Lightning Flash

Lost causes – missing links – exhuming Jaguar’s stillborn XJ21.

1967 E-Type 2+2. Image: Classic & Sportscar

As descriptive metaphors go, bottled lightning requires little by way of explanation or exposition on the part of the writer. In 1961, Jaguar Cars successfully manged this seemingly impossible feat with the introduction of the E-Type, a car which itself would come to stand as metaphor for a now mythologised era of hedonism, permissiveness and social change. But in the Spring of ’61 all of that was for the future. Meanwhile, the manner in which the E-Type was received took Jaguar’s CEO somewhat by surprise.

Attending the E’s euphoric US debut in 1961, Sir William Lyons became painfully aware that while prospective customers were enraptured by the car, many simply couldn’t comfortably fit inside its decidedly snug fitting cabin. Something, he quickly reasoned, had to be done. Lyons contacted Browns Lane, saying he wanted a longer E-Type body to be made; “I shall be back at the weekend and I want to see one“, he demanded. This was duly attended to, but further progress would become mired in  deliberation and stasis.

Thoughts of replacing the E-Type remained a good way down the Jaguar founder’s list of priorities as mid-decade loomed. His more pressing priority was to ensure the unprecedented demand for the car could be fulfilled. Success however had its downsides and by 1966, the E-Type’s more practical deficiencies, hitherto easily brushed aside, would move into sharper focus.

Amongst the matters Sir William was troubling himself over during this period of uncertainty was the perceived necessity to enter the personal luxury coupé market, the major growth area within the US during the 1960s. It would not be until he committed to the XJ4[1] programme in 1964 that a decision on what would become the 2+2 E-Type would be made.

A full sized XJ21 mock up at Browns lane circa-1967/8. Image: autosdeculto

1966 would be a more than usually frantic year at Browns Lane, with Jaguar’s engineers desperately trying to cope with an especially onerous workload[2]. March that year, following a protracted development process, saw the debut of the 2+2 fixed-head E-Type[3]. But as the motor press were poring over the new, long-wheelbase and taller-canopied E-Type model, aerodynamicist, Malcolm Sayer began a series of speculative schemes for modified E-Type models[4] at technical director, Bill Haynes’ behest.

This would over time become what was internally referred to as XJ21[5], a speculative E-Type replacement. These schematics would take innumerable forms, but what each had in common was the basic E-Type monocoque structure with its detachable front structure which carried the powertrain and front suspension. A variety of Jaguar engines appear to have been envisaged, from a short-stroke 3-litre version of the existing XK six to the forthcoming V12 and its stillborn V8 relative. Rear suspension was to be carried over unchanged.

Image: Jaguar Rules

A double-sided XJ21 styling buck, said to be from 1967, with one side of the proposal employing a nascent version of the buttress or sail panel feature as seen on XJ-S.

Image: Practical Classic

Through 1967 and into ’68[6] the XJ21 style would evolve considerably, Sayer latterly adopting a more Italianate appearance, at this point utilising the longer wheelbase platform for both open and closed versions. A number of full-sized double sided styling models were produced around this period, but along with a great many other details, it is unclear whether all formed part of Sayer’s deliberations, or rival schemes orchestrated by Sir William within his own secret workshop[7].

The Oliver Winterbottom XJ21/27 proposal. Image: AROnline

Sir William had also initiated a dedicated styling studio at the old Daimler works in Radford, headed by Doug Thorpe. Here, a scheme by neophyte stylist, Oliver Winterbottom was realised in quarter scale. Resembling a more lithe interpretation of Bertone’s Iso Grifo, the design was believed to have received a positive reception from Lyons, but was not actioned – possibly a function of the likely cost of production – the Winterbottom car being notably broader than even the wide-track E-Type.

In his seminal E-Type history, marque historian, Philip Porter concluded that the definitive XJ21 design (seen above) featured a similar set of proportions to that of the later 2+2 E-Types, but employed more lineal surfaces, a lower nose with retractable headlamps and what appears to be a fixed rollover hoop, common to both open and closed models. The Coupé on the other hand embodied something of the flavour of the contemporary Maserati Mistral, with a large wrap-around rear screen.

Image: AROnline

Muddying the waters still further is a further undated proposal[8], (above and below) which not only bears the hallmarks of Sayer’s eye for line, but also marks the point where more familiar XJ-S body forms began to establish themselves. Substitute the fastback canopy for the semi-three-volume roofline of the XJ-S and you have in effect a clear demonstration of the nascent XJ-S style – the nose treatment suggesting a solution explored before proposed US lighting and bumper mandates forced a rethink.

Image: AROnline

XJ21 was a secretive programme known only to a few within Browns Lane. It was not a priority, given the E-Type’s continued success at the time, a factor which may have been to its ultimate detriment. Certainly, it seemed to lack impetuous from Jaguar’s CEO and styling imperator, probably because Lyons was now dealing primarily with the effects of the BMH merger and its subsequent absorption into British Leyland.

Several more compelling reasons however conjoined to hole XJ21 beneath the waterline, most of which centred around the inherited body architecture which dated back to the late 1950s. Designed primarily as a sports/racing car, the E-Type was a clear descendent of the racing D-Type. Hence the cockpit was both narrow and relatively short (even with a wheelbase stretch) and certainly by the standards of the early 1970s, when XJ21 was envisaged to go on sale, it would have been unfeasibly cramped.

The E-Type’s structure, where a large proportion of the body strength was centred in the scuttle/bulkhead area made it nigh-impossible to install a suitable air conditioner unit, vital to the car’s commercial chances in the US. Furthermore, the detachable front subframe proved detrimental to the bodyshell’s torsional rigidity. More fundamental still was the fact that with the fuel tank mounted beneath the boot floor, the car would not be in compliance with proposed US rear impact regulations, thereby necessitating a total rethink of the structure, negating any potential savings garnered from utilising an existing platform[9].

It is also possible that Lyons may not have been entirely convinced by the style of the car. Malcolm Sayer, despite his undoubted talents, was not a stylist and his designs were primarily driven by the integrity of his calculations, rather than by simple aesthetics. The soft-formed schemes as seen, while contemporary by late 1960s standards were not the quantum leap the market might have expected and by its projected release date, risked appearing dated against the machinery emanating from Italy and elsewhere.

A speculative Malcolm Sayer rendering for XJ27 from September 1968. Note the similarity to the proposal above. Image: retromotive

In September 1968, it was decided to go forward with a 2+2 GT proposal employing a modified XJ saloon platform[10]. Sayer’s outline memo described “a low, wide high speed car at least as eye catching as those the Italians will produce…”, backing up his thesis with a number of rudimentary styling sketches. By now, a third-series E-Type[11] was being considered, primarily as a means of carrying out a soft launch for the new V12 engine. As both this and the XJ27[12] programme got under way in 1969, progress on XJ21 ground to a halt[13].

Partially concealed under dustsheets in the Browns Lane experimental studio is what was probably the definitive XJ21 styling prototype circa-1969/70. Image: AROnline

Many have decried XJ21’s fate as a miscalculation. But was it a case of escaped lightning? The E-Type was after all in some ways a happy accident, at least in the manner in which it melded with the societal changes, the music, fashion and mores of the era. The E-Type spoke of shifting tectonic plates, of an optimistic future where almost anyone could travel at 150 mph. By 1968 however, Jaguar, like just about everyone else was struggling to make sense of a shifting landscape, where ’60s utopia was being replaced by cynicism, rancour and increased regulation. Spokesperson of a generation was asking a lot of the E-Type in 1961 – recapturing its impact for a new decade was asking even more of Jaguar.

In addition, had Browns Lane gone ahead, the resultant car would have been as much of an indulgent V12-powered GT as the E-Type later evolved into, rather than the lithe tearaway the ‘E’ started life as being. That simply was the direction the market was taking, especially in the United States.

Most of Sayer’s drawings and schematics were not dated, defeating the efforts of even the most well-informed of Jaguar’s historians at establishing a definitive XJ21 timeline. In the end, what we have are a series of educated guesses, of which this piece is but one. But what can be fairly reliably inferred is that the most progressive of the proposals were almost certainly the most recent and that from a stylistic perspective at least, XJ27 broadly took up where XJ21 ceased.

With elements of XJ21 employed elsewhere then, it may not have been a total waste, proving instead to have been a useful thought experiment and crucial pathfinder for XJ-S. It also underlined something far more eloquent: that the E-Type was tougher to replace than even Jaguar imagined. In effect, it would prove impossible. Lightning rarely strikes twice.

More on the XJ-S

[1] XJ4 was the internal project code for the 1968 XJ saloon. 

[2] September 1966 saw the announcement of the 420 and 420G saloons – the latter being a facelifted version of the full-size Mark 10. In addition, work was progressing on the XJ4 programme, XJ13 race car and Daimler DS420 Limousine.

[3] Known internally as XJ8.

[4] Sayer’s initial schemes were for a short-nosed E-Type, owing to a perception that the production nose was too long for Europe. Longer bodies were also envisaged, as were wider-tracked versions – the latter believed to be favoured by Bill Heynes. Another feature of the Sayer proposals was the removal of the central bonnet hump – a feature disliked by the aerodynamicist. 

[5] XJ21 has on occasion been referred to as the Series 4 E-Type.

[6] Autumn 1968 would also mark the introduction of the XJ6 saloon and the revised, Series 2 E-Type models (XJ22), which contained several of the styling changes previously schemed – notably, the revised screen angle on fixed-head models.

[7] Within Jaguar there were at this time quite a number of styling workshops working under the umbrella term of ‘experimental’. They appeared to operate almost entirely independently of one another. 

[8] Some chroniclers have referred to this as an XJ21 proposal, however on reflection (and a good deal of study) this amateur detective concludes it to have most likely been a transitional scheme from XJ21 and 27.

[9] Not that this prevented other carmakers from siting fuel tanks in the line of fire, but Jaguar, as a comparatively small-scale importer prudently elected not to expose itself in such a crucial market. 

[10] It quickly became apparent that funding from the BLMC parent would be heavily regulated. It’s highly unlikely that XJ21, based as it was upon the E-Type body structure would have been sanctioned by Donald Stokes.  

[11] The Series 3 E-Type (dubbed XJ25 in Browns Lane) will be covered separately.

[12] XJ27 would become the 1975 XJ-S.

[13] XJ21 had an engineering designation, a product timeline, provisional launch date and it’s believed, discussions had taken place with Pressed Steel over body tooling. 

Sources: Jaguar E-Type- The Definitive History: Philip Porter (Haynes)/ Jaguar XJ-S – The Complete Story: Graham Robson (Crowood)/ Jaguar Saloon Cars: Paul Skilleter (Heynes)/ The Book of the Jaguar XJ-S: Brian Long (Veloce)/ Motor magazine/ Practical Classic/ Jaguar World

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

49 thoughts on “Lightning Flash”

  1. Finally,in the second to last picture, in that one picture is the reason for the unique, (to be charitable), side profile of what some call the DLO, (Day Light Opening) of the first model XJS. The look is crystallised in that one sketch

  2. Good morning Eóin. Well done on your valiant work to unravel the tortuous history that culminated in the launch the XJ-S. I guess it was always going to be tough to replace an icon like the F-Type, but the story, like so many involving the British motor industry in the 1960s and ’70s, is one of indecision, lack of focus, wasted effort and delay, ending up in a compromised and unhappy outcome. History would, of course, repeat itself when it came to replacing the XJ-S.

  3. Despite its apparent compromises as a car whose architecture was said to have dated back from the late-1950s and that it would have likely been more a Series 3 E-Type rather than a return to the pervious E-Type Series models, at best XJ21 would have been a suitable transition between the E-Type and XJ-S on an exterior level.

    Seem to recall reading of a smaller Jaguar model possibly the XJ 3-litre GT 2+2 (either Daimler V8 if not possibly a 3-litre XK6) that was to make use of an “all-new platform” with bits from other BMC models which had the same wheelbase and width as the SWB E-Type although slightly longer than say a Triumph GT6. It was soon followed by a larger 2-door 4-seater scheme known variously as the Jaguar Small Car (to be equipped with V12-based V8), XJ Junior and (Coventry Climax V8 powered) 1.8 – 2.5 Litre baby XJ project that still featured the same wheelbase yet a shade more width and additional length only a bit smaller than a BMW 02 (though slightly longer and wider than say a Triumph Dolomite despite being viewed as a competitor to the Triumph 2000/2500).

    Jaguar at the time appears to have recognised they would have needed something to fill the void left by the E-Type as it grew into the Series 3 and later the XJ-S via XJ21, however it never amounted to anything especially after BL came into being.

    Had the opportunity been available the ideal for a more direct E-Type successor (being smaller as a consequence of the XJ-S growing larger) IMHO would largely retain the wheelbase and width of the SWB E-Type, carried over the XJ21’s styling (particularly the later XJ27 forerunner schemes) and initially made use of the planned short-stroke 2.6-3-litre XK6 units rather than the aging Daimler V8 or leftfield Coventry Climax V8 engines.

  4. Impressive reconstruction, Eóin, thanks. It seems to me that had the XJ21 been produced, an alternate universe version of this article would be along the lines of “an object lesson in not trying to stretch a platform too much”. As you mention, the styling seems out of step with the late ‘sixties and early ‘seventies (although such things are difficult to reliably discern when so much time has passed), and the platform most definitely would have been. Frankly, some of these look like a more conventional sports car to be produced alongside the E-type, rather than replacements. I don’t mean that to sound as negative as perhaps it does: some of these proposals are rather lovely, especially given that they’d have been refined before entering production.

    Speaking of that, one could also wonder – given the financials of Jaguar and BL – what readying the XJ21 for production would have done to the available budget for other models, particularly the XJ-S. At any rate, the (progression towards the) c-pillar and window treatment of the XJ-S looks like an unhappy one, although particularly the image from Jaguar Rules seems to hint at the face-lifted version already. Things were not always better in the past.

  5. Great article, which spans the void between where the E-Type left off and the XJS started. As mentioned in the article and underlined by David Walker in the comments above, one can see the evolution and emergence of the latter’s key design elements from the sketches and models shown. It also demonstrates the importance of the translation of details from the pad to production – I really like the ellipse shape of the panel at the rear of the car in that sketch to which David eludes, above the rear bumper, and how the form of the rear lamps and number plate panel would be contained therein. Compare with the shape of the rear of the production XJS, and much of the subtlety and elegance is lost. Imagine now that the rear buttresses had been replaced by a regular hatch, or some degree of domed glass rear window and the XJS could have looked really rather special. I never really minded the production car that much, but articles like this bring home what might have been.

    1. Now that you mention a hatch solution for the XJ-S – maybe it’s something with my spectacles but somehow the rear window surround of the sketched car and the way its waist level crease flows through the wheelarch lip and then downwards and the contour of the front wing strongly remind me of the Alfa Montreal.

    2. Hi S.V. No need to imagine how an XJS liftback might have looked, or even for me to play with my crayons. I found this online:

      At first I assumed it was a Photoshop effort, but then I found this:

    3. It’s not bad, but not quite how I think it would have been had Jaguar done it themselves originally.

    4. There’s also this one 🙂

      It doesn’t look like a photoshop to me and sort of works but feels wrong at the same time…..

    5. Both the hatch and the rear lamps on that bastardised red XJS look like they have come from a Xantia.

  6. Here’s another XJ-S ‘liftback’:

    It seems like a lot of effort for not much gain. Why not just buy a Lynx Eventer instead?

    Is it just me, or is the Eventer ageing rather well?

    1. It’s just you Daniel 😀

      When viewed forward of the door rear shut line it looks fine.

      When viewed rearward of the door rear shut line it looks fine.

      When viewed as a whole, the rear overhang is enormous and sadly I don’t think moving the rear wheels back would improve matters.

    2. Hi John. Fair enough. I wonder if a wider B-pillar might improve matters?

    3. Actually, moving the rear wheel might help a little:

      Or… is that just me?

      😁

      Here’s a wider B-pillar as well:

      (VERY quick and dirty hackjob)

    4. Nice work, Tom. The wider B-pillar does help to balance up the DLO somewhat. 👍

    5. Thanks, guys. I was surprised at how nice it looks, although it probably wouldn’t work as well on the regular XJS because of the sloping roof.

      Notwithstanding the existential horror of grafting a Citroën Xantia tailgate onto a Jaguar, the shorter rear of the resulting mongrel does balance the design a little better.

  7. I find the efforts of small companies or even individuals to alter the original shape of a given car model admirable and worthy of respect no matter of the end result. The amount of effort put in to such an accomplishment deserves my respect as a sign of great perseverance and also shows the existence of an artistic interest even at a very primitive stage.
    The success of the trial is a matter of talent, more or less.
    But still, I admire them.
    Daniel I liked the first XJS liftback 30 OXJ you posted although a side view is needed!
    Very interesting article!!!

    1. Good morning Constantinos. Here you go, a side view of 30 OXJ:

      It’s actually little different from the production car as the liftback sits between the ‘flying butresses’.

    2. Seen from behind 30 OXJ has a weak point where the roof flows into the third brake light. This makes it look like a modern Benz’s egg shaped roof, only that in this case the rear window does not look like a toilet seat as in current Benzes.

  8. Thanks Daniel for the side profile, I must note you are quick as the wind!
    And yes Dave, whenever a new Benz is in front of me I see the bonet, I see the shut lines, I see the tail lights and I know something is wrong. But I also notice how smoothly the whole carrosserie flows with no crests and zig-zag lines, and I am left puzzled about what is actually wrong.

    1. Thanks Constantinos. I think what’s wrong with the styling of most current Mercedes-Benz models is they look rather flaccid and lack any tension. It’s as though they took the previous-generation designs and removed all the feature lines, leaving just a rather amorphous shape behind, something that could have been turned out of a jelly-mould. Your photo of the current C-Class below is a good example of this problem. It looks under-wheeled, thanks to the unadorned depth of the rear quarters above the wheel arch, which is ridiculous, given that it’s probably on 19″ wheels.

      If that’s what ‘Sensual Purity’ is all about, then thanks, but I’ll pass.

  9. I’d wondered what a four door version of the XJS would look like. Starting with the side view in Daniel’s picture, the idea would be to lengthen the wheelbase, stretching the rear passenger accommodation and lengthening the rear windows allowing incorporation of rear doors. This would yield some much needed legroom for the back seat occupants (they presently have none!). Could you alter the image to give an indication how that would look?

    1. Now, there’s a challenge! I’m slightly fragile this morning after a very convivial dinner party yesterday evening, but I might have a crack at it later when I’ve a steadier hand!

    2. Here you go, J T. Original first for comparison:

      A bit ‘quick and dirty’, but you get the idea. I’ve pulled back the front door’s leading edge shut-line significantly to better balance up the doors.

  10. Wow! That IS interesting.

    I think it needs a longer rear door. Can you stretch the rear door and glass? If that was done the front door shut-line could remain as in the original car.

    1. Hi J T. Sorry, I’ve only just seen your comment on the four-door XJS. Here it is with a further stretch in the wheelbase, all in the rear door:

      I’ve left the front door as in the previous image because I think it still looks better balanced than it would with the XJS’s extremely long front door.

      Imagine if Jaguar had built that on the XJ40 LWB platform. I would certainly have bought it!

    2. JT/ Daniel: Jaguar got there a good way before. This from 1972. Perhaps the most convincing of the proposed XJ40 styling models, based very heavily upon XJ-S styling themes.

    3. Thanks for sharing that image, Eóin. One can’t help wondering, if Jaguar had taken that brave stylistic leap forward in the late 1970s, where the company might be now.

  11. There’s a bit of 2010 Mulsanne about that Jaguar model.

    Daniel’s four-door XJS puts me in mind of a Autocar or Motor article from c.1976-77, titled something like “Jaguars for the ’80s”. It had no basis in fact, just speculative renderings by their illustrator to accompany the technical writers’ notions of what Jaguar could consider doing to produce a modern range based on the styling themes of the recently introduced XJ-S. Wish I’d kept it…

    The XJS rendering puts me in mind of the BMW 8 series Gran’s Coupe, an example of which has just appeared in the neighbourhood.

    Despite a conditioned impulse to dislike it, I find it elegant and visually pleasing, and the sort of car Jaguar should be making but aren’t.

    1. Hi Robertas. I think that the 8 Series Gran Coupé, like so many current BMWs, makes its 6 Series predecessor look rather better than I remember it when in production:

    2. Jaguar’s design team were on to something with that 1972 XJ40 proposal. Not only was it wholly convincing, but it honoured the longstanding Jaguar tradition of the saloon styling being informed by the more sporting model. (It would have been even better with the sail panels in my estimation) – but then I’m one of those strange people who like the buttresses – (and the misery, it would follow). Sadly, owing it appears to the Jaguar stylists’ inexperience in clay modelling at the time, much was lost when it was enlarged to 1 : 1 scale. Politics killed it anyway. Stokes et Barber thought it was too Jaguary. Not required on voyage.

      Robertas: The current ‘The 8’ GC has the bones of a handsome car buried beneath its plethora of creases, inlets, fake outlets, diffusers, graphics and ‘effects’. Unlike its 2-door sibling, the proportions are quite decent and I agree, Jaguar should really be making something like this. But Jaguar cannot be allowed to make Jaguars – that’s everyone else’s job.

  12. The flying buttresses of the XJS were intended to have two functions, one structural and one aerodynamic. The structural function is the one we can consider today.

    If you examine the preceding XJ4 sedan carefully you’ll discover that the rear suspension “box” (where the rear suspension subframe is located) and the structure aft of that is a little less rigid than expected. This is not a major problem in itself, under normal circumstances. Just note that there is more deflection possible than would normally be considered ideal.

    Whenever the XJ4 is accelerated the subframe tries to pitch upwards in the front and downwards at the back. The differential snout wants to go up. In other words the entire subframe and suspension assembly rotates about an axis transverse to the car centre-line. This is resisted by four very special rubber mounts, two on each side. Some subframe movement is allowed. That is deliberate. The amount of movement is determined by the stiffnesses of the four rubber mounts. The forces resisted by the four rubber blocks are transmitted to the structure of the car. The boot and rear structure of the car gets pulled downwards. This is not a problem in normal circumstances, although a car which has been driven very hard consistently or has been raced may begin to show some permanent deformation or even cracks. Inspection of the C-pillar area (particularly inside the car) may reveal this issue. As far as I have been able to discover the relative lack of structure in this part of the car is an artifact from the development process for XJ4. It appears the reactive pitch forces were not originally intended to be resolved in this area of the car structure (hint: torque tube).

    Returning to XJS, you can see that the buttresses solved the structural stiffness problem right from the outset by tying the back of the car into the roof. This is a much more rigid arrangement than the XJ4 provided and it allowed for the retention of Jaguar’s standard rear suspension in subframe assembly carried by the four special rubber mounts without introducing any new issues (and development costs).

    Now who remembers that old saying about form and function?

    1. JT: In Browns Lane parlance, the Buttresses were always referred to as Sail Panels, fins or fairings. I have never heard any Jaguar insider refer to them as buttresses. The use of ‘Flying buttresses’ was an entirely journalistic construct – still widely in (inaccurate) use in the case of the XJ-S. Firstly, because most auto journalists don’t know any better and second, because it sounds more dramatic to a writer. A flying buttress, as those architecture students amongst us will know is only joined to the main structure at a single point (see Maserati Merak, or any Gothic cathedral you care to mention), whereas a buttress-proper is attached in its entirety (XJ-S, innumerable Ferraris, earlier churches).

      For Malcolm Sayer, the purpose of the sail panels was to guide the airflow over the rear portion of the car, managing the breakaway from the leading edge of the roof and preventing disturbances in the car’s wake, hence minimising drag. They served a similar purpose to the vertical tail fin as fitted to the Le Mans D-Types. That they also had a structural basis would likely have been for him, a pleasing coincidence. Mind you, he was a clever bloke, so perhaps he had worked that out as well. Either way, the benefits weren’t lost on Bob Knight’s engineers, who appreciated the additional rigidity it lent the bodyshell. This additional strength (and its subsequent loss) was one of the reasons the drophead XJ-S never came close to the refinement of the fixed roof car.

      The structural rigidity of the XJ-S body may also have helped account for why the car was fairly straightforward to develop. Once you get the structure right, the rest tends to follow.

      Jaguar was fortunate with XJ4. Fortunate to have had such a talented team of engineers working on the car and fortunate that they were capable of solving what looked like a disastrous reversal of fortune, which could have scuppered the entire programme with a lesser team.

  13. Hi Daniel

    Yes. Me too. I’d have purchased one of those. They could have provided the perfect sports sedan compliment to the XJ4 sedans.

    1. There are innumerable photos of this and many other XJ40 styling prototypes (and there were a great many of them) in the various books published about the 40’s development, not to mention the more recent history of Jaguar design by former Whitley stylist, Nick Hull. The mighty AROnline have managed to pull together most of them. In my view, whatever the quality of the various proposals (and some were quite poor), it’s very difficult to imagine how anything other than what they finished up with would have been acceptable to the marketplace by 1986.

      https://www.aronline.co.uk/concepts-and-prototypes/concepts-and-prototypes-jaguar-xj40-part-1/

  14. Hi Eoin

    Thanks for that link. There were some in there I’d not seen previously. Most interesting indeed.

    My view on this is that XJ40 was not a completely finished product when launched. That ’72 prototype could have been adapted to be a XJ series IV restyle, thus buying extra time for the XJ40 to be properly completed (or as Prof Randall preferred, restarted from scratch).

    XJ40 is close to what was wanted, but the front and rear are not quite right. Also there is a little piece of trim at the base of the c-pillar that needed to go away (John Egan knew all about it!)…

    1. JT: The body join at the base of the D-pillar was not appreciated by anyone within Browns Lane, apart from Manufacturing, who insisted upon it, since they wanted to get out of the lead-loading business once and for all. Professor Randle told me in 2016 that his colleagues in manufacturing wouldn’t budge on this. The matter was resolved with the X300/308 body.

  15. Hi Eoin

    I understand. Still, they could have used a nicer looking trim piece there. There are so many nicer possibilities than what they actually did choose to use. It could have been a flush, body coloured item for a start. What were they thinking?

    Lead loading…. oh yes. When you restore an XJ4 you find out all about that. Lead. Lots of Pb. Perhaps Jaguar hadn’t heard of bog!

    There is still an element of “unfinished” about the front face (headlights and grill area) and the rear (tail panel) of XJ40. I forget who the stylist was, but he mentioned that he thought the car was very close to completed and just needed a few details ironed out. He was very surprised when management signed it off in the state it was- in his opinion not ready. I agree with his assessment. It wasn’t ready. That goes for much of what was under the skin as well. Not quite there yet…

    And the window framing was far too heavy handed!

    Don’t get me wrong. I like XJ40. There are some annoying details they mucked up- some bodges that are visible. The car is really good overall and that makes it all the more annoying these blemishes are present.

    1. Good morning J.T. The original XJ40 had a really nasty piece of trim, black plastic partly covered by a chrome cap, covering the joint:

      Later cars had a plainer, body-coloured trim, but it still stood proud of the bodywork:

    2. JT: I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you on the points your raised regarding the ’40’s detail design. However, one does need to appreciate the strictures within which Jaguar’s engineers and design team were forced to work. Once BL (and the UK government) agreed to sanction the car, they wanted it yesterday. ‘No, leave that alone, it’s fine as it is…’ Allegedly, the 1980 customer clinic results backed that approach up.

      But why take my word? Let’s hear from the man who knew the ’40 best…

      Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview : Part Two

  16. Yes, you can see how the body coloured trim is a big improvement. Next step, flush trim piece.

    BTW your pictures are good. They clearly demonstrate how that detail was/is aesthetically important.

    Next we need to fix up the front of the car!

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