The XJ40's history goes all the way back to the early '70s. There were clay models as early as 1972 but the car was officially unveiled on October 8 1986. It replaced the Series III XJ models although the latter cars remained in production until 1992 with only the 5.3L V12 engine that was Jaguar's second development. Jaguar started with clean sheet of paper when it came to the replacement of the Series III cars. That meant a new power unit was made. The new engine received the AJ6 code name. AJ stands for Advanced Jaguar. This new engine first debuted in the XJ-S in 1983 in a 3.6L displacement then found it's way to the XJ40 along with the 2.9L single cam engine. In 1990 the 4.0L engine replaced the 3.6L and the 2.9L engine was dropped to make way for the 3.2L in 1991. Two years later the XJ81 code named cars came out with 6.0L engines based on the 5.3L. Before the development of the new AJ6 engine there was a rumor at British Leyland that the new XJ40s might get a Rover V8. Hearing this the engineers were terrified of this thought so they deliberately designed the engine bay too narrow so no engine with V configuration would fit. Their explanation was that they had to put extra collision beams in the bay that would better absorb the impact in case of frontal collision. It was until Ford-that purchased Jaguar in late 1989-spent a lot of money to redesign the engine bay for the V12.
Transmission choices were the automatic ZF 4HP22 for the 2.9L, 3.2L, and 3.6L cars. The 4.0L engines received the ZF 4HP24 4 speed unit. The V12 eqipped cars required the stronger GM 4L80-E gearbox. Manual transmissions were the 5 speed Getrag 265 for the earlier cars and the Getrag 290 for the later cars. Jaguar developed a new gear selector called the J-Gate. It is also called the Randle Handle named after Jim Randle Jaguar's then engineering director. On the right side there are the usual P, R, N, D gears and by pulling the selector to the left the driver can manually select between the 2nd and the 4th gears. Under the selector there's a switch that allows to run the transmission in Normal mode or Sport. If "S" is selected then the transmission holds the gears longer before upshifting to the next. Later cars received a 3 way switch with the 1st gear delete option. It is best used in heavy rain or snow/ice road conditions. Activating it the car takes off in 2nd gear allowing the rear wheels to get better grip.
Jaguar kept the so called three box design with the XJ40. Hood, top, trunk. But these cars have a more angular, boxy appearance influenced by the 80's contemporary fashion trends. It can be seen on the square tail lights and the front lights. The higher specification models like the Sovereign, Daimler (Vanden Plas in the North American market) received the rectangular front headlights. The turn indicators also received a rectangular design and they're incorporated in the black rubber covered front and rear bumpers with chromed top plate that runs full width. The window frames are either chrome or black depending on the model. Rain gutters, door mirrors, door handles are chromed along with the surround of the front and rear windscreens. They simplified the pressing of the body panels, with less pressing they achieved 25 per cent reduction in the number of body work panels, more efficient assembly process, weight saving and stiffer structure. Earlier cars had metric wheels, later they mounted 15 inch alloy wheels and the last model year had 16 inch wheels.
The interior was available in cloth, leather/vinyl and full leather upholstery depending on model. The Daimler/Vanden Plas and the XJ12 cars were covered inside with full leather. They were equipped with fold down picnic tables for the rear passengers, reading lights mounted on the C pillar, manually operated rear window screens, rear bucket seats with opening lid on the armrest. Cars until 1990 had the half digital half analog instrument cluster. Only the speedometer and the rev counter were analog. On the right side there was a 32x32 dot-matrix screen capable of 34 functions. From 1990 on the instrument cluster was redesigned to use analogue gauges. It also included a self diagnostic system called VCM (Vehicle Condition Monitor). Early cars had two spoke steering wheel that later a four spoke replaced. 1993 model year cars received a driver's side airbag and the last model year
lost the glove box due to the second passenger side airbag but gained a cup holder in the center arm rest. Also the last two model year cars have revised door panels, revised a/c control unit in the center console, front fog lights integrated in the body work under the bumper, Alpine AJ9200W radio. All cars came with one windshield wiper.
Other variants included the Sovereign with Self Leveling Suspension (SLS) and more luxury features than the base model.
The Sport model was manufactured in 1993 and 1994 with 3.2L and 4.0L inline six engines only. These cars had body painted door mirrors and radiator grill vanes, five spoke alloy wheels and rosewood interior trim.
The Majestic cars were built for the US market. They built 527 units in 1990 and they're carrying the Vanden Plas Majestic name. There are only 121 stretched Majestic cars that were made in 1993-1994. These cars started as regular wheel base models and were sent to Project Aerospace in Coventry to add 5 inches. The Majestic models were all finished in Regency Red.
The XJR cars started their life in 1988 as high performance models with uprated suspension and Bilstein dampers, increased power steering with revised valve and special exterior and interior colors. Engines included the standard 3.6L and later a TWR tuned 4.0L AJ6. They also received new inlet manifolds, uprated cams and tweaked ECU. The exterior features fiberglass front and rear valances and side skirts, black grill, JaguarSport badge and Speedline alloy wheels. Production lasted 1988-1994 and only a few hundreds of these cars were built making them a rare find.
The Insignia models came out in 1992. It was a bespoke service by Jaguar for the XJ40 and XJ81 where the customers could choose any special paint, trim, wood and wheels in any combination at an additional cost. Only 318 Insignias were produced.
Gold models were introduced in 1994 for a lower price tag. Fewer exterior colors were available than for other models. The radiator grille and trunk has gold plated badge and Kiwi style wheels were mounted.
Wheelbase: 113" (2900 mm)
118" (3000 mm, Majestic)
Length: 196.4" (4990 mm)
201.4" (5120 mm, Majestic)
Width: 70.9" (1800 mm)
Height: 54.25" (1378 mm)
Curb Weight: 3792 lb (1720 kg)-3902 lb (1770 kg)
Total production number: 208,706