History : Jaguar in the 1990s – Part Four

Ian Nicholls, AROnline’s historian, turns his attention to Jaguar – and looks at its fall and rise in the 1990s, an era when the German manufacturers were beginning to take over the world.

Here, in Part Four, he recalls the introduction of the X300-generation XJ6, and how it previewed the next generation of saloons to emerge from the company.

A New Jaguar


During September 1994, production of the X300 saloon began at Browns Lane and it was publicly announced on 28 September 1994. The Ford influence was already clear in the new X300, even though all assembly was done at Browns Lane. Body panels were stamped at Ford’s Halewood factory on Merseyside, and the two companies were increasingly co-operating on components.

‘We don’t want to start pulling bits out of Ford’s parts bin. But we are increasingly using its technology and suppliers,’
 an Engineer said. Engineering and manufacturing operations now had a single Director, Jim Padilla, who the Jaguar Engineers said was the real ‘father’ of the new X300 XJ6.

Chairman Nick Scheele said of the new XJ: ‘We’ve got to return Jaguar to the black on the back of this car.’

The new X300 was, in terms of build quality, the best Jaguar yet. It also featured a revised six-cylinder engine, known as the AJ16, putting right many of the flaws in the original AJ6 unit. The AJ16 had made its debut in the Jaguar XJS in May. The AJ16 was an excellent engine, but it was only a stopgap until the AJ26 V8 arrived.

Retro becomes Jaguar’s hallmark

Daimler Double Six introduced an updated 6.0-litre V12 to the range

Visually, the X300 harked back to the Series 3 XJ and dispensed with the modernism of the Jaguar XJ40. Perhaps, in hindsight, this was the start of Ford/Jaguar’s obsession with the retro look, but the X300 was certainly a beautiful car and a triumph for Jaguar’s Head of Design, Geoff Lawson. Closer examination revealed the new car had tighter panel gaps – the days of lead loading on the production line were now gone.

The X300 was a phased re-invention of the XJ40, for it still retained the previous car’s underpinnings and the interior was broadly similar. As related in Part One, Jaguar could not afford to put the totally new XJ90 into production, so the XJ40 was adapted to receive XJ90 styling cues.

As well as the new AJ16 engine available in 3.2- and 4.0-litre versions, there was a 6.0-litre XJ12/Daimler Double Six and a sporty, supercharged 4.0-litre AJ16 version called the XJR. The new supercharged XJR exposed the venerable V12 as being past its sell-by date. The blown AJ16 was more powerful, more economical and less prone to emissions legislation than the two valves per cylinder V12.

There was also criticism that the 6.0-litre version of the V12 (above) was less refined than the earlier 5.3-litre version. Although Jaguar had intended to continue with the V12 engine – it was even suggested for the X100 sports car at one stage – the success of the XJR, which had been added to the range at the behest of Nick Scheele, gave Jaguar the idea that the V12 was now superfluous.

With the forthcoming AJ26 V8 engine intended to be more refined than the AJ16, and perhaps matching the 6.0-litre V12, a supercharged version would enable Jaguar to dispense with the V12 altogether.

Quality starts to improve

Traditional problems areas like Jaguar’s electronics now received special attention, including more sophisticated testing.
 As a result, Jaguar’s standing in the customer satisfaction survey conducted in the United States by JD Power & Associates, the consulting firm, had risen sharply during the previous few years.
Jaguar now ranked 10th in the JD Power study, which measured consumers’ satisfaction with product quality and dealer service after one year of ownership, up from 25th a few years earlier.

With a score of 143 in the 1994 survey, compared with an industry average of 135, Jaguar still lagged well behind Lexus, which had a score of 176, but ahead of Mercedes-Benz, at 141, and BMW at 138. With the X300 launched, Jaguar could then, at long last, start work on the smaller X200, which Ford had first mooted when they took over Jaguar in 1990.

‘You could build a Jaguar in many places around the world… the world does not owe us a living.’
Nick Scheele

In December Chairman Nick Scheele told the New York Times: 
’We’ve come an awful long way. We’re not on track until we’re showing black numbers at the end of a full year. But clearly the path is looking easier now than it was two years ago.’

On the possibility that Ford might build Jaguars abroad Nick Scheele said: ‘You could build a Jaguar in many places around the world. All of us recognise reality. The world does not owe us a living and Ford does not owe us investment.’

On 1 February 1995 Jaguar was pleased to announce its first profit since 1990. Jaguar, which had run up losses of more than £800m since Ford’s purchase in 1989, made operating profits in the final quarter of £26m.

Jaguar said the improvement in the final quarter was due to continuing cost-cutting and better sales of its X300 XJ6/12 range, which accounted for 85 per cent of the company’s sales.
 Jaguar’s break-even point had been cut from 45,000 to 31,000 vehicles. ‘We had a very encouraging end to the year,’ a spokesman said.

First steps to the S-Type

Jaguar could now reveal that the Jaguar X200 project, a rival for the BMW 5 Series, would be based on a Ford platform and would use a Ford engine block. Though the styling, suspension, cabin and internal engine components would be bespoke Jaguar, many hidden parts, particularly electrical components, were certain to be pure Ford.

‘That will make for a cheaper and a more reliable car. I just don’t see the problem in using Ford components, as long as they’re of sufficient quality and are hidden from view. It’s the tangibles – the styling, the cabin, the ride and the performance – that must be pure Jaguar,’ said Chairman Nick Scheele.

David Hudson, Jaguar’s Plant Director said: 
’We drove in systems and procedures that had been proven throughout the world by the Ford Motor Company. Since the acquisition, in terms of manufacturing, we’ve been through a revolution.’ 
The number of employee hours needed to produce one car had been slashed in half in the previous five years, to about 100.

During January 1995 the Jaguar Design Centre at Whitley began sketches for the X200 project that would become S-Type announced in October 1998. The man Jaguar chose as X200 Chief Programme Engineer was Nick Barter. Then, on 10 May 1995, five full-size X200 clay models were shown at the Whitley Design Centre.

They were:

  • Model D a sports coupe theme with a fast roofline and XK-style nose.
  • Model E a neo-classical and very evolutionary shrinking of the XJ theme.
  • Model F a modern Mk2 proposal.
  • Model H also a modern take on the Mk2, with a front similar to that of the Aston Martin Vignale.
  • Model G was described as an orphan outsider whatever that meant.

Models D and E were soon eliminated and Model H became the front-runner. Eventually it was decided to combine Model H with Model F’s face and that became the basis for the 1998 S-Type.

It was in the styling of the new X200 that the Ford-owned Jaguar made its first serious mistake. Ford believed they had bought Jaguar as much for its heritage as well as its cars and wanted the Design Department at Whitley to hang on to this heritage with a recipe book of styling cues that were unmistakably Jaguar, which would then be included on subsequent designs – in other words, retro design was the way forward, with Jaguar’s becoming caricatures of the Lyons-era designs.

Jaguar’s British expansion

In July 1995, Jaguar confirmed that it was to invest £500m in a plan to create a production plant on the former Spitfire aircraft factory in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham.
 The site, along with the adjoining former tyre factory, Fort Dunlop, had been bought by the Government as part of an £80m aid package towards Jaguar’s costs.
 Ford, Jaguar’s parent, had threatened to build the new X200 at one of its American plants unless it received the aid.

News of the land purchase, made by the Government agency, English Partnerships, which would lease the site to Jaguar, cleared up confusion about where the new car would be built in the UK.
The Spitfire buildings would be used to expand Jaguar’s existing car-body plant next to the derelict site, at Castle Bromwich.

Bibiana Boerio

On 31 July 1995 Jaguar announced it had appointed Bibiana Boerio (right), 41, as Finance Director to replace John Edwards, who was taking over the same position at Northern Electric. Ms Boerio was at the time Controller of Product Strategy at Ford. John Edwards had been one of Sir John Egan’s team and had joined Jaguar from Massey Ferguson. He is not to be confused with another John Edwards, who was a member of the Phoenix Four involved with MG Rover.

Then on 14 August Ford gave the final green light for the X200 project, the same day that Whitley began assembling the first of 28 X200 Workhorse Build cars.

Later in the month The Independent newspaper interviewed the new Jaguar Finance Director, Bibiana Boerio. 
’Jaguar is starting to work. There’s a lot to do, but it’s really coming around,’ she explained.

It had often been said that Ford had overpaid for Jaguar, and regretted the takeover once the depth of the problems were revealed, but Bibiana Boerio was having none of it. 
’I never heard anyone at Ford say the purchase was a mistake. We always knew that buying Jaguar was a long-term decision,’ she said.

‘My aim is to find the right balance. The objective is to improve shareholder value,’ she said.
Bibiana Boerio did not apply for the job, it was offered to her, and – so far as anyone at Jaguar knew – no other internal or external candidates were considered. She admitted that she had little knowledge of the Jaguar operation before her appointment, and that not previously having had any direct experience of manufacturing and assembly was a handicap.

‘If you understand the processes of an organisation, the specifics will come. I will still go up a learning curve as far as the specifics are concerned. But I already know the processes,’ she said.

The old guard starts to move on

At the end of January 1996, David Boole, Jaguar Cars’ Director of Communications and Public Affairs died at the early age of 48. David Boole had been Director of Communications and Public Affairs since 1982. David Boole had started his public relations career in 1970 with the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC), after graduating from the University of London.

His mentor was Keith Hopkins, British Leyland’s brilliant PR supremo and, in effect, Lord Stokes’s spin doctor. Some have argued that during the 1980s, David Boole did the same for John Egan’s public profile. He was replaced by Joe Greenwell.

Despite all the improvement in Jaguar quality and reliability, the company was still not selling enough cars. In February 1996 Jaguar had to shut its car production line for a week because of slumping demand. Jaguar laid off 2200 of its production staff of 3500 in its Birmingham and Coventry plants.

Jaguar XK8 launched


On 5 March 1996 the new XK8 sports car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. The X100 was the replacement for the venerable XJS and was the first Jaguar to use the new AJ26 V8 engine. The car clearly aped the styling of the Jaguar E-type, but it was an effective blend of retro and modern. During March 1996 the European Union agreed that the British Government could give Jaguar an £80m grant, which would allow it to start building its new X200 small saloon in the West Midlands in 1998.

On 4 April the last XJS came off the production line after a run of 21 years and 115,413 examples. Unlike the much vaunted E-Type, Jaguar had no trouble in selling the last examples. The XJ-S or XJS had done its job. However, in retrospect, perhaps the best XJS was never offered by Jaguar – had the XJS been offered with the supercharged 326 bhp AJ16 engine found in the XJR, complete with manual gearbox option, Jaguar would have had a sensational car.

The demise of the XJS severed the last link with the William Lyons-era Jaguar. Although the XK8 had been announced, production at Browns Lane did not begin until 4 June at Browns Lane and it did not go on sale until October. Then, in November, Jaguar announced two senior engineering appointments: Nick Barter would replace Clive Ennos as Director of Product Development, and David Szczupak would, in turn, succeed Nick Barter as Chief Programme Engineer on the X200 programme. David Szczupak was the man credited with leading the design of the new AJ26 V8 engine.

On 17 February 1997 the last Jaguar V12 engine was produced at Radford after 26 years and 161,996 units. In 2000 the old Daimler factory was flattened to make way for housing. Two months later the last XJ12 of all emerged from Browns Lane after a run of 25 years.

Planning for next generation begins


In the summer the Design Department at Whitley began preliminary sketches on what would become the X400 X-Type (above) and the X350 XJ saloon. On 19 August 1997, Nick Scheele, Jaguar’s Chairman, confirmed that initial feasibility studies for a third Jaguar model range had proved positive and a more in-depth study into the business case for the car, codenamed X400, would be completed in three months.
Jaguar believed it could sell 100,000 of the cars, doubling its then current production plans, which would compete with the successful BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

It would also provide thousands more jobs, on top of the company’s 6300 strong workforce.
While Nick Scheele put the chances of pressing ahead with the X400 at ‘no more than 50-50′, he said he hoped it could be built in Britain.
’I’d like to think we can find somewhere in the UK that’s economically possible. We’re looking at our two sites in the West Midlands by doing something innovative there, because we just don’t have the capacity there. We could then move on to look at alternatives, including a location elsewhere in the UK.’

‘No more than 50-50.’ – Nick Scheele on the prospects of launching the X-Type

The biggest barrier to producing the car at Jaguar’s existing plants was capacity at its Castle Bromwich paint facility, which was already being expanded for the arrival of the new X200 medium-sized saloon range. Jaguar hoped to assemble the new small car in its Browns Lane production plant, but said it might need a 100-acre greenfield site, adding substantially to the cost.

Nick Scheele continued: ‘There’s just no way we can find a site like that nearby.’
 Coventry Council, which had already been in discussions with Jaguar about the project, said it believed it could come up with a location. Chris Beck, from the authority’s development directorate, said: ‘We would try to meet their needs by offering a range of sites in Coventry or the surrounding area.’
Nick Scheele insisted the UK’s chances of building the car did not depend on the level of Government aid. ‘It’s true to say most investments which create that number of jobs are liable to state aid.’

Only the day after Nick Scheele had talked publicly about a new small Jaguar saloon, a full scale clay model of an X400 was viewed at Whitley. Principal Designer Wayne Burgess had started the ball rolling in the summer of 1997 resulting in four design proposals, though the concept of a smaller XJ appears to have been set in stone. The clay model viewed on 20 August featured two different nose treatments, with one side having an E-type oval front design.

Just to emphasise how much in vogue retro styling was at the time, Rover unveiled their design for a new Mini at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 9 September. Two days later Jaguar revealed the new X308 XJ8 saloon.

The X308 launches – who needs a V12?

The new XJ8 had the AJ26 V8 engine in 3.2- and 4.0-litre versions and was the final upgrade of the XJ40 design. With 290bhp on tap for the 4.0 litre, it could top 150mph. All transmissions were five-speed automatics. At the same time the top of the range supercharged models arrived. The XJR now had 370bhp, whilst the Daimler Super V8 used the same engine with a more luxurious specification. Who needed a V12?

The X308 truly was a superb motorcar.

In November 1997 agreement was reached to keep the production of all Jaguar cars in Britain. The Ford plant at Halewood was chosen to manufacture the new X400 Jaguar as part of an understanding reached by union leaders.

The Merseyside complex had beaten off bids from rival Ford sites in Germany and the USA to make the new model, union officials were told. It was understood that the Boards of both Jaguar and Ford in Britain were behind the Halewood option and it was thought that the ultimate owners in America would rubber-stamp the decision.

As part of the agreement struck by unions, management issued guarantees about the future of existing Jaguar plants in Coventry and Castle Bromwich to meet the concerns of workers there. The Transport and General Workers’ Union was told that existing models would continue to be built in the Midlands towns and that the plants would also manufacture future Jaguar marques.

However, it was accepted that Halewood was the only plant owned by Ford in the UK with sufficient spare capacity to take the new model, which was intended to compete with the BMW 3 Series.
Unions concluded a deal with Ford earlier in 1997 which included a promise that a ‘multi-purpose’ vehicle would be built at Halewood and it was understood that that the X400 would be manufactured on Merseyside instead.

Tony Woodley, chief negotiator for the motor industry at the TGWU, said that the prospect of the ‘quintessentially British’ car being built overseas may have been averted.
’We believe there is a genuine business logic that the new baby Jaguar should be built in the this country. We find it inexplicable and I’m sure the Jaguar-buying public would find it inexplicable if this vehicle was to be built outside the country,’ Tony Woodley said.
 He warned, however, that the final decision would depend on the support the Government could offer.

Tony Woodley added: ‘The quality and efficiency of the Halewood plant, coupled with its capacity, leads me to believe that Britain and Halewood should win the day on business logic. It would be in nobody’s interests for Jaguar to move outside the UK.’

An official statement from Ford said that a study team from Jaguar was still evaluating the potential production sites in Britain, Europe and America. While the evaluation included a review of Halewood, it was too early to speculate on the final outcome of the review.
 The statement conceded that management had been in discussions with unions over the implications if Halewood was the choice.

‘The company has reached a good measure of agreement, but naturally details are still a matter between the company and the unions.’

During 1997, Jaguar sold 43,775 cars.

Jaguar receives government money

On 6 January 1998 a £43m Government grant secured production of the smaller X400 Jaguar for the Ford Halewood plant on Merseyside. 
Production of the X400 was due to begin in 2001 and it was planned that production would rise to 100,000 cars a year, 60 per cent of which would be sold in Europe. The £400m investment would safeguard 3000 of the 4500 jobs on the Halewood site.

Halewood was one of three sites studied to build X400. The other two were Ford factories in Germany and America. Announcing the go-ahead for the X400 at the Detroit Motor Show, Nick Scheele, Jaguar’s Chairman, revealed that the investment would probably have gone to the German factory in Cologne – the cheapest option – without the subsidy from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Nick Scheele and certain Ford top executives, including the Chairman Alex Trotman and the President of its automotive operations Jac Nasser also favoured building the new Jaguar in England for traditional and emotional reasons. Nick Scheele once said of Jac Nasser: ‘He is passionately in love with Jaguar. He has an E-type and a Mk2.’

Only a year earlier the Halewood plant was under threat of complete closure following the decision not to build the Escort replacement on Merseyside. Confirmation that the plant had won the new Jaguar investment was greeted with jubilation. Tony Woodley, National Secretary of the TGWU and chief Ford negotiator, described the decision as great news for the British motor industry and Merseyside.

‘It means that one of the most famous brand names in British manufacturing will continue to be built in its home country in large measure because of the work trade unions have put in to resolving this issue.’
 Eddie O’Hara, the Labour MP whose Knowsley South constituency included the 35-year-old body and assembly plant, said: ‘Workers and management at Halewood have made a tremendous effort to put the past behind them and make the plant cost effective and a plant, that in quality terms, could rival any other,’ he said.

Ian McCartney, the Trade and Industry Minister, said Jaguar’s decision ‘shows that the UK remains the most competitive location for automotive manufacture in Europe’.

Nick Scheele said: ‘Jaguar will turn itself from a small car company into a major player on the international stage. By the time X400 comes onstream we will be a four-model line company with total production of between 200-250,000 cars a year.’

Jac Nasser added: ‘When Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 most people thought we paid too much and that we didn’t look close enough at the soiled merchandise. Maybe we did pay too much at the time but I think history will view our purchase of Jaguar as a very wise move.’

Later in the month the first pre-production X200 S-Types left the Castle Bromwich production lines.

New model development presses on

Meanwhile, work had been ongoing with the X350-generation Jaguar XJ. The marketing men demanded a larger saloon than the existing X308 and the decision was taken to manufacture an all-aluminium bodyshell in order to reduce weight. Four initial design proposals were produced, themes K, T, W and Y. Themes K, W and Y all had a sloping front grille, which did move XJ styling on a little, if not much, but it was the evolutionary theme T which was selected for further evaluation. Theme T was viewed by senior Jaguar executives in February 1998 and this would form the basis of the final design.

It was perceived as being recognisably a Jaguar, qualities which were seen as vital. In March 1998 the supercharged XKR appeared, taking Jaguar sports car performance to a new level, way beyond what the E-type and XJ-S at their most potent offered.

At the Paris Motor Show on 3 October 1998 Jac Nasser of Ford proclaimed that the new S-Type would help to lift annual production at Jaguar to 200,000 cars. Jac Nasser, then head of Ford’s worldwide automotive operations, described this as ‘just the start’. Jac Nasser’s confidence was based on Jaguar’s performance. It was going from strength to strength, particularly in the US and Germany. Sales in 1998 were running 20% ahead of 1997, thanks to the successful launch of the new XK8 convertible and coupe.

Ford’s strategy was to build the Jaguar brand to compete with BMW and Mercedes in the highly profitable executive market. The marque seemed to be coming good at the right time for Ford. The production of the Scorpio had to be stopped due to lack of demand for an upmarket Ford – a severe embarrassment. Jaguar would be used to fill the gap.

Jaguar S-Type is launched


It was on 20 October 1998 that the X200 was announced to the world as the new Jaguar S-Type. BMW had decided to bring forward the announcement of the Rover 75 as a spoiler for the new Jaguar. It was a tactic that worked, as the Rover 75 launch dominated the headlines, if not for the right reasons as BMW Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder decided to use the occasion to send alarm bells ringing about the future of the Rover Group and demand Government aid. After all, the Government had decided to give Halewood a £43m grant…

At the Jaguar S-Type launch Nick Scheele, Chairman and Chief Executive, said: ‘The new S-Type is a true Jaguar thoroughbred, ably representing the company’s core marque values of distinctive style, refined power, agile handling, supple ride and luxurious comfort. While S-Type’s instantly recognisable styling signature evokes the spirit of its acclaimed antecedents, the Mark 2 and original S-type saloons, advanced technologies set new standards in terms of durability, quality, reliability, customer convenience and driving pleasure.’

Commenting on the significance to Jaguar of the launch of S-Type, Nick Scheele, added: ‘The launch of S-Type signals the dawn of a new era in the history of Jaguar. The new S-Type represents the first stage of a dramatic product-led expansion of the company over the next four years, which will attract a new generation of customers to the Jaguar marque. This will fuel a four-fold rise in Jaguar sales from fifty thousand cars this year to over 200,000 cars by 2002, firmly establishing Jaguar as a leading player in the world’s premium car market.’

This figure was modest compared with BMW’s sale of 700,000 cars and Mercedes’ sales of 900,000 in 1998. The new Jaguar S-Type was an American car executive’s view of a traditional British car, while the Rover 75 was a German car executive’s view of a traditional British car.

The view at the time was that the Jaguar S-Type was the better car, but hindsight has tended to reverse that opinion. The S-Type was subject to extensive revisions from 2002, including the addition of a 2.7-litre diesel engine to the range, making it the car it should have been in the first place. Despite all the publicity, both the new British executive cars would not go on sale until the spring of 1999.

During December 1998 the X400/X-Type design was signed off for production. On 16 February 1999, Jaguar announced that David Szczupak would be leaving Jaguar to take up a post as Chief Powertrain Engineer at Ford.

Premier Auto Group is formed

Wolfgang Reitzle

On 19 March 1999 Ford announced that it had appointed Wolfgang Reitzle (right), the former BMW executive ousted the previous month in a boardroom battle over Rover, as Chairman of its new Premier Automotive Group (PAG), which embraced Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lincoln and Volvo. He started his new job three days later. He also became the new Chairman of Jaguar.

Wolfgang Reitzle told workers in Coventry that he wanted Jaguar to be the fastest-growing luxury car brand in the world. Outgoing Jaguar Chairman Nick Scheele took up a new appointment as Senior Vice-President Ford of Europe, Head of Marketing and Sales.

During 1998 Jaguar had sold a record 50,220 cars, all of them coming off the Browns Lane production line, just surpassing the previous record year of 1988 when 49,494 cars were sold.
 ‘People are at last starting to see Jaguar on the radar screen.
 We had to fix the basics first, and then put ourselves in a position to grow,’ Nick Scheele said. The outgoing Chairman had steered the comeback over the previous seven years.

On the subject of the X400 small Jaguar to be built at Halewood, Nick Scheele said:
 ‘We have recognised we have to do something fairly dramatic. We are going to get there, and we’re not going to produce a Jaguar until we get there.’

The record sales of 1998 were Nick Scheele’s legacy to Jaguar. The X308 XJ saloon and XK sports cars were superb and well-built machines. At this stage, Ford were not releasing Jaguar’s financial results, but it was assumed by the media that Jaguar were profitable. 1998 was, thus far, the high point of Ford’s ownership of Jaguar.

However, the rejoicing was shortlived as Ford’s master plan for Jaguar soon began to unravel.

Back to Part Three

Forward to Part Five

Ian Nicholls
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  1. My tuppence-worth on 75 vs. S type: I have never driven a 75, but understand that they are biassed towards comfort – unlike the ZT.
    I had a day out in an S type once, and loved it. The chassis was brilliant, and astonishingly good for an American (Lincoln LS) design. Both ride and handling were superb, with the total absence of steering fight which only RWD can give.
    Had MGR continued in business, I would have found a way to buy a ZTT260; but this RWD hot rod was a very small proportion of 75s/ZTs.
    The S type is too big for me, and there is no estate; but I thought it an excellent car.

  2. I like the way the sentence “The X308 truly was a superb motorcar” stands alone as a paragraph.

    The X308 was and still is an excellent car. With much of the design carried over from the X300, development costs can’t have been much, and Jaguar surely made big profits on this model.

  3. I wrote that because I own an X308 XJR.
    Sadly the Mercedes gearbox has packed up, and it is awaiting collection by its new owner after selling on a well known auction site.

  4. Could the move towards sixties type retro have been inspired by the biggest trend in music at the time, Britpop, with its aversion to the faceless rave culture of the early nineties that preceded it and love of all things sixties? The XJ, with its hints towards the 1968 original might have been a clue, but the S Type was a shameless update of a Jaguar from an earlier part of the sixties, using the same name. Ironically the S Type came out just as Britpop was dying, but retro seemed to be the in thing for car designers at the time with the New Beetle, Rover 75 and the BINI following in its wake.

    • The Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Fiat 500 owe a lot to retro too.

      And as the former suggests, it wasn’t just the UK, the US had the Chevy HHR (unrelated to the Domani Rover 400!) retro pickup, and the Thunderbird as featured in Die Another Day.

      I thought retro was a response to the evolution of car design, which from the 60s had became straight edged in the 70s/early 80s, to rounded in the 80s/90s then increasingly “modern” (eg. Ka/Focus, things that looked like motorshow concepts were increasingly becoming production models).

      It has been said that the Mercedes CLS came about when the Stuttgart firm designers penned what a modern classic Jaguar should look like….

  5. I saw both the new Rover 75 and the new Jaguar S-Type at the British Motor Show as a youngster in 1998. Although I didn’t understand the retro direction Rover were taking, (as somebody who thought the Mk1 800 was still rather clean and modern looking even at that time)to me this car seemed to have the perceived higher levels of detailing, design, engineering and build quality compared with the S-Type. I remember being quite impressed with the Rover stand and one of the 75s being on display in a strange type of high raised and curving platform presentation. BBC Top Gear tended to agree the 75 was the better car, but maybe for fleets and sales executives the Jaguars roominess was worth something more.

  6. Great article, full of interesting facts!

    I loved the styling of X300, retrolutionary I seem to recall was the phrase Jaguar used!

    It all went rather wrong with the S-Type and X-Type though, the S-Type in those photos just looks wrong, it reminds of of those Japanese retro cars, where coachbuilders transform a Nissan Micra into an VDP ADO16, whereas the Rover 75 at least looks “pure”, even if I MUCH prefer the styling of the Rover 600.

    The anticipated sales numbers look shocking in retrospect, only now might Jaguar reach 200,000 sales per annum with the XE and especially the F-Pace.

  7. Thanks for the series of the articles, very interesting even though in the nineties i was too young to be able to have first hand experience of these cars.
    Regarding the discussion of S-type versus 75, i agree that the external styling of the S-type looked somewhat awkward in comparison with the “just about right” 75. But in terms of detailing, engineering and build quality in my view the 75 was let down. Much as pleasant the 75 interior was, i could not stomach some details like the plastic “wood” on the centre console and the plastic “chrome” interior door handle escutcheons. Also the K-series engine a decade after its launch was not really sorted (plastic cylinder head dowels, plastic inlet manifold…), and those plastic (there we go again again…) clutch slave cylinders were not really up to the task. Even though i am not very familiar with the S-type and its (possible) problems, i am not aware of such cost cutting efforts that would eventualy destroy the reliability image of a car.

    • At the start, the 75 wood was real. It was replaced by plastic later, I believe. I’m sure there are former staff who view this site who can confirm one way or the other.

      • Yes indeed, the main dashboard had real wood in the first years, replaced by wood imitation later.
        But i was talking about the decorating pieces in the centre console, the “hooding” of the stereo, the gearlever surround and hazzard warning switch surround, that were always plastic and cheap looking in flesh IMHO. Much better if they used some decent quality, “honest” plastic. I know that i am knit picking here, but that’s the only negative that i have to say for one of the most pleasant car interiors that i have ever experienced.

  8. I would chose a 75 on looks but an S Type on interior comfort and ride. The S Type was a good car in an ugly body. I think it was this car that really killed the retro movement, which is a shame as retro styling can make very stylish cars – as proved by the Bertone B99.

    • Having said that, the Rover 75 was greatly praised for the high quality ride characteristics, with some journalists suggesting it better then the Rolls Royce on sale at the time, (another BMW company)and something BMW perhaps really did not want to trumpet about.
      The S-type alongside a vintage 60’s S-type at the 1998 NEC looked positively fuddy-duddy and reaction best described as mixed by those present.

    • I would have chosen a 75 over an S Type, whose styling I never warmed to. The 75 always looked better IMHO and was seemingly better built than the S Type. It’s interesting that I regularly see 75s, some of which are 17 years old now, which are immaculate, and the only S Type I’ve seen recently was a shabby one on an 02 plate driven by someone who looked decidedly dodgy.

    • I never liked it and think it was a poor pastiche of a well loved sixties car. The X Type I preferred as it was like a smaller XJ and for all people criticise it for using Ford parts, it was probably common sense to do so as developing the car on its own would have been too expensive.
      Also Ford’s ownership of Jaguar and Volvo seemed to make a big impression on their own cars. I can remember the early nineties Escort being an unrefined, badly made and harsh riding pile of rubbish with dismal styling. Ten years later a drive in a Focus 1.6( with the light restyle that improved the detailing) was a revelation, Germanic build quality, a smooth and responsive engine and vastly better suspension.

      • I had thought it was more to do with Ford keeping the accountants away from the design process, & not trying to penny pinch so much.

  9. Well, I had a 75 from 2007 to 2010, when I bought my current XJ6, an X350 aluminium car. The 75 was a 2.5 litre V6 CLub Automatic, and I had very little trouble with it over the 40k miles I drove it which included holidays in Europe.I took it down to Rome twice and, really, it was a wonderful car. The XJ was an early production car of 2003 and I still have it. It is a lovely car, but I have had to spend a great deal of money keeping it going. Nothing major at all, but it does suffer a lot from what I call “UNfair wear and tear”. Items that you know are eventually going to wear out, seem to wear out much quicker than you expect. The main items are suspension bushes, particularly the rear lower wishbones which Jaguar were charging £460 each for at one time. Fortunately the aftermarket soon came to owners rescue, and they are now less than half that price. Yet when I look at this 13 year old car, it is still in amazing condition on 115k miles. Many of these cars have gone over the 200k miles mark and a few even up to and beyond 400k ! SO they are a quality product provided you can keep up with the expenditure on maintenance and replacements.

    I’m now looking around to see if I can buy one from a later year, but there are few petrols around because of the stupid government decision to favour diesels. I have to say at this point that the 2.7 litre diesel engines came with a whole load of additional problems that were never really sorted out.Only when the 3 litre diesel came out in the XF and the new XJ were the problems solved.

  10. Yes, the retro look was all the rage, and Ford’s design chief, J Mays, was a big proponent. However, Jaguar was held back by a member of the founding family who often told the head of Jaguar design, “I’m sorry. I just can’t see that (design) sitting in the driveway at my house or those of my friends.” And that simple statement would kill every attempt to move the needle. That William Clay Ford Sr. wielded that much power over Jaguar is not a surprise as he took great interest in the design of Ford vehicles and, in particular, Jaguar. What is surprising is that the head of Jaguar design kept his job as he told a former colleague of mine, “I just want to grab him by the lapels and scream, ‘Of course you can’t you old sod, you’re 90, most of your friends are dead, and those that aren’t have cataracts!'”

    • It’s true to say that Ford never had a clue about what Jaguar was or should be. They never recognised that the two cars that had lifted Jaguar above the crowd – E Type and XJ4 – were avant gard ground breakers. Ford simply never understood this.

      • Well, there were in fact multiple cars which “lifted Jaguar above the ( contemporary ) crowd ” . The original SS Jaguar saloon; the SS100 ; the XK120 ; the Mark VII ; the small saloons ; as well as the 2 that you mention. Ford were well aware of this . What they never understood, or coped with, was that the success of those cars depended upon a degree of personal control by Lyons which Ford with its corporate culture was wholly incapable of reproducing

        • I’m sorry to disagree with you Christopher, but the products you mention were very much in line with many other cars of their day. The E-Type and XJ4 were head and shoulders above the competition at launch. They became iconic the world over.

          Perhaps having an insider’s perspective gives me a different view?

          • The XK120 was the fastest production car in the world when it launched so I think that counts as being ground breaker!

          • Do tell me what was comparable to the mark VII when launched in 1950 ? Can you name even one saloon car which had the same blend of performance and handling ? I can’t – and , sadly, I do have first hand knowledge of those times . there were certainly no European ( German, French or Italian ) cars which came near it, and although there were a very few American cars which had comparable acceleration , there were none which handled competently

            The same, I’m afraid , applies to each one of the cars I mentioned as ground breaking . I suppose the BMW 328 rivalled the SS100 but there was certainly nothing at the price which came near it

      • I think Ford’s misunderstanding was how much of Jaguar was a con. They thought they’d bought Britain’s Mercedes, whereas in fact they’d bought Porsche, but without the build quality. 2.5 billion was always way too much for a one product opportunistic niche company. Britain’s Mercedes was Rover, Harold Wilson drove a Rover, George Best drove a Jag.

        • Neither Rover or Jaguar could be compared with Mercedes, Mercedes were and continue as a large engineering group, cutting across the aerospace and automotive industry. Jaguar and Rover were just niche vehicle manufacturers who occasionally had products that competed with a few of Mercedes products.

          Ford had little success with Land Rover and Volvo and even less with Jaguar, the reason is that Ford knows how to build good affordable cars, but could not adapt its engineering to bring economy to its premium European brands whilst still making them feel special.

          The Volvo of the Ford era drove and performed better than any Volvo that had come before, but never got the feeling of Swedish “Largom” that Volvo have, Largom being a Swedish word to describe something being perfectly sufficient in every way without any excess.

          Similar stories for Jaguar and Land Rover, great products, but never as special as their brands deserve.

          • I was impressed to hear about the study Ford did into how Volvo operated & the fact that cars were actually cheaper to build in Sweden compared to Detroit when every possible cost had been factored in.

  11. Dave….the XK120 was a classic car. Of course it was. But it didn’t take the world by storm did it? It was just another piece of exotic motoring. The E-Type and XJ4 shook the industry. The E-Type especially….faster than a Ferrari, half the price, and looked way better! Both are acknowledged as design and engineering classics. The XK120 was just another wire-wheeled wonder I’m afraid.

    • Was it Enzo Ferrari who described the E-type at the time was the most beautiful car in the world?

      Personally though whereas the E-type was not helped with age by the edition of a bigger frontal intake, chrome grille and altered headlights, a V12 that was very perhaps thirsty during the fuel crisis, and emission alterations impacting performance; the XJ-S becoming the XJS improved remarkably over the long production run, perhaps sold in greater numbers and was easier to live with.
      Today they are a much more useable classic compared to the E-type and far cheaper. Ten-a-penny at one time but prices are on the rise for high quality and not so good quality examples.
      The S-type values are good and if I was looking for a used S-type would consider a 3.0 Sport model (because they look like a ‘CAD JAG’) or the 2.7 PSA derived diesel with a manual box. My 827 manual coupe suits me and my image just fine though.

      • The E Type was almost impossible to sell in 1974. It was an old design by then, the fuel consumption was terrible, the Italians had overtaken it in the performance stakes, and reliability was no great shakes. Fair does, the XJS had a terrible start, but gradually came good and constant improvements after 1980 made sure there was a healthy market for it. As a classic, an XJS makes more sense than an E Type, performance, equipment levels, reliability, safety and fuel consumption( after 1981) are all better.

        • Glenn: if you were talking only about the V12 E type, I would agree with you. However, the 6 cylinder E type was both reliable and efficient . I have 2, both of which consistently return 23 mpg (Imperial) and mechanically speaking they are very reliable. As always with E types, however, the catch was that the bodywork was very susceptible to corrosion, hence the booming restoration industry

    • I wish I could resist replying to this sort of nonsense, but Kev’s responses are , I’m afraid , just plainly wrong . The XK was just as much of a sensation in 1948 as was to be the E type 13 years later . And by the way, the early XK120 did not have wire wheels! If you really knew anything about the subject you would desist from making such crass pronouncements. I suspect that your knowledge of Jaguar stems from a much later date than the times we are talking about, which is why your grasp of the history of the 1940s to 1960s is so tenuous

      • I’m sorry you feel the need to resort to abuse Christopher. I won’t resort to such levels and will not continue to debate you beyond saying this….in my previous employment, I was very fortunate to have extensive contact with JDHT. The perception of the impact of E-Type and XJ4 within both that organisation and Jaguar in general, was very different to that which you express here.

    • I think you are barking up the wrong tree. The XK120 was a big deal. In fact this quote from Classic and Performance Car says what impact it had:

      “Jaguar XK120: Buying guide and review (1948-1954)

      Decades after it made its debut at the 1948 Earls Court motor show, it’s hard to imagine the impact the Jaguar XK120 had when it was first unveiled. Here was a car that could achieve 120mph thanks to its all-new 3.4-litre XK straight-six engine – an incredible speed in an era when most mainstream family cars could manage little more than half this.

      Even more incredibly, the XK120 wasn’t really intended for production at first; it was effectively a concept, designed to showcase that impressive new powerplant. When Jaguar was inundated with orders it had little choice but to put the car into production.”

      In addition this was the first new Jaguar – previously they were SS Jag’s and this was the car that really supplemented the Jag brand.

      In fact Motorsport magazines buying guide says:

      “Launched in 1948, Jaguar’s first postwar sports car the XK120 was an instant success, its beautiful shape and exemplary performance setting new standards which were clearly appreciated on both sides of the Atlantic.”

      As they also state in the magazine:

      “the six-cylinder DOHC 3.4 Iitre engine was the world’s first large-quantity twin-cam.”

      as well as:

      “When the XK120 was originally announced, Jaguar had no shortage of competition in the sports car market, especially from Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari, whose formidable efforts all began at around the same time. Jaguar’s strongest suit was in providing a top-class product at an almost unbelievably low price. In brief, you got more horses for your money than any other manufacturer could offer or provide.”

      While COYS describe the XK120 launch as:

      “It was at the 1948 London Motor Show that Jaguar virtually threw the sports car world into turmoil with its stunning XK120. Here was a car with incredible style and looks, a powerful six cylinder engine installed in an outstanding chassis and a remarkably low price, a quarter that of a V12 Ferrari, but with similar performance.”

      The E Type and the XJ were great cars that moved on the game, but the XK120 was the car that announced Jag in the first place.

      • Jaguar had planned a XK100 but the demand for XK120s was so great it never went into production.

        I do find the XK120 a little “bulldoggish” in looks, though with wire wheels & no spats it looks better. The XK150 was more pleasing to my eyes.

        A fair amount of XK120 running gear was used in the C-type.

          • The XK100 would have been like the XK120 but with a 2 litre 4 cylinder version of the 3.4 6, but the engine didn’t meet the satisfaction of the management.

            Clark Gable owned the first production SK120 roadster, & was no stranger to fast road cars, also owning a Duesenberg SJ.

  12. Though understanding why Ford chose the FWD Mondeo platform over the RWD DEW platform for the Jaguar X-Type in terms of cost and size, surely costs would have been reduced if a Granada / Scorpio replacement entered production allowing for a smaller RWD DEW platform to instead form the basis of the X-Type (albeit still to a V6 at most).

    • You miss the point….Ford (and GM for that matter) had been forced out of the Granada/Omega market. Ford have struggled with Mondeo, let alone anything bigger. There was simply no point in trying to put a Ford into that market again. This meant that the larger Jaguars would use the DEW98 platform, and the smaller X-Type got the Mondeo (although, it’s true to say that without X-Type, the Mondeo would probably not have happened).

      • Ford were looking at launching Lincoln in Europe at the time of developing the S Type but decided that it was a step too far which could of hurt Jag sales. The original plan for the Mondeo, was never to be part of the X Type programme, infact the X Type would have had a RWD platform shared with a smaller Lincoln but the dropped expansion of this brand killed this off. In fact at the time Ford looked at both the Mondeo and its new D3 platform which would go on to underpinned the Volvo S60, S80 and XC90; Ford 500, Freestyle and Flex; Mercury Montego and the Lincoln MKS.

          • The original story emanating from inside Ford at the time was that Lincoln would have supplanted the Scorpio with a more luxurious brand to go up against the German 3. However from what I have been told Ford of Europe’s management pushed it’s American cousins into refraining from launching Lincoln in Europe as they believed it’s lack of history this side of the pond would have killed it, and it would have been a bigger lame duck and may have taken sales from Jag. The purchase of Volvo sort of filled the hole in Ford’s sales arsenal.

        • Regarding the small Lincoln are you referring by chance to the cancelled Lincoln D310 (and related Ford Fairlane) project that was to also use the DEW platform or possibly a lite version of the DEW platform that eventually become the D2C platform used in the 2005-2014 Ford Mustang?

          • Unfortunately I cannot answer the question completely as I got this information from both my father and Uncle who worked at Fords at the time, and my father now has dementia while my Uncle is the other side of the world.

            All I know from what I was told by them at the time was that they had planned a small Lincoln and Jag aimed at the 3 series and C Class that was to be RWD, although this was quickly scrapped when they dropped plans for a European launch of Lincoln. I don’t know if this was to be a revised DEW platform as used on the S-type. My uncle was working as a design consultant at Fords at the time, however left for a short foray with a consultancy working for Mercedes.

        • The only way Ford was able to make the costings of the Mondeo work, was to include the sales forecasts of X-Type. Your right as far as the original plan Ford plan goes, but that unravelled as soon as the project was costed. X-Type was included from that point on.

          Mind you, it could have been worse….there was a plan once to base the small Jaguar on the Rover 400!

          • Ford still believed they could sell enough Mondeos, the X Type was not in the plan and only become an after thought. When the 2nd gen car was conceived in 96, the Passat had come out and 3 series sales had not yet cut into it’s market share, so the upscaling was to hit back at VW. The reason the X Type come out after the Mondeo was because of the initial issues regarding it’s birth, had it been conceived in toe it would probably been launched at the same time.

          • Strange Dave….at Jaguar we saw a very different picture to the one you’ve been informed of. The ‘initial issues regarding it’s birth’ were entirely due to Ford realising very late in the X400 program that the market wasn’t that keen on a FWD only Jaguar….not mention dumping huge slices of Mondeo’s progam and tooling costs onto Jaguar.

        • Slightly off topic, but I’m intrigued by the Mercury Montego

          Looking in up on Wiki, it doesn’t overlap with the Montego we all know and “love”, as the name wasn’t used by Mercury between 1976 and 2005. Did ARG buy the rights to the badge from Ford, and did Ford get them back again after the collapse of MGR?

          • Presumably they were sold in different markets and so could be used in their own, but not overlapping, markets?
            There was (is?) a GMC Sierra that was nothing to do with the big Ford, which itself ended up being sold in the US as a Merkur XR4Ti.
            Similarly the GM Geo Metro was a NA market rebadged Suzuki Swift, not our beloved small Austin/Rover.

            Though interestingly around 2005 with the collapse of MGR, Ford did briefly “own” the Rover marque (to pair with Land Rover to stop it getting into SAIC hands), it could well have been the case that they snapped up the Monty name again?

  13. Kev – knowing Ford the X Type dumping was to take costs off their books. They did a similar effect with the Focus/Volvo S40 although the S40 was again later added to the plan. It meant their accounts looked good. With having relatives work for Fords across different parts of the business in both the UK, Europe and US I can tell you that they will use any legal method they can to make their finances look good.

    • From first hand experience, Ford dumped a lot of costs into Jaguar throughout their term of ownership. This happened on both X200 and X400. Body, chassis, and powertrain costs were transferred to Jaguar.

  14. maestrowoff – I think it has to do with trademarks. When Daimler were going to launch the S250 they were stopped from calling it the Dart by Chrysler as they had the Trademark for their Dodge range of cars. It may have been that Ford had not trademarked the Montego name, or because it was not sold in the same markets as the AR product then the trademark may have been none and void.

  15. Renault had to used Gordini instead of Alpine for it’s sporting cars in some markets due to Rootes copyright.

    I did read that Volvo never badged the 120 – 130 – 220 series Amazons due to a German motorbike maker using the name.

    • Little bit of fun trivia around Volvo naming….

      Their new small saloon and estate to replace the 440 was originally going to be called S4 / F4.

      Audi stepped in and prevented the use of S4, to which a zero was added to become the S40.

      Then Ferrari stepped in, and the estate F40 became V40.

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