The first XJ-S appeared in 1975 as a 1976 model. Power came from the V-12 petrol engine with a choice of a manual or automatic transmission, but the manual was soon dropped. V-12 automobiles were unusual at the time, with notable otherscoming from Italian car makers Lamborghini and Ferrari. The specifications of the XJ-S compared well with both Italian cars; it was able to accelerate to 60mph in 7.6seconds (automatic) and had a top speed of 143mph. The first series of XJ-S cars had a Borg-Warner transmission with a cast iron case and bolt-on bell-housing. From 1979 the GM Turbo-Hydromatic 400 transmissions were fitted. This transmission was an all aluminium alloy casewith an integrated non-detachable bell-housing.

    Jaguar's timing was not good; the car was launched in the wake of a fuel crisis, and the market for a 5.3Ltr V-12 grand tourer was very small. The styling was also the subject of criticism, including the buttresses behind the windows. German authorities feared these would restrict rearward vision and refused to give the model (along with the similarly adorned contemporary Lancia model) type approval: It was for a time necessary instead for German XJS buyers to obtain type approval for each individual car when registering it. Such fears were illfounded, since in reality the rear visibility was very reasonable, with only the front most top edges of the buttresses being visible when looking rearward.

    Jaguar did seize promotional oppertunities with the television series "The New Avengers" and "Return of the Saint". The New Avengers featured Mike Gambit (played by Gareth Hunt) driving an XJ-S. In Return of the Saint Simon Templar (played by Ian Ogilvy) driving an early model XJ-S with the number plate "ST 1". Miniature vertions of these cars were made by Corgi and proved very popular. A decade and a half before, Jaguar had turned down the producers of the earlier "Saint" series when approached about the chances of using the E-type; instead the producers used a volvo P1800 instead.

    Responding to criticisms that the XJ-S was not a worthy E-type successor, in 1978 Pininfarina revealed a sporty show car based on the XJ-S mechanicals \nd c\lled it the Jaguar XJ Spider. The car never went into production.

                                                                      1/43rd scale kit.

                                                                       1/24th scale kit.

                                                                          Built by Rod.

    Rod built the 1/43rd scale Airfix model in December 2005 showing that small scale does not preclude detail or realism, even if it makes it a little harder to bring out.  The larger scale Hasegawa kit was built in the 1990s. Both have Halfords Acrylic car paints for their body colours and Humbrol enamel paints for the detail work.

    Hasegawa kits are virtually as good as Tamiya and along with Fujimi make up the big three Japanese kit manufacturers. Their instruction sheets were not quite as detailed as Tamiya but the general detail levels of the kits are very good and the subject range tends to be a little more varied.