For the 1977 Turin Show, Bertone unveiled the sensationally wedgy Jaguar XJ-S based Ascot. Choosing to create a Jaguar-based concept has always been fraught with difficulties for the Italians – not least because Jaguars have such strong DNA that whenever they stray too far away from what’s come before, that essential ‘Jaguarness’ is lost. Bertone had penned several Jaguar concepts over the years, and in 1977 was still loosely attached to the Coventry company, having created a proposal for the XJ40 programme. But the stylish Ascot was something else entirely.
The one-off show car received considerable publicity at the time, not least because it followed in the tracks of the equally outrageous Ferrari Rainbow and Lamborghini Bravo. Bertone was clearly in love with the wedge at the time – applying the same styling scheme and wheelarch shapes as its Lamborghini Countach to seemingly everything else it produced. The Ascot improved on the XJ-S in two important areas – it was potentially lighter, thanks to aluminium construction, and had a hatchback rear door, just like the old E-type.
A fascinating might-have-been, but not a car seriously considered for production, no matter how appealing it looked at the time.