Graded – Jaguar Sports Cars of the Past

Welcome back to Graded. Here we discuss legendary marques, models, or trim packages, and then affix a letter grade to a selection of vehicles falling under that topic. The grades mean nothing and are completely arbitrary. I fully encourage you to tell me what I got wrong and how you would grade them instead. Have some fun with it.

Gathered here are some of very best Jaguars of all time. Describing them as iconic is not a stretch for many of the entries below. These are some of the most gorgeous vehicles ever made, and many were performance marvels, setting new benchmarks during their day. It’s obvious that nothing here is going to get a bad grade, but for gits and shiggles I graded them anyway.

1957 Jaguar XKSS

Grade A

The XKSS was a repacked Jaguar D-type, making it a literal racecar for the street. Gorgeous doesn’t even being to describe this car with elegant flowing lines and the finest craftmanship. Powered by a 3.4-liter straight-six engine, the car had the performance to back up its gorgeous looks. Not many cars were ever built, and they are prohibitively expensive today.

1959 Jaguar XK150 3.8 S

Grade B+

Beginning in 1948, Jaguar created a line of sports cars that started with the XK120, evolved into the XK140 and finally concluded with the XK150. By 1959 the XK150 could be had with a 3.8-liter straight-six engine that created a healthy 265 hp. Despite great performance, the XK150 lacks some of the style of the other cars on this list.

1964 Jaguar E-Type 4.2

Grade A+

This is a car that needs no introduction nor much of a summary. Everyone either knows what a Jaguar E-Type is, or at least what one looks like. Many consider it one of the best-looking cars ever built. By 1964 the 4.2-liter straight-six engine further improve already impressive performance.

1971 Jaguar E-Type 5.3

Grade A-

In 1971 the Series III E-type was introduced. The good news was it could now be had with a silky smooth, powerful V12 engine. The bad news was safety measures had distorted the original E-type’s classic lines.

It was still good looking and a great performer, but the E-Type had lost a bit of the magic from the original car.

1989 Jaguar XJR-S

Grade B-

In 1988 Jaguar and the TWR Group teamed up to start making a special XJR called the XJR-S. Powered by a V12, in 1989 it grew to 6.0-liters in size and produced 329 hp. The downside was it could only be paired to a three-speed automatic. The XJR-S was more of a grand tourer than a sports car, but at least it look great with the S body kit installed.

1990 Jaguar XJR-15

Grade A

Jaguar’s first true supercar since the 1957 XKSS, the XJR-15 implored a similar principle – take a racecar chassis and modify it for road car duty. Beautiful and blistering fast, very few XJR-15s were built over its three-year model run. The 450 hp developed from the 6.0-liter V12 was very impressive for 1990 and could get the car to 60 mph in under four seconds. 

1993 Jaguar XJ220

Grade A+

Full disclosure, the XJ220 is one of my favourite cars of all time; easily my favourite supercar. So of course, it was going to get the highest grade. A manic twin-turbo V6 produced 542 hp and could propel the beast to a top speed well in excess of 200 mph.

But it’s the look of the car that really captivates audiences. It’s a perfect harmony of beauty, elegance and purposefulness.

1998 Jaguar XKR

Grade B

The Jaguar XK replaced the well-past-its-prime XJS in 1997. A year later, things really got interesting with the addition of the XKR. The 4.0-liter V8 engine was supercharged to bump power up to 370 hp. But being a Grand Tourer and not a full-on sports car, a five-speed automatic transmission was the only option.

Still the XKR continued Jaguar’s tradition of making their performance cars look as good as they performed. Many regarded the XK-Series as one of the best-looking cars of its time.

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