Concepts and prototypes : Jaguar XJ40, part 1

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

The first full-sized XJ40 prototype appeared in 1973, yet it wasn’t until 1986 that it actually went on sale – is this the longest gestation period in BL’s history?

Ian Nicholls charts the genesis in pictures…

From ’72 to ’77… XJ40 evolves

September 1972: Styling scale models

IT’S clear to see that the XJ40 programme was initially developed alongside the XJ27 project – the styling similarities between the two cars are readily apparent. And yet, the XJ-S styling really appears to work when upscaled into a four-door saloon, leading to some awkward and obvious conclusions that Jaguar designers probably wouldn’t want us to come to…

February 1973: The first full-sized clay model

A further development of the XJ-S style scheme as revealed in scale form above, the XJ40 has lost a little of its angularity at this point, and clearly shows that some of the concepts investigated in miniature were difficult to develop into full-size form. There are appealing XJ saloon stling touched here, especially around the flanks and wheelarches.

April 1973: Double sided clay model

More XJ-S styling tones here – and the angularity is back. It looks good, but not really Jaguar-like…

On the other side, a haunch has been added to give the saloon a more feline stance…

To the left, it looks like an XJ-S, and to the right, it looks even more exciting…

The boot-line of the XJ-S style car (left) looks the more interesting here…

The same car now covered in Dynoc, coloured and sat outdoors… looking good?

May 1973: The style decided?

A refinement of the XJ-S style is now looking like the way forward – and although it’s softer and less angular than its sporting cousin, this generation of XJ40 is now looking rather purposeful…

June 1973: Further refinement

August 1973: straightening the curves a little

Note the front spoiler now fitted, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class along for the ride in the background…

September 1973: management review

The style is now really taking shape – and it is in this form that the XJ40 would be presented to Donald Stokes and John Barber for their approval the following month…

October 1973: confidence grows

May 1974: Italian influence

Jaguar Managing director, Geoffrey Robinson, brought in the Italian styling houses, which resulted in the in-house stylists investigating more radical ideas from late 1973…

June 1974: Compare and contrast

This unappealing effort looks clumsy compared with previous proposals..

August 1974: Someone’s been to Solihull

October 1974: More development of a theme

March 1975: smoothing the wedge

September 1975: it’s starting to look rather good…

December 1975: Another double-sided clay

March 1976: That model evolves…

August 1976: That model evolves…

There appears to be plenty of work going on here, with two XJ40 prototypes being reviewed…

January 1977: nearly there…

Definitely getting close to the finishing line now – with real XJ6 (1986) styling cuse on the top proposal at least. Note the curious flush door handles on the bottom one… would they have been a winner on a luxury car?

March 1977: nearly there…

The main debate at this stage in the programme was whether the XJ40 was going to be a four- or six-light design. This four-ligter looks rather appealing… but didn’t win through sadly.

July 1977: More four-light ideas

Thanks to Ian Nicholls

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams


  1. Very interesting set of pictures. It started out as a very elegant looking car, ( the 1972 scale models ) – which the S3 XJ6 bore a resemblance to – and ended up ( XJ40 ) as the sort of thing you would walk past without ever noticing

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