A notable Jaguar XJ-S V12 Cabriolet with royal connections will be one of a record number of stunning retro cars from the halcyon heydays of motoring appearing at this weekend’s London Classic Car Show at Excel London (15-18 February).
While many of the 700+ wonderful automotive icons on display will have their own incredible histories, few if any will have better stories to tell than this totally one-off 150mph Jaguar – a sportscar which was fashioned especially for Diana, Princess of Wales.
The model first being released in 1983, this famous 1987 XJ-SC was not only one of the most photographed cars of its era but was also totally unique, built to the Princess’ own bespoke specification.
The V12 powered regal cabriolet features 2 rear seats and an individually made, permanently fixed, rear hard top to ensure that the two Princes could not strike their heads on the solid targa roof bar in the event of an accident.
Also, unlike any other XJS, the once royal roadster is fitted with personalised leather and Harris Tweed seat trims, chosen by Princess Diana. What’s more the exterior bodywork came with the US spec quad highlights and was finished in British Racing Green to match the Aston Martin that husband Prince Charles had acquired around the same time.
The Princess was regularly seen driving this majestic model from 1987 to 1991. Her and Sarah, the Duchess of York who also owned an XJS V12, except a convertible model would often enjoy driving their Jaguars together. Sarah’s car was later restored by KWE in 2007. Then, when the two Princes outgrew their small rear seats, Diana sold it to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, an educational charity established to preserve the legacy of Jaguar for the nation, in exchange for a contribution to one of her own charitable causes.
First came the coupe (1975), then the cabriolet (1983), and finally the convertible (1988). The XJS was not ready to have the top removed entirely, since omitting the roof would tend to make the XJ6-based monocoque sag in the middle. A great deal of engineering work and a lot of time was needed to produce an open car, even one with some of the roof in place. The compromise arrangement recalled the roof bracing of the late Triumph stag. The framework was kept in place but there were removable close-fitting panels, resulting in a pleasantly proportioned car from which Malcolm Sayer’s well-intentioned, but controversial “flying buttresses” were eliminated.
More significantly the XJ-S was available for the first time with a 6-cylinder engine, the AJ6 being tried out first in a low production volume model where its weaknesses would be exposed, but not to too many customers. It was a sensible move which breathed a new life into the model. The delightfully smooth and perfectly adequate 3.6 was offered on the cabriolet with the option of a 5 speed Getrag manual gearbox. Although, the 12-cylinder XJS was still a popular choice.
In 1985, Jaguar released the 5.3 V12 Cabriolet. This model had the option of rear seats, whereas the earlier model had a storage box, much like the early convertibles which were released later in 1988.
Sales of the XJ-S were on the turn. Improved reliability was the principal reason for an increase to 4,808 cars in 1983 and 6,028 in 1984. In 1985 sales received a boost with the V12 Cabriolet for which the production process was streamlined, and the HE badge was dropped in favour of a “V12”. When Jaguar released the fully convertible electric soft top, the cabriolet was discontinued after a production run of 5,013 cars.
Here we have our most recent restoration, a fully restored XJ-SC finished in Solent blue with luxurious magnolia leather and burr walnut trim. Click here to view the full write up and images in our showcase.
If you would like your own XJS built to your bespoke specification, please contact us to discuss our restoration services.
We also currently have a very original 4-seater 1988 XJ-SC Cabriolet with 25000-miles for sale, click here to see the full listing and images.