the OTHER Jaguar XJ that never made production

I’d argue the Series 2 Jaguar XJ coupe is one of the most attractive Jaguars ever made. Controversial, I know, when we’re talking about the company that produced the E-Type.

a car parked in a parking lot: Jaguar XJ40 Coupe

© Provided by Motoring Research
Jaguar XJ40 Coupe

But the Series 2 came from a different era: an era of British Leyland, strikes and a reputation for poor build quality. The fact that such beauty emerged from such rocky times makes me even more determined to own one.

One Jaguar that’s closer to my budget, however, is the later XJ40. Although many surviving examples are looking a bit neglected, the XJ40 is an underrated design. Its boxy styling is very much of its time, despite being unmistakably a Jag.

Rearguard action

While it had Jaguar’s trademark sloping boot, legend suggests this wasn’t meant to be quite so droopy. Apparently, a full-size clay model was being transported to another part of the factory for measuring, when the boot sagged by about three quarters of an inch.

Saggy bottom or not, how attractive would an XJ40 coupe version have been? After all, it was considered on more than one occasion.

The XJ40 was in development for decades. Mooted since at least the early 1970s, it eventually arrived in 1986, and during that time there’d been no shortage of designs considered for the car meant to modernise Jaguar.

Initially, many designs were much less, well, Jag than the XJ40 turned out to be, with submissions from several Italian design houses: Pininfarina, Bertone and Ital.

Gallery: The cars of Lamborghini’s go-to designer (Motoring Research)

While the idea for an XJ40 coupe didn’t initially get further than a clay model, the above pictures tweeted by former Jaguar designer Cliff Ruddell give an indication of what an XJ40 coupe could have looked like.

A one-off prototype

It was late 1993 – close to the end of XJ40 production – before the public was finally given an idea of how an XJ40 coupe might have looked.

A one-off two-door prototype, based on the V12, was built by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations department in Coventry. It used a shortened XJ40 platform.

Despite never being a serious proposition (the XJ40 was about to be replaced by the X300), it was a major undertaking. The exhaust was shortened and a new propshaft was fabricated, ensuring the car was a running prototype.

What might have been

The XJ40 coupe (the only one ever made) was eventually registered for road use in 1995 and revealed at the 60 years of Jaguar celebration at the NEC in Birmingham.

As JLR pulls the plug on the proposed all-electric XJ, it’s sobering to look back on another XJ that could have been. The XJ40 coupe is now owned by Jaguar Heritage and part of the Collections Centre in Gaydon.


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Photos by Pim Stouten via Flickr/Creative Commons

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