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

From the August 1986 subject of Automotive and Driver.

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

A method 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 brief 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 lightweight within the XJ-SC and folks grin, whoop, and holler, “Hey, that is a good looking automotive!” 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. Un­fortuitously, 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 to be like prefer it’s beneath development.”) The employees consensus is that the XJ-SC appears to be like greatest with its toupee in place, but none of us feels actually repelled by its aesthetics when every thing is stripped all the way down to let the skin in. And it does are available.

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 fantastic thing about this hanging system as dearly as others see it. Grand touring means various things to totally different individuals, however it at all times means one thing great. In an XJ-SC, the pleasures of touring grandly are clean and satisfying. Jaguar at all times 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 affords not solely open-air motoring however a really totally different accent on sporting transportation.

Beneath, the same old Jaguar charms and downsides abide. The XJ-SC’s lengthy, suggestive hoodline homes an enormous V-12 engine whose horsepower proves a swimsuit­in a position match for the motor’s broad-shoul­dered look. Simply as essential, although it’s blessed with the bloodlines of its forebears, in the present day’s XJ could also be exhibiting new indicators of civility and respectability. Ac­cording to the manufacturing unit, 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 jot down dwelling about—we’re coping with two tons of excessive efficiency right here—however the Michael Might 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 combined use returned 14 mpg.

Fortunately for Jaguar’s fame as a professional­ducer of street burners, Michael Might’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 premise of Jaguar’s mid-engined IMSA GTP Batmobile, and each time you step into the throttle laborious sufficient to power an auto­matic kickdown, you might be reminded why the V-12 represented the last word roadgoing engine for therefore a few years.

When manufacturing of the outdated ragtop ceased, nonetheless, among the surprise went out of Jaguars. We want not have apprehensive, 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 individuals laboring beneath such murk would by no means fall in love with convertibles, however after all 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, Individuals have grown happier to have Jag at hand. As is commonly stated, 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 automobiles 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 automobiles, and the XJ-S coupe has damaged gross sales data right here for 3 years working.

Mechanically, the Cabriolet is an identical to the XJ-S coupe. Structurally, nonetheless, 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. Supposed primarily to offset the torsional stiff­ness misplaced when the total 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 assist 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 reveals just a few shakes and shudders not present in, say, the stubby Porsche 911 Cab­riolet, although the Jag is definitely removed from the shakiest pop-top round.

1986 jaguar xjsc cabriolet

Aaron Kiley|Automotive and Driver

We solely want it had been as simple to open up because the others. In our take a look at automotive, the knob supposed to launch the framed rear roof sec­tion virtually 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 undergo little, if in any respect. The seat’s lum­bar padding has been improved, and the refined shaping of their bolsters delivers higher assist than their flatness suggests. Scrumptious-smelling leather-based upholstery, al­although usually a slippery hindrance to remain­ing behind the wheel, on this case has suffi­cient texture to help the bolsters in conserving you in place. The steering wheel can be coated in fairly grippy leather-based, however the rim is simply too skinny to offer a genuinely safe grip.

Driver confidence additionally suffers due to the distraction created by the XJ’s scat­tered management format. The principle 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 cut up by the radio. Worse, our SC’s air flow fan give up, the oil-pressure gauge threw matches of erratic readings and the roof panels sprang a leak after we take a look at­ed the climate sealing by working the automotive by means of an computerized wash—not good omens for Jaguar’s just lately improved rep­utation. (Jaguar responds that our take a look at automotive 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, various niceties stand out, too. A helpful journey pc offers pertinent poop on time, distance, common pace, and gasoline use. And beneath the pc sits the top unit of an Alpine sound system, whose candy musicality, to our ears, ranks excessive amongst in the present day’s factory-supplied au­dio methods. It’s stated that the British do not like music, however they just like the noise it makes. You may have fooled us: this technique easi­ly and easily delivers music, not noise. The radio’s format is sweet, the AM efficiency is best than most, and the FM sec­tion sounds nice. The cassette participant’s efficiency, with tape recorded on a superb deck from data 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 by means of with out pressure even at excessive speeds.

1986 jaguar xjsc cabriolet

Aaron Kiley|Automotive 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. Transferring off is not sluggish, however as our 8.4-second 0-to-60 time suggests, the beast does not bust free till the graceful, long-legged computerized lastly lets the revs stand up t0 enterprise.

The massive four-wheel discs, ventilated in entrance, change into sturdy 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 beneath 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 automotive’s conduct in the actual world is satisfying sufficient to enchantment to the patrons Jaguar has in thoughts. The shift lever appears to be like 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 follow in offering gentle, benign rack­-and-pinion energy steering, plus tire grip that feels extra sporting than that of the standard American luxurious sportster­—although not as sporting because the nice chew and agency bump-buffering supplied by Germa­ny’s hard-running machines. Alternatively, the Jaguar offers ranges of journey consolation that German engineers categorical 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 automotive’s haunches to spew you onto the next straights in nice, lubricious spendings of vitality. If in case you have the persistence to pay attention for the distant thunder, Jaguar rumbles the language of energy, and you may hear it in your bones.

What your gleeful senses whole up could 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 sturdy sufficient to pop the highest, that’s.

1986 jaguar xjsc cabriolet

Aaron Kiley|Automotive and Driver

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


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 nice 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—however it’s approach too free­-jointed for a spirited two-seater. Once 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 superb 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 automotive suffered from a balky folding prime, a local weather management that went belly-up, and a foul case of the stalls.

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

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

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

In compensation, nonetheless, the XJ­-SC affords a clean and robust engine, easy cruising at any pace, and a journey that’s virtually unsurpassed in sup­pleness. Add to those virtues the automotive’s good-looking form, and this Jaguar be­comes an inviting different for some­one who can afford to take pleasure in its distinctive mix of individuality. —Arthur St. Antoine

In case your thought of automotive luxurious is cen­tered on a profligate use of the world’s assets, the Jaguar XJ-SC is the automotive for you. A mid-sixties, full-size Ameri­can sedan is a mannequin of effectivity com­pared with the Coventry cat. I am unable to consider one other two-seater with such a big and large physique. Neither can I recall a automotive that extracts so little perfor­mance from such a big and lavishly conceived powerplant.

To make certain, the XJ-SC goes about its enterprise quietly and easily, main one to conclude that passenger com­fort was the purpose of its extravagant de­signal. Nonetheless, 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 automotive, 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 Kind: 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

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec

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

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.73 g 


Noticed: 14 mpg

Metropolis/Freeway: 13/17 mpg 


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