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Lynx XJS Spider
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XJS Restoration

 

Based on an article by Peter Dron- Motor - March 1982

 The Lynx Spyder, launched 1978, preceded the factory XJS cabrio by a decade. Much prettier than the coupe, the Lynx version had rear seats which the factory cabrio lacked. 72 built.

The XJ-S appeared in 1975, during a difficult period in Jaguar's history: Sir William Lyons had retired, and his brilliant stylist/aerodynamist Malcolm Sayer had died in 1971.  Jaguar seemed to be choking in the corporate mire of what was then known as British Leyland.  When the XJS was finally launched in September 1975 it was the first new Jaguar model whose styling failed  to capture the public imagination.  Performance and refinement it had aplenty — even at 150 mph the big coupe was almost silent — but it  was  the   first   Jaguar  whose looks did not match its performance. The styling was bulky and particularly awkward at the rear, where ungainly 'flying buttresses' trailed  unfashionably  from  the edges of the rear window.  Worse still, in many eyes, was the absence of an open-topped roadster version, suspicions that Jaguar were abandoning the performance sports car  market having been confirmed by the discontinuation of the E-Type in December 1974. The E-type, having fist degenerated into its unlovely V12 form and then disappeared from the lists, thus had no direct replacement. It seemed a shame that the effortless but nevertheless extremely rapid performance of the V12 engine could only be enjoyed in the cocooned isolation of the coupe's air-conditioned, leather-clad 2x2 cabin, and that it's sound would only be heard by passers by. There were suggestions at the time that the US would ban open topped cars on the grounds of safety, which may have influenced Jaguar’s design decisions
When it became clear after some time had elapsed that Jaguar were not intending to produce the drophead sports car the world was waiting for, several private specialists turned their hands to satisfying the demand. London-based Lynx Engineering's highly professional XJS Spyder appeared in 1978.

 The XJS Spyder lived up to Lynx's reputation for top-quality craftsmanship, and a great deal of time and effort was put into ensuring that the hood did not upset the lines of car, whether raised or lowered. In fact, many would say that the car benefited considerably from the conversion.

 The hood was made from fully-lined, mohair and was operated by a pair of electrically controlled rams which sat within the rear side panels. The rear side windows were also electrically operated. With the hood in place, headroom was no different to that of the standard car, while rear seat accommodation was only slightly affected. Lynx also claimed that the car was completely weatherproof and free from wind noise, with the added advantage of improved all-round vision due the removal of the XJS's flying buttresses.

V12.jpg (56630 bytes)   Carburettor version of the Jaguar V12

     V12 Engine Section-2.jpg (253285 bytes)  Section of V12 engine- click to enlarge
The difficult part in taking the top away from any car with a monocoque chassis is to restore to it the stiffness which is thereby lost. In the case of a Jaguar, this is particularly important: not only is there a great deal of motor car all ready to flex and groan when deprived of part of its structure, but an essential ingredient of Jaguar driving is the absence of most of the noises that are present in other cars.

The extra metal involved in the reinforcement, plus the hood irons and electric motor, must involve a weight penalty in excess of what is removed

The main area to which attention is given is the sills; at each side a stiffening sill is welded to the existing ones, threading its way through each wheel arch to the corners of the car. The windscreen pillars and door posts are also reinforced, and there is a considerable amount of cross-bracing.

Having chopped and stiffened the car, Lynx fit electrically- operated retractable rear side windows.

   
In the original car the rear side windows are fixed, but of course this would not do for a drop- head. As a result of this, and the stowage of the hood, a small amount of rear shoulder room is lost, though headroom is increased and the rear legroom, sufficient for two people with absurdly short legs, is unchanged. Making room for the hood irons to retract also necessitates lopping off the top inch of the fuel tank, reducing its capacity to a mere 18 gallons Lynx came down on their initial £8950 estimate for the conversion job, to a cost in 1982 of  £6950 and taking approximately ten weeks to complete. This cost represented 50% of the purchase price of the coupe version at that time.
The car is a pleasure to drive, as indeed are all of the range powered by the V12 engine. Scuttle shake is noticeable on potholed Irish roads, but of course totally absent on reasonable surfaces. Fuel consumption is grim, about 17 mpg for normal touring. I have never been able to replicate the claimed 20mpg in moderate speed driving which is claimed by some, and would be very sceptical that it is achievable. The combination of the ultra-smooth V12, plus the three speed GM400 auto transmission, makes for very refined driving.