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Jaguar XJ-S 1975-1996 // £8000-25,000 What a truly elegant coupe needs is a large, powerful and refined engine. So wh...
Jaguar XJ-S 1975-1996 // £8000-25,000

What a truly elegant coupe needs is a large, powerful and refined engine. So what better than a silky V12? Jaguar launched its luxury grand tourer, the XJ-S in 1975, replacing the rather long-in-the-tooth E-type Series III. Although the legendary Jaguar aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer had a hand in the initial shape, the XJ-S's design was completed in-house by a team lead by Doug Thorpe and the look was very different to the soft and curvy E's.

With sharp edges and those 'flying buttresses' at the rear, the big coupe's thoroughly modem styling met mixed reactions. Yet the XJ-S (later the nomenclature changed to XJS) went on to sell in good numbers, 115,413 being produced until 1996.

The all-aluminium V12 is a glorious engine, only susceptible to overheating through neglect and not any design fault. The fuel-injected 5343cc single-overhead-cam- per-bank mill is one of the smoothest ever engineered and initially produced an ample 285bhp, which meant 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. It was allied to an advanced chassis, and the XJ-S's handling and ride were class-leading.
The High Efficiency HE engine was introduced in 1980 and is more powerful and much more fuel-efficient; then the 3.6-litre six-cylinder version arrived in 1983. But let's face it, you really want one of the world's best V12s. That's what makes it special.

The 1970s styling is right back in fashion and our choice would be an early manual XJ-S as seen in such television series as the The New Avengers and Return of the Saint.

Prices vary hugely and the last thing you should buy is an old dog. Spend a bit more, go for the earliest manual you can find and enjoy one of the most sybaritic of all Jaguars. Every gentleman deserves a proper V12, after all.
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