tail featuring a central bridge-panel added to the boot lid to provide provision for a number plate lamp and lock. More prominent tail-lamps were also added. Another significant alteration was the matt-black framing of the side daylight openings and a more pronounced rear quarter vent to disguise the massive C-pillars.

With Sir William preparing for retirement, it seems inconceivable that someone who had taken such an all-encompassing interest in Jaguar style for so many years would now leave the fashioning of a vital new model solely to a team of untested stylists, yet Bob Knight, speaking with Classic Cars Magazine suggested otherwise, noting, “I took a hand in it and I tried to get Lyons interested but he was already thinking about leaving. In the end we just did our best.”

In 1972, with changes initiated under Thorpe’s supervison, XJ27 was officially approved and its styling frozen for production. But owing to backlogs at Pressed Steel Fisher, body tooling was delayed as the parent company prioritised commercially vital models like the Marina, Maxi and Allegro. BLMC’s financial collapse in the winter of 1974 further delayed matters, so approximately two years late, XJ-S was launched – into a notably hostile environment.


The XJ-S in launch specification
A press photo from XJ-S’ launch. Image: via Ebay

The world fell in love with the E-Type, but what many fail to realise is that by the early ’70s, Jaguar’s sports car icon was virtually unmarketable, the curves everyone loved in 1961 by then hopelessly out of fashion. Yet when Jaguar announced the XJ-S as a lineal successor, traditionalists had apoplexy. But was it really all that much of a departure?

Image (c) Jaguar Heritage

While the XJ-S’ detractors might swear blind to the contrary, the car’s profile is characterised by a closer resemblance to its predecessor than one might first discern. It does require the removal of some critical prejudice to appreciate, but from the elongated bonnet, pronounced frontal overhang, through the absurdly short wheelbase, to the tapered rear, XJ-S was essentially Malcolm Sayer’s evolution of the ‘E’. Substitute the earlier car’s curves and pinched extremities for a more lineal form language and it becomes apparent that the Sayer DNA runs deep.

The E-Type appears on its toes, while the XJ-S with its wide track and low build, hugs the ground. The frontal aspect is dominated by the large ovoid headlamp units flanking a narrow strip of grille. The departure here from previous Jaguar styling themes is obvious but this treatment was entirely consistent with styling norms of the time where distinctive grille shapes were becoming less compatible with contemporary surfacing. It’s possible to see in this too, a flattened version of the E-Type’s air intake.

Image: forum-miata
Image: forum-miata

The rear sail-panels dominate the shape and character of the rear, not only serving a distinct aerodynamic function, but also visually disguising the truncated appearance of the canopy. The sail panels themselves lend a distinct and somewhat Gothic appearance to the rear of the car and in so doing provide both visual interest and the illusion of a fastback in what is essentially a three-volume silhouette.

Viewed in this manner, the XJ-S appears coiled and purposeful; its muscular stance and strong proportions suggesting power and litheness, aided by the car’s low roofline and crouching stature which combines elegance with a subtle menace.

Seen through more critical eyes however, several aspects appear less harmonious. The position of the rear wheels in relation to the rear three-quarter light emphasises the shortness of the wheelbase and pronounced overhangs. The detailing of the canopy area is fussy and although it is apparent that the chromed daylight opening surround has been carefully shaped to harmonise with the outline of the sail panels, large swathes of matt black have been applied to lessen the impact of the colossal C-pillars, a device that only serves to emphasise the paucity of the glass area.

The transition from front to rear does seem abrupt. Viewed from the rear three quarters, the inward twist of the rear buttresses also lends the rear a slightly weak appearance, the dipping rear lamp units also contributing to this somewhat melancholic effect. But the XJ-S’ visuals are totally overwhelmed by the imposition of enormous US-specification 5-mph bumpers. Furthermore, the expanses of matt black lend a cheapening effect, giving the impression of detail design work being subject to a lack of clarity and cost-cutting. Yet beneath the barnacles, the XJ-S was in essence a striking, handsome form.

Image credit: Unattributed

The interior styling became another area of departure from accepted norms. The most striking aspect being a lack of natural materials. Apart from the leather seat facings, the XJ-S interior was a symphony of petrochemicals and a shrine to ’70s modernism. Perceived as an up to date interpretation of a sporting Jaguar, linear forms predominated in the shape of the IP and centre console.

The instruments referenced aircraft practice with a central display of rotating drum minor instruments flanked by more traditional circular speedometer and rev-counter dials. The effect was business-like but lacked richness. Matt black predominated and especially in darker trim colours, the cabin appeared gloomy and unappealing. Even the seats were thin-looking and meanly upholstered. This unconventional and unconvincing interior style only served to compound the car’s lukewarm initial reception.


Widely seen as the most outspoken and irreverent of the UK’s automotive titles, Car was the journal most automotive journalists and commentators looked towards. The committee-design assertion emanated from this source, which illustrates that journalists are as prone to suggestion as anyone. Certainly, this assertion quickly morphed into established fact.

Car editor Mel Nichols made his views clear in October 1975, stating; “Of the people who’d seen the XJ-S before release, I met only one who thought it looked anything other than disappointing… you can extract the confession [from Jaguar] that so far as the detail styling goes the XJ-S is something of a committee car”. He goes on to state, “So the XJ-S’ styling doesn’t quite make it; it pays the penalty of its committee work, and of its extraordinarily long gestation period.”

What is beyond debate is that XJ-S was a compromised design from a company in the grip of profound creative and cultural change and its eventual appearance reflected the belaboured process of its birth. Malcolm Sayer’s vision was nothing short of the next leap forward for Jaguar style – an entirely new, post-Lyons aesthetic. But following his tragic death, Jaguar’s inexperienced styling team were forced to deal with a creative vacuum, placing the nascent XJ27 in an unique set of circumstances.

There’s little tangible evidence to suggest BLMC management meddled with the XJ27’s appearance. It is more likely their influence was confined to the positioning of the model in the marketplace, which manifested itself in the car’s specification, and its ambitious pricing. A far stronger case can be made in relation to the malign effect of US regulations.

The car’s conception was repeatedly set back by changes in US legislation, much of which was never fully enacted. The proposed federal law banning convertibles prevented Jaguar from sanctioning an open version – a decision which would damage the XJ-S’ sales prospects for well over a decade. Worst of all was the effect upon the car’s aesthetics from the imposition of the regulatory 5-mph bumpers – their clumsy integration (across all markets) doing as much to adversely affect the car’s reception as any single factor.

The designed by committee pejorative has served the XJ-S’ detractors well over the decades and remains a comforting rationale to hold onto. A great many critics never quite forgave the XJ-S for not being another E-Type. Yet it was never Jaguar’s intention to produce a sports car in that mould. Detail styling aside, XJ-S was exactly what Lyons and Sayer set out to achieve – as fine a grand touring car as was within their abilities to produce – but above all, a Jaguar.

More than that however, Sayer set out to conceive an entirely new creative direction. But to further slam the lid on the whole committee-car smear, when put to him by this author, former Engineering Director (and lead engineer on XJ-S), Jim Randle commented, “It must have been a small committee!”

Ian Callum more recently added his voice to the XJ-S’ rehabilitation, telling Top Gear magazine, “I am beginning to appreciate the elegance of this car. I love the single positive and beautiful waistline… It’s not voluptuous, but it does have proper Jaguar design DNA.”

Yet for many, it remains Jaguar’s ‘Dylan goes electric’ moment, a Rubicon they refuse to cross. But as the passage of time allows us to see the XJ-S with more nuance, perhaps we can see it for what it always was – a landmark Jaguar and fitting epitaph to a true visionary.


[1] Sir William was also a member of the BLMC board of management, giving him a veto over any direct interference by any BLMC director or division. However, following Lyons’ retirement in 1972, matters altered considerably.

[2] Regarding the sail panels: The theory as described in the text was subsequently confirmed to this author as being correct by Jim Randle in 2016.

[3] Author, Brian Long in his history of the XJ-S recounts how a number of alternative XJ27 proposals were put forward, there being at one point a double-sided styling ‘buck’ with Sayer’s design on one side and one by stylist, Oliver Winterbottom on the other. Nevertheless, Sir William apparently maintained faith with the Sayer proposal, choosing it over the alternatives. 

More on buttresses here.

More on the XJ-S here.

Driven to Write makes it into print. Pity they didn’t ask first. Read more here

Philip Porter/Paul Skilleter – Sir William Lyons Biography
Philip Porter – E-Type – Definitive History
Paul Skilleter – XJ-S Autohistory
Graham Robson – XJ-S The Complete Story
Brian Long – The Book of the Jaguar XJ-S
Car Magazine / Motor / Classic Cars / Autosport /

©Driven to Write. All rights reserved.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

13 thoughts on “Reconvening the Committee”

  1. Great article. An early pre HE XJ-S in a bright “un-Jaguar” colour is a beautiful looking car to my eyes. I would be very happy to have that yellow one in my collection. The later facelifted examples with their dull colours and wood trim do nothing whatsoever for me.

    1. We are back to colour again. I agree: these big cars in big, bright colours are lovely to look at. What is up with our society that people feel they have to have a cold-coloured car or that they can expect to pay less for a used-car in a fun colour? I must inquire. Google must know.

    2. Very pleased you enjoyed it Eric. Of course the irony at the time was that early-era XJ-S’ were mostly available in a rather limited palette of non-metallic paint finishes. As far as I can tell, only the US market got anything with a metallic finish. In fact, for a good year after the Castle Bromwich paint plant came on stream in late 1978, the only colours available were red, white or yellow.

  2. I love the XJ-S as much as I dislike the E-type. I’ve always thought the XJ-S looks mean and lush at the same time; an intriguing combination if you ask me.

    1. I regularly see E-types on the move, that’s posh Bath and Dublin for you, they just don’t do it for me. Their engines are a joy to listen to though.

  3. Recently, US website, Curbside Classic ran a retrospective Road & Track test from 1976 on the XJ-S, where the author also levelled the committee styling accusation at Jaguar, confirming that the United States motor press was at least as perplexed and hostile to the car’s appearance as many of their UK counterparts.

    Everybody, it seems wanted another E-Type. Everybody that is, apart from Jaguar’s customers – and one imagines, Jaguar themselves.

  4. Great article.
    Are you sure it was a Ohio state law that threatened to outlaw convertibles? I had always heard it was US federal roll over standards that was to have no exclusion for convertibles. This New York Times article from 1981 says “Although Government safety rules were often blamed for the convertible’s demise, auto makers say the real culprits were airconditioning, sun roofs and high-speed freeways.”

  5. This is a fine article, well researched and well written.

    I am glad to hear the XJ-S has its fans… if you are one, good news, because I doubt there is a better value old 70s/80s/90s coupe on the market. Available with a choice of straight six, V12 or V8 powerplants, no less.

    Sadly, I am not a fan. I have always found something unlikeable about this car, and it is not due to unflattering comparisons to the E type. Its proportions and detailing are somehow irritating to me. I prefer the facelift version because at least that improved that awful ‘reverse’ chrome edging around the rear of the DLO.

    More recently, other brands have experimented with a chrome design detail like this, notably Infiniti. It never works.

    1. Thanks Jacomo. Pleased you enjoyed the article. I must however point out the XJ-S (or indeed XJS as it later became) was never offered by the factory with V8 power. The AJ26 unit was introduced with the 1996 X100 XK8 model, by which time, the XJS had been discontinued.

      For clarity, the model was designed around the V12 – the only Jaguar so created. In 1983, the AJ6 in-line powerplant was introduced, firstly to broaden the model’s appeal, but secondly (and more importantly) to gain vital experience of the new engine in the public domain. According to Jim Randle, the installation wasn’t a difficult one – there being plenty of room in that vast engine bay – but early AJ6 engines suffered refinement issues owing to inherent noise and vibration-damping limitations inherent in the alloy block.

      The 3.6 models remain rather unloved as there is a perception that it’s only half an engine by comparison to that peerlessly smooth running V12 and perhaps there’s some truth in that. However, the six will easily manage 20-25 mpg, whereas the twelve might manage 18.

      Regarding the DLO treatment, I would contend that neither version got it entirely right, but the facelift car is to these eyes, less satisfying. But these matters are of course subjective.

  6. Hi Eóin, I’ve just caught up with this excellent piece of research and writing. Nice work, thank you.

    I’ve always been in two minds about the major facelift the XJ-S received in later life where the DLO and tail were altered radically. The result was more conventional and, I guess, more palatable to conservative buyers, but was rather chrome-heavy and lost the distinctiveness of the original. At least the bumpers were a great deal better integrated.

    Incidentally, for those who are unaware of it, there was an aborted proposal for a Daimler version of the XJ-S with no buttresses and a conventional glasshouse. It makes for an interesting comparison:

    I wonder how it performed in aerodynamic terms?

    1. Pleased you enjoyed it Daniel. Jaguar’s then engineering director, Jim Randle operated an after-hours skunkworks where he would co-opt volunteers to carry out unauthorised engineering or styling projects, which he would then present to the Jaguar board as ‘thought experiments’. The 1983 XJ-SC cabriolet was one such – a car he told me made Jaguar about £75m while costing them a relative pittance to develop.

      The Daimler shown above was another of these – merely a cabrio body, sans roll bar etc, with the optional hardtop blended fully into the bodywork. Factions within Jaguar had been trying all manner of ideas to get away from Sayer’s buttress sail panels for years, but this was to my knowledge the only one which was produced in full size.

      It was presented in clinics to existing XJ-S owners, who to a man (and woman) disliked the shorn-buttress appearance. Jaguar was surprised as anyone, but by the mid-80s, XJ-S customers insisted they retain the sail panels.
      Furthermore, the Daimler name meant nothing in the US market (except to Mercedes owners of course) so the idea was quietly dropped.

      There is little doubt that it would have been considerably less efficient through the air, because Sayer’s calculations were always pretty much spot-on. The car survives incidentally, as part of Jaguar’s Heritage collection.

  7. I find a certain delicious irony in the fact that Jaguar’s XJ-S engineering “mule”, which was sneered at in various circles, achieved immortality on television as Ian Ogilvy’s mount in RETURN OF THE SAINT (almost as legendary as the Volvo 1800 in the 1960’s Roger Moore series).

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