1986 Jaguar XJ-SC Cabriolet: Golden-Yr Grand Touring

From the August 1986 difficulty of Automobile and Driver.

Eleven years have handed since Jaguar’s final E-type two-seater ragtops have been im­ported into this nation. England’s well-known maker of luxurious sports activities vehicles and sump­tuous sedans has since made do with metal roofs, and the grand-touring world has been the poorer.

A technique or one other, ragtop Jags by no means shorted you on emotion. Even within the midst of mechanical and electrical travails, they left you eager for quick nights and sunny days. Now comes the XJ-SC Cabriolet, a worthy addition to the lengthy if sporadic line of open-air cats from Coventry.

Cease at a light-weight within the XJ-SC and other people grin, whoop, and holler, “Hey, that is a lovely automobile!” When the roof is up, we agree. Surprisingly, although, onlookers of­ten blurt compliments even when the highest’s panels and flaps are stowed away. Swivel two levers and the 2 canvas-covered, pop-off roof panels will unlatch and slip out, to be neatly pouched within the deep trunk. To decrease the rear part of the roof, unlatch its spherical lock from the in­facet, peel the Velcro-fastened edges of the material away from its framework, and fold the material and the plastic window down, snapping them beneath a comfortable boot. Un­luckily, you are actually left with an array of roof hoops rising starkly bare above the swoop of the decrease physique. (Pausing to alter lenses, Aaron Kiley gazed on the framework and mused, “It appears prefer it’s below development.”) The workers consensus is that the XJ-SC appears greatest with its toupee in place, but none of us feels really repelled by its aesthetics when the whole lot is stripped right down to let the surface in. And it does are available in.

Head for the nation for grand touring after on a regular basis life has tethered you for some time and you may really feel the great thing about this hanging gadget as dearly as others see it. Grand touring means various things to completely different folks, nevertheless it all the time means one thing great. In an XJ-SC, the pleasures of touring grandly are clean and satisfying. Jaguar all the time skips the sharp aggression of such conventional rivals because the six-cylinder BMW coupe and the V-8 coupes from Mercedes and Porsche, to not point out the rowdy soft- and laborious­-topped Corvettes. The XJ-SC gives not solely open-air motoring however a really completely different accent on sporting transportation.

Beneath, the standard Jaguar charms and downsides abide. The XJ-SC’s lengthy, suggestive hoodline homes an enormous V-12 engine whose horsepower proves a swimsuit­ready match for the motor’s broad-shoul­dered look. Simply as essential, although it’s blessed with the bloodlines of its forebears, immediately’s XJ could also be exhibiting new indicators of civility and respectability. Ac­cording to the manufacturing facility, high quality management is vastly improved and nice strides have been made in reliability. Upkeep re­quirements are decrease than ever. The XJ’s gasoline financial system has by no means been a lot to put in writing residence about—we’re coping with two tons of excessive efficiency right here—however the Michael Could lean-burn combustion cham­bers, launched in 1982, do assist advance the reason for effectivity. EPA metropolis financial system holds the fort at 13 mpg, and our personal blended use returned 14 mpg.

Fortunately for Jaguar’s popularity as a professional­ducer of highway burners, Michael Could’s sculpturing of the V-12’s heads returns far more than improved gasoline financial system. With a whopping 11.5:1 compression ratio burning beneath its single-overhead-cam coronary heart, the 5.3-liter whirs out an ef­fortless 262 horsepower. Working on super-unleaded gasoline, the engine adroitly belies the mass of equipment inside, by no means whimpering on the best way to its spectacular 6500-rpm redline. This V-12 stays the idea of Jaguar’s mid-engined IMSA GTP Batmobile, and each time you step into the throttle laborious sufficient to power an auto­matic kickdown, you’re reminded why the V-12 represented the last word roadgoing engine for therefore a few years.

When manufacturing of the outdated ragtop ceased, nevertheless, a number of the marvel went out of Jaguars. We want not have nervous, it seems so long as there may be an England, there shall be ragtops on the horizon. Ragtops are Nice Britain’s nose-thumb­ing gesture on the sodden skies that usually sulk there. Logical folks laboring below such murk would by no means fall in love with convertibles, however in fact logic and the British are sometimes at odds. Mainly, Brits are tickled pink anytime their beloved ragtops are shut at hand.

Over the previous few years, People have grown happier to have Jag at hand. As is usually mentioned, a lot of the credit score goes to John Egan, Jaguar’s chairman and chief execu­tive officer, who signed on in 1980 and led the corporate’s resurgence. Gross sales in Ameri­ca alone soared from 3029 vehicles in 1980 to 18,000 in 1984. Publicly owned for the previous two years, Jaguar enjoys continued sales-and-service success within the States. We snapped up greater than half the 1985 professional­duction run of 38,000 vehicles, and the XJ-S coupe has damaged gross sales information right here for 3 years operating.

Mechanically, the Cabriolet is similar to the XJ-S coupe. Structurally, nevertheless, the convertible has been injected with new beef. The roof’s framework homes two sub­stantial metal rods that make a minor con­tribution to stiffness, however the main beefing comes from a boxed part that takes the place of the coupe’s rear seats. Meant primarily to offset the torsional stiff­ness misplaced when the complete roof was eradicated, the field wears good-looking carpeting and homes two lockable storage bins. Trimmed with baggage slats and a restraint bar, the field lands able to help any touring circumstances, haversacks, miniature steamer trunks, or different journey­ing caboodle carried within the cabin, however defi­nitely not any plus-two passengers. By way of their structural contribution, the reinforcements do not fairly make up for the skylights within the roof. The prolonged Jag­uar displays a couple of shakes and shudders not present in, say, the stubby Porsche 911 Cab­riolet, although the Jag is actually removed from the shakiest pop-top round.

1986 jaguar xjsc cabriolet

Aaron Kiley|Automobile and Driver

We solely want it have been as simple to open up because the others. In our take a look at automobile, the knob supposed to launch the framed rear roof sec­tion nearly did not: it proved almost impos­sible to show. And the trim, tight boot stubbornly resisted the snapping-down operation.

Inside, the brand new roofline nips off a little bit of the coupe’s headroom, however consolation appears to endure little, if in any respect. The seat’s lum­bar padding has been improved, and the delicate shaping of their bolsters delivers higher help than their flatness suggests. Scrumptious-smelling leather-based upholstery, al­although typically a slippery hindrance to remain­ing behind the wheel, on this case has suffi­cient texture to help the bolsters in maintaining you in place. The steering wheel can be coated in moderately grippy leather-based, however the rim is just too skinny to offer a genuinely safe grip.

Driver confidence additionally suffers due to the distraction created by the XJ’s scat­tered management structure. The primary on/off/resume cruise-control button sits obtusely on the console simply behind the shifter, whereas the “set” button is tucked within the lip of the turn-signal lever, far to the left. In one other lapse of logic, the local weather system’s controls are break up by the radio. Worse, our SC’s air flow fan give up, the oil-pressure gauge threw suits of erratic readings and the roof panels sprang a leak after we take a look at­ed the climate sealing by operating the automobile via an computerized wash—not good omens for Jaguar’s lately improved rep­utation. (Jaguar responds that our take a look at automobile was constructed as a pilot mannequin—although the Cabriolet has been on the U.Okay. marketplace for two years—and that the highest panel ought to match higher in U.S. manufacturing fashions.)

Having grumbled our gripes, quite a few niceties stand out, too. A useful journey pc offers pertinent poop on time, distance, common velocity, and gasoline use. And beneath the pc sits the pinnacle unit of an Alpine sound system, whose candy musicality, to our ears, ranks excessive amongst immediately’s factory-supplied au­dio methods. It’s mentioned that the British don’t love music, however they just like the noise it makes. You possibly can have fooled us: this method easi­ly and easily delivers music, not noise. The radio’s structure is sweet, the AM efficiency is healthier than most, and the FM sec­tion sounds high quality. The cassette participant’s efficiency, with tape recorded on a great deck from information or compact discs, abso­lutely caresses the ears. Given the XJ-SC’s lowish wind noise (for a convertible), Jag­uar ought to add a CD participant, as a result of plen­ty of musical element comes via with out pressure even at excessive speeds.

1986 jaguar xjsc cabriolet

Aaron Kiley|Automobile and Driver

We’re speaking 135-mph potential. T00 dangerous the three-speed computerized and the tall gearing take the sting out of the V-12 off the road. On this worth class, a four- or five-speed gearbox must be aboard to liven issues up. Shifting off is not gradual, however as our 8.4-second 0-to-60 time suggests, the beast would not bust unfastened till the sleek, long-legged computerized lastly lets the revs stand up t0 enterprise.

The large four-wheel discs, ventilated in entrance, turn into robust factors, easily snubbing this 4016-pound pil­grim’s progress with out fade, although stops from 70 mph require a longish 213 toes. Squeezing down into tight corners from excessive speeds below laborious braking creates no fuss no matter. As you feather of the pedal, unloading the nostril, the steering takes up the transition as calmly as heat milk places you to sleep.

Within the harsh gentle of skidpad testing, the XJ’s all-independent, coil-sprung suspen­sion and relatively slim wheels and tire restrict roadholding to 0.73 g. However the automobile’s conduct in the actual world is satisfying sufficient to attraction to the patrons Jaguar has in thoughts. The shift lever appears delicate and feels clunky, and the throttle stiffly resists forays into downshift territory, however some­how the lasting impression is that of a basi­cally blissful drivetrain. Some testers, how­ever, really feel it’s too blissful and yearn for a extra emhusiastic response from inside.

The XJ-SC’s dealing with follows British observe in offering gentle, benign rack­-and-pinion energy steering, plus tire grip that feels extra sporting than that of the everyday American luxurious sportster­—although not as sporting because the high quality chew and agency bump-buffering supplied by Germa­ny’s hard-running machines. Alternatively, the Jaguar offers ranges of journey consolation that German engineers specific little curiosity in supplying, and a level of suspension management that’s uncommon in Ameri­can-made equipment. Launched by the throttle to do your bidding, the Jag hurls at your senses an orderly world, all veddy British, the V-12’s thunder insistent however distant, pleasantly muted at the same time as you scis­sor throughout sweeping corners in a rush. The sensational engine gathers the automobile’s haunches to spew you onto the next straights in nice, lubricious spendings of power. You probably have the endurance to hear for the distant thunder, Jaguar rumbles the language of energy, and you’ll hear it in your bones.

What your gleeful senses whole up might equal the proper reply for the high-­greenback grand-touring market. The XJ-SC Cabriolet is simply fundamental sufficient to offer deep thrills, however greater than adequately subtle to cuddle with. Its behavioral envelope will most likely swimsuit lots of these involved with discovering correct conveyances for his or her golden years of grand touring. So long as their fingers are nonetheless robust sufficient to pop the highest, that’s.

1986 jaguar xjsc cabriolet

Aaron Kiley|Automobile and Driver

As a midway step towards true open-air motoring, the XJ-SC Cabriolet proves two issues: First, main quantities of sunshine may be admitted to the inside of the XJ with out sacrificing any of the automobile’s fundamental goodness. And second, though the XJ­-SC is a noble and thoroughly engineered al­ternative to a steel-roofed coupe, it is no substitute in any respect for a real convertible.

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I am afraid there’s nothing however disap­pointment within the new XJ-SC for a thrill seeker like myself. Other than Jaguar’s unconventional technique of letting the good open air in, time has stood nonetheless for this lowrider.

I’ve lengthy hoped that Jaguar would agency the XJ-S up into an actual sports activities ma­chine, however, alas, that was to not be. The XJ-SC nonetheless makes use of the pillowy suspension settings that make the XJ6 such a pleasure­ous rider—nevertheless it’s approach too unfastened­-jointed for a spirited two-seater. After I name on a tough nook, the physique makes like a yo-yo. No change right here.

Then there’s the mighty V-12, which feels all bottled up on the low finish. It is wanted a great four-speed computerized to set it free for ages.

It has been reported that Jaguar has im­proved its high quality management. Unlucky­ly, our take a look at automobile suffered from a balky folding prime, a local weather management that went belly-up, and a nasty case of the stalls.

After I slide right into a low-slung, broad-­shouldered V-12 sports activities automobile, I anticipate a kick within the pants. The XJ-SC could also be high quality for rich folks twenty years my senior, nevertheless it’s far an excessive amount of of a delicate­man for me. —Wealthy Ceppos

It is laborious to rationalize a automobile just like the Jag­uar XJ-SC. For much much less cash, there are any variety of vehicles that carry out in addition to or higher than this machine. Few, nevertheless, can match the Jag’s individ­uality and panache.

In a time of look-alike automobile designs, the XJ-SC is a welcome break from the norm. It’s leaner and swoopier than its photographs counsel; at instances its look is al­most unique. In fact, as with nearly any unique automobile, one pays a worth for beauty and distinction. The Jag’s seats are restricted of their vary of adjustment and supply little help, lots of its er­gonomic options depart a lot to be de­sired, and our take a look at automobile suffered a num­ber of nagging failures.

In compensation, nevertheless, the XJ­-SC gives a clean and robust engine, easy cruising at any velocity, and a journey that’s nearly unsurpassed in sup­pleness. Add to those virtues the automobile’s good-looking form, and this Jaguar be­comes an inviting different for some­one who can afford to bask in its distinctive mix of individuality. —Arthur St. Antoine

In case your concept of automotive luxurious is cen­tered on a profligate use of the world’s sources, the Jaguar XJ-SC is the automobile for you. A mid-sixties, full-size Ameri­can sedan is a mannequin of effectivity com­pared with the Coventry cat. I can not consider one other two-seater with such a big and big physique. Neither can I recall a automobile that extracts so little perfor­mance from such a big and lavishly conceived powerplant.

To make sure, the XJ-SC goes about its enterprise quietly and easily, main one to conclude that passenger com­fort was the purpose of its extravagant de­signal. Nevertheless, the absence of such creature comforts as power-adjustable seats and a power-operated roof belies that conclusion. That leaves sheer con­spicuous consumption as the primary thrust of this automobile, and that is simply too anachronistic an idea, even for a lux­ury cruiser, in 1986. —Csaba Csere

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1986 Jaguar XJ-SC Cabriolet
Automobile Sort: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible


Base/As Examined: $43,500/$43,500

SOHC V-12, aluminum block and heads, digital gasoline injection

Displacement: 326 in3, 5344 cm3

Energy: 262 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 290 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm 

3-speed computerized


Suspension, F/R: management arms/trailing arms

Brakes, F/R: 11.1-in vented disc/10.3-in disc

Tires: Pirelli P5


Wheelbase: 102.0 in

Size: 191.7 in

Width: 70.6 in
Peak: 47.8 in

Passenger Quantity: 51 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 16 ft3
Curb Weight: 4016 lb


60 mph: 8.4 sec

100 mph: 22.0 sec

1/4-Mile: 16.3 sec @ 88 mph
120 mph: 39.8 sec

High Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec

High Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec

High Pace: 135 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 213 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.73 g 


Noticed: 14 mpg

Metropolis/Freeway: 13/17 mpg