1987 Jaguar XJ-S V12 Cabriolet Princess Diana's Car
This car was built towards the end of Cabriolet production, and was originally the personal car of Diana, Princess of Wales. Although the Cabriolet was normally offered only as a two-seater, this car was specially fitted with rear seats for the young Princes William and Harry.
The Princess used this car from 1987 to 1991, and it was then acquired by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in return for a contribution to her charity. Princess Diana was the third generation of the Royal family to have chosen Jaguars for personal transport. The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust is proud to preserve Princess Diana’s car together with the Jaguar Mark VII originally used by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and cars used by HM The Queen.
Originally, the XJ-S had only been available with the closed coupé body, but in response to demand for a soft-top version, the Cabriolet model was introduced in 1983. Also in this year, the XJ-S became the first Jaguar model to be fitted with the new AJ6 3.6 litre six-cylinder engine, as an alternative to the V12. The Cabriolet model was at first only offered with the six-cylinder engine, although a V12 Cabriolet followed in 1985.
The styling of the Cabriolet model was dictated by the window frames which were fixed, and which together with a cross bar supported the rigid targa-type roof panels. For the rear part of the hood, every car was supplied with both a ‘half hard top’ and a folding soft top. Although the Cabriolet was a useful addition to the Jaguar range as the most sporting model since the demise of the E-type, especially the AJ6-engined car with manual gearbox, it was still felt by many to be a compromise solution.
In the spring of 1988, Jaguar introduced the Convertible model of the XJ-S, with a fully disappearing soft top, and the Cabriolet version was discontinued after a production run of 5,013 cars.
Jaguar World included a write-up on this car as their ‘FINISHING LINES’ article in their May 2018 magazine.
Diana, Process of Wales and her 1987 XJ-S cabriolet
JAGUAR CHAIRMAN John Egan’s assertion that an open XJ-S would make both the company and car appear more glamorous was vindicated when Diana, Princess of Wales, took delivery of an XJ-S cabriolet V12 in 1987. As one of the most glamorous women in the world at the time, and easily the most famous, her choosing a Jaguar was a real boost for the British company.
However, as a two-seater, the cabriolet wasn’t practical for a mother of two young children, so, similar to the final convertibles from the mid-Nineties, her car was fitted with two small rear seats. Other changes that Diana requested Jaguar make to the car included a unique fixed rear hardtop so the two young Princes would not strike their heads on the solid targa roof bar in the event of an accident. The Princess also specified a personalised leather and Harris Tweed seat upholstery, and the American-export four-round-headlight treatment was chosen.
Diana enjoyed driving her Jaguar so much that, as seen in this image from the late Eighties, her protection officer was often relegated to the front passenger seat, with her behind the wheel. The car – finished in British Racing green to match the Aston Martin V8 Volante that Prince Charles acquired around the same time – was also a witness to the breakdown of the royal marriage. When Prince William started boarding school in September 1990, Diana drove there with William in the Jaguar, while Charles arrived in his Aston. Both cars arrived via the school’s back gate, and the Princess and young Prince transferred to Charles’ car away from prying eyes before driving in front of the waiting press together.
When the two Princes outgrew the XJ-S’ small rear seats in 1991, Diana, in exchange for a contribution to one of her own charitable causes, donated the car to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, where it still resides. She replaced the XJ-SC with a Mercedes-Benz 500SL, a controversial decision since it was the first time in recent years that a member of the British Royal Family had purchased a foreign car.
Still, in initially choosing the Jaguar, Diana (along with Sarah, Duchess of York, who drove an early 1988 convertible) showed that an open XJ-S really was the most glamorous car in the world.
Registration Mark: E763 KYX
Chassis Number: SAJJNACW3CA142613
Owner: The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust
Inventory Number: 92/J.47