From 1968 to today, the XJ saloon series has steered an elegant path, epitomising Jaguar’s long-held trademarks of luxury, beauty and power.
To mark 50 years since the exceptional Series I went into production, a historic convoy of XJs from across the decades embarked on a 521-mile journey, from its current home at the Castle Bromwich Assembly Plant, to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, the primary venue for the Paris Motor Show.
Given the 1968 Mondial de l'Auto bore witness to the world premiere of XJ, curated by Jaguar founder, Sir William Lyons, the journey made a more-than-fitting tribute to a Jaguar whose luxury and longevity remain unrivalled.
With XJ, Lyons promised a saloon car with the handling beauty of an E-Type. Its cosseting suspension and smooth, powerful engines made for a ride refinement that was ahead of its time and became synonymous with Jaguar saloons. Heading the line-up for the 50th anniversary convoy, was the inimitable Series I, the first of the luxury XJ models that gained critical acclaim for its beauty, poise and performance.
Emulating the steady evolution of XJ throughout the decades, that only looked to enhance and improve on XJ’s distinctive character, the anniversary cavalcade advanced in chronology; from the Series I car that started it all, right through to the celebratory XJ50 which was revealed at the Beijing Motor Show earlier in 2018.
Representation of all eight generations joined the fleet, including the significant 1973 Series II Coupé, a shapely model that gained cult popularity thanks to its slightly sportier profile, high front bumper and exterior simplicity and the 1979 Series III that proved such a success, it remained in production for 13 years, overlapping with its XJ40 successor.
The cars which took part in this one-off journey included:
- Jaguar XJ Series I: 1968
- Jaguar XJ Series II: 1973
- Jaguar XJ Series II Coupé: 1973
- Jaguar XJ Series III: 1979
- Jaguar XJ XJ40: 1986
- Jaguar XJ X300: 1994
- Jaguar XJ X308: 1997
- Jaguar XJ X350: 2003
- Jaguar XJ X351: 2009
- Jaguar XJR575: 2017
- Jaguar XJ XJ50: 2018
Befitting of the nostalgia and celebratory sentiment of the trip, the fleet stopped at significant destinations along the way, including Jaguar Classic Works, the home of authentic restoration of heritage Jaguars, the Bicester Heritage Centre and the Goodwood and Le Mans race circuits, which have played a substantial role in the life of the Jaguar brand.
The final destination - the presentation halls of Paris - has featured prominently throughout the years of XJ, with the XJ X300 unveiled at the Mondial de l'Auto motor show event in 1994, and the remarkable X350 making its debut there back in 2002. Delivering big news in terms of its design, the X350 stayed faithful to the principles of its predecessors but was the first to be underpinned by a revolutionary lightweight aluminium body, a feature that was designed to be celebrated when the car was revealed highly polished, but completely unpainted on the show stand.
It is XJ’s effortless, composed handling and trademark ‘grace, space and pace’ that has made it the top choice for celebrities, politicians and royalty for five decades, and the milestone convoy topped a series of events to celebrate one of the world’s greatest saloon cars. On April 25th 2018, the celebrations began, with the launch of the special edition XJ50, the latest incarnation of XJ innovation, craftsmanship and design that has come to define entire eras of automotive history.
Building on this heritage, the milestone XJ50 carries on this fine tradition with its lightweight aluminium architecture for greater driving dynamism and responsiveness, a refined engine, and of course, a flawlessly crafted interior that sublimely reflects the trademark XJ style, comfort and elegance. On the outside, the XJ50 features Autobiography-style front and rear bumpers, new 20” Venom wheels, a black front grille and unique badging to the rear and side vents. The updated cabin features all the benefits of cutting-edge technology, right where you need it, too.
Available in both long and short wheelbases but keeping the distinctive coupé-like four-door design and ‘Double J’ signature headlight graphics, there’s still nothing quite like it. Much has changed since the original XJ back in 1968 – but both the Series I and XJ50 are inextricably linked by their respective interpretations of truly timeless Jaguar values.
EXPLORE MORE OF XJ’S HISTORY
Read the full story on XJ's 50 years as an icon, and explore the innovations that helped make each generation special.
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