Genus Felidae

Marcello Gandini is rightly lauded as one of the great Italian car designers of the 20th century. However there is cause to suspect that he may have been allergic to cats.

(c) Motor

The life of a design consultant is fraught with reversals. All that time spent scouting for commissions, late night oil expended preparing and revising proposals only to receive the thanks, but no-thanks brush-off from the prospective client.

For the Italian car design houses, this had become a way of life – some you win, some you lose. This was certainly the state of affairs in late 1973, when Jaguar’s then Managing Director, Geoffrey Robinson requested carrozzeria Bertone (along with rivals, Ital Design) to Continue reading “Genus Felidae”

History Repeating – (XJ40 : 1972-1994)

We examine XJ40’s turbulent conception and ask, was this the last Jaguar?

(c) Autocar

A New Jerusalem

They said it couldn’t be done, but he’d heard that before. Nobody had presented a car at London’s prestigious Institution of Mechanical Engineers and certainly no complete vehicle had ever broached the main entrance of number One, Birdcage Walk, Westminster. This hallowed society of engineers, founded by Railway pioneer, George Stephenson in 1847, had already hosted some of the finest technical minds over its 140-year history, but August 28, 1986 would prove to be something of a first.

As Jim Randle surveyed the lecture theatre, with the still-secret new Jaguar, now back on four wheels inside and safely under wraps, Jaguar’s Director of Vehicle Engineering cast his mind back for a brief moment to Continue reading “History Repeating – (XJ40 : 1972-1994)”

1987 Jaguar XJ-6 3.6 Versus the Rover Sterling and Vauxhall Senator 3.0 CDi

How bad were Jaguar’s quality problems in 1987? And what was Car magazine thinking when the XJ6 won a giant-test against the Rover Sterling and Vauxhall Senator? The Jaguar was rusting before their eyes.

Jaguar XJ-6 3.6 automatic, with OEM rust. (c) Jaglovers

On page 129 of the November 1987 edition of Car, there is photo of a door-seal parting company from the door of a Jaguar XJ-6, a new Jaguar XJ-6 provided by Jaguar Ltd for a comparison test. Did they not check before loaning it out? Or was it fine the day it left Brown’s Lane and then rusted in the interim? Continue reading “1987 Jaguar XJ-6 3.6 Versus the Rover Sterling and Vauxhall Senator 3.0 CDi”

Theme: Concepts – 1980 Ferrari Pinin

In some ways, the 1980 Ferrari Pinin is a mess. But some of its details inspired later cars, none of which were Ferraris.

1980 Ferrari Pinin
1980 Ferrari Pinin (c) oldconceptcars

The proportions work quite well but one gets the impression Pininfarina had a hard time with the details and with marrying a form language that wanted to Continue reading “Theme: Concepts – 1980 Ferrari Pinin”

History Repeating: XJ40 Part 2

Phase One – 1972-1975: A Question of Style. Jaguar knew how XJ40 should look, but BLMC management had other ideas.

jaguarxj40october1973-1024x521
The apogee of the XJ-S inspired style – XJ40 October 1973 – image: ARonline

In October 1973, the complete XJ40 styling proposal was presented to BLMC’s Donald Stokes and John Barber. The car’s style had evolved noticeably over the intervening twelve months, but the XJ-S-inspired lineage remained. The differences lay in the height and shaping of the canopy, the daylight openings – which now featured a six-light treatment – and the addition of a lineal shoulder line. Overall, it presented a cohesive and not unattractive projection of Jaguar saloon style. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 2”

History Repeating – The Tragedy of Jaguar’s XJ40

A new Jerusalem, or nothing but the same old story? DTW examines XJ40’s turbulent conception and asks, was this the last Jaguar?

Jaguar XJ40_04 (1)
Image: (c) Jaguar Heritage

Billed at launch as the Jag without tears; a high-tech culmination of an unprecedented level of proving in some of the world’s most hostile environments, the 1986 XJ40-series represented a new beginning for the embattled marque. XJ40’s 22-year career from conception to retirement encapsulates probably the most tumultuous period in the company’s history.

The tragedy of XJ40 has a number of strands. Throughout the 1970s, XJ40 became Jaguar’s talisman, the one hope a demoralised corps could cling to when their very future was at stake. Central to this were efforts of successive engineering chiefs within Browns Lane to maintain the marque’s identity, but success in this would come at bitter cost.

As much the story of Jaguar’s dogged resistance as it is of the car itself, XJ40’s lengthy gestation would mean the end result was viewed by some as a disappointment, yet this belies the enormous efforts made to ensure XJ40 modernised, yet maintained marque traditions. The first truly modern Jaguar, the model was critically acclaimed upon release, but the car’s reputation quickly became tarnished by an early reputation for build and component issues it has never quite overcome.

Despite being the best-selling XJ series of all, XJ40 still remains something of an outcast within the official Jaguar narrative, only beginning to be appreciated for its finer qualities and for its status as arguably the most ambitious and technically pure Jaguar saloon ever.

This original series has been revised and repurposed as a single (and rather lengthy) article in light of further information coming to light – in particular following a wide-ranging interview in 2016 with XJ40’s creator, the late Professor Jim Randle. This more detailed chronicle can be found by clicking the link immediately below.
To read the piece in full, CLICK HERE

You will also find a link (below) to a large number of XJ40 related articles on the site.
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