Jaguar Convertible

May 28, 2012
Jaguar XJ Convertible
May 28, 2012

Jaguar Convertible

Newport Convertible Engineering – NCE will design and engineer your Jaguar to a Jaguar Convertible.

NCE’ European convertible collection, Jaguar Convertible.

Newport Convertible engineering was first US coach builder which designed, engineered and distributed Jaguar XJ 4-door Convertible.
NCE will Design & Engineer your Jaguar XJ 4-door to Power top convertible, NCE EDITION.


Newport Convertible Engineering chops the top off the Jaguar Jaguar XJL Convertible by NCE

Posted Aug 15th 2011 8:28AM

Sometimes we lament the loss of four-door convertible “parade cars.” Then we see something like this and we don’t miss ’em one bit. Woof.

Based on the Jaguar XJ (the long-wheelbase XJ L, to be specific), Newport Convertible Engineering has produced this four-door cabriolet to some questionable results. Sure, the divisive rear quarters of the sedan have been minimized, if not eliminated, but cutting off the roof in favor of folding soft top is hardly an aesthetic improvement.

Inside Line recently tested one and seemed to have enjoyed the experience, but while NCE’s transformation was reportedly the most difficult they’ve pulled off to date, we’d just as soon keep the roof on and take our iced tea in a Bentley Continental GTC. Especially when the XJ convertible starts out around $130,000.


Open Roof: Newport Convertible Engineering Peels Roof off Jaguar XJ

American convertible specialist, Newport Convertible Engineering, give the Jaguar XJ sedan a new look.
There is nothing quite like riding in a convertible on a beautiful day, especially when that car just happens to be a Jaguar. With that idea in mind, American convertible specialist Newport Convertible Engineering has now produced a four-door cabriolet based on the long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ sedan. The company has previously sawed off the roofs of a Toyota FJ CruiserHummer H2, Mercedes CL and even a Toyota Prius. As awkward as those finished products were, the XJ is even more so.
Because of the folding soft top, rear space has been cut down along with available trunk space. But before everyone jumps in line to buy one, you should know the cost for an XJ cabriolet by NCE will set you back around $130,000. Overall, we feel the graceful and sleek roofline of the standard XJ is what partially gives it its beautiful and striking appearance. Without that roof, the car looks really awkward. NCE states this was their most challenging job to date, but we’d prefer to leave Jaguar convertibles as two-doors.
Open Roof: Newport Convertible Engineering Peels Roof off Jaguar XJ
Open Roof: Newport Convertible Engineering Peels Roof off Jaguar XJ

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The Jaguar E-Type (UK) or XK-E (US) is a British automobile, manufactured by Jaguar between 1961 and 1974. Its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. More than 70,000 E-Types were sold during its lifespan.

In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in the Daily Telegraphs list of the “100 most beautiful cars” of all time.[2] In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.

The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a rear-wheel drive grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). The 2+2 version with a lengthened wheelbase was released several years later.

On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”.[3]

The model was made in three distinct versions which are now generally referred to as “Series 1”, “Series 2” and “Series 3”. A transitional series between Series 1 and Series 2 is known unofficially as “Series 1½”.

In addition, several limited-edition variants were produced:

  • The “‘Lightweight’ E-Type” which was apparently intended as a sort of follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, two have been converted to Low-Drag form, whilst two others are known to have been wrecked and deemed to be beyond repair, although one has now been rebuilt. These are exceedingly rare and sought after by collectors.
  • The “Low Drag Coupé” was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognised the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.[4]

Concept versions

E1A (1957)

After the company’s success at the LeMans 24 hr through the 1950s, Jaguar’s defunct racing department was given the brief to use D-Type style construction to build a road-going sports car, replacing the XK150.

The first prototype (E1A) featured a monocoque design, Jaguar’s fully independent rear suspension and the well proved “XK” engine. The car was used solely for factory testings and was never formally released to the public. The car was eventually scrapped by the factory.

E2A (1960)

Jaguar’s second E-Type concept was E2A which, unlike the E1A, was constructed from a steel chassis with an aluminium body. This car was completed as a race car as it was thought by Jaguar at the time it would provide a better testing ground. E2A used a 3-litre version of the XK engine with a Lucas fuel injection system.

After retiring from the LeMans 24 hr the car was shipped to America to be used for racing by Jaguar privateer Briggs Cunningham. In 1961, the car returned to Jaguar in England to be used as a testing mule. Ownership of E2A passed to Roger Woodley (Jaguar’s customer competition car manager) who took possession on the basis the car not be used for racing. E2A had been scheduled to be scrapped. Roger’s wife Penny Griffiths owned E2A until 2008 when it was offered for sale at Bonham’s Quail Auction. It eventually sold for US$4,957,000.[5]

Production versions

1,256 kg) (OTS)
3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)[9]The Series 1 was introduced, initially for export only, in March 1961. The domestic market launch came four months later in July 1961.[10] The cars at this time used the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre six-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from theXK150S. The first 300 cars built had flat floors and external hood (bonnet) latches. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8-litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in October 1964.[10]

All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension with torsion bar front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were power-assisted. Jaguar was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to equip cars with disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 can be recognised by glass-covered headlights (up to 1967), small “mouth” opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the number plate in the rear.

3.8-litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and a Moss four-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for first gear (“Moss box”). 4.2-litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox. 4.2-litre cars also have a badge on the boot proclaiming “Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type” (3.8 cars have a simple “Jaguar” badge). Optional extras included chrome spoked wheels and a detachable hard top for the OTS.

A 2+2 version of the coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of an automatic transmission. The body is 9 in (229 mm) longer and the roof angles are different with a more vertical windscreen. (this is an incorrect assumption, the S1 OTS, coupe and 2+2 had identical rake windshields). The roadster remained a strict two-seater.

Less widely known, right at the end of Series 1 production and prior to the transitional “Series 1½” referred to below, a very small number of Series 1 cars were produced with open headlights. Production dates on these machines vary but in right hand drive form production has been verified as late as March 1968. The low number of these cars produced make them amongst the rarest of all production E Types.

Following the Series 1 there was a transitional series of cars built in 1967–1968, unofficially called “Series 1½”, which are externally similar to Series 1 cars. Due to American pressure the new features were open headlights, different switches, and some de-tuning (with a downgrade of twin Zenith-Stromberg carbs from the original triple SU carbs) for US models. Some Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style.

An open 3.8-litre car, actually the first such production car to be completed, was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1961 and had a top speed of 149.1 mph (240.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 7.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.3 miles per imperial gallon (13.3 L/100 km; 17.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £2,097 including taxes.

Series 1 4.2 Roadster, pictured in London

Production numbers from Graham:

  • 15,490 3.8s
  • 17,320 4.2s
  • 10,930 2+2s

Production numbers:

FHC OTS 2+2 Total
S1 3.8 7,670 7,828 0 15,498
S1 4.2 5,830 6,749 3,616 16,195
S1.5 1,942 2,801 1,983 6,726
TOTAL 38,419

Series 2 (1969–1971)

Series II
1969 E-Type SII Roadster
Production 1969–1971[6][7]
Body style 2-door coupe
2-door 2+2 coupe
2-door convertible
Engine 4.2 L XK I6
Kerb weight 3,018 lb (1,369 kg) (FHC)
2,750 lb (1,247 kg) (OTS)
3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)[9]

Open headlights without glass covers, a wrap-around rear bumper, re-positioned and larger front indicators and tail lights below the bumpers, better cooling aided by an enlarged “mouth” and twin electric fans, and uprated brakes are hallmarks of Series 2 cars. De-tuned in US with twin strombergs and larger valve clearances, but still with triple SUs in the UK and the much tighter valve clearances, the engine is easily identified visually by the change from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial “ribbed” appearance. Late Series 1½ cars also had ribbed cam covers. The interior and dashboard were also redesigned, with rocker switches that met US health and safety regulations being substituted for toggle switches. The dashboard switches also lost their symmetrical layout. New seats were fitted, which purists[who?] claim lacked the style of the originals but were certainly more comfortable. Air conditioning and power steering were available as factory options.

Production according to Graham is 13,490 of all types.[14]

Series 2 production numbers:[15]

S2 4,855 8,628 5,326 18,809

Official delivery numbers by market and year are listed in Porter[6] but no summary totals are given.

Series 3 (1971–1974)

Series III
'74 Jaguar E-Type Convertible (Hudson).JPG1974 Jaguar E-Type Series III convertible (North America)
Production 1971–1974
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupe
2-door convertible
Engine 5.3 L Jaguar V12 engine
Wheelbase 105 in (2,667 mm) (both)[9]
Length 184.4 in (4,684 mm) (2+2)
184.5 in (4,686 mm) (OTS)[9]
Width 66.0 in (1,676 mm) (2+2)
66.1 in (1,679 mm) (OTS)[9]
Height 48.9 in (1,242 mm) (2+2)
48.1 in (1,222 mm) (OTS)[9]
Kerb weight 3,361 lb (1,525 kg) (2+2)
3,380 lb (1,533 kg) (OTS)[9]

A new 5.3 L twelve-cylinder Jaguar V12 engine was introduced, with uprated brakes and standard power steering. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued and the V12 was available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. The convertible used the longer-wheelbase 2+2 floorplan. It is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. There were also a very limited number of six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales literature.

Graham lists production at 15,290.[14]

Series 3 production numbers:[15]

S3 0 7,990 7,297 15,287

Limited editions

Two limited production E-Type variants were made as test beds, the Low Drag Coupe and Lightweight E-Type, both of which were raced:

Low Drag Coupé (1962)

Shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to investigate the possibility of building a car more in the spirit of the D-Type racer from which elements of the E-Type’s styling and design were derived. One car was built to test the concept designed as a coupé as its monocoque design could only be made rigid enough for racing by using the “stressed skin” principle. Previous Jaguar racers were built as open-top cars, because they were based on ladder frame designs with independent chassis and bodies. Unlike the steel production E-Types, the LDC used lightweight aluminium. Malcolm Sayer retained the original tub with lighter outer panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel sub frame remained intact, the windshield was given a more pronounced slope, and the rear hatch was welded shut. Rear brake cooling ducts appeared next to the rear windows, and the interior trim was discarded, with only insulation around the transmission tunnel. With the exception of the windscreen, all cockpit glass was perspex. A tuned version of Jaguar’s 3.8-litre engine with a wide-angle cylinder head design tested on the D-Type racers was used. Air management became a problem and, though a higher performing vehicle than its production counterpart, the car was never competitive.

The only test bed car was completed in summer of 1962 but was sold a year later to Jaguar racing driver Dick Protheroe. Since then it has passed through the hands of several collectors on both sides of the Atlantic and is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

Lightweight E-Type (1963–1964)

Twelve cars plus two spare bodies were made by Jaguar.

In some ways, this was an evolution of the Low Drag Coupé. It made extensive use of aluminium alloy in the body panels and other components. However, with at least one exception, it remained an open-top car in the spirit of the D-Type to which this car is a more direct successor than the production E-Type which is more of a GT than a sports car. The cars used an aluminium block tuned version of the production 3.8-litre Jaguar engine with 300 bhp (224 kW) output rather than the 265 bhp (198 kW) produced by the “ordinary” version. All factory-built lightweights are fitted withfuel injection.

The cars were entered in various races but, unlike the C-Type and D-Type racing cars, they did not win at Le Mans or Sebring but were reasonably successful in private hands and in smaller races.

One Lightweight was modified into a Low-Drag Coupé (the Lindner/Nocker car), by Malcolm Sayer.

Another Lightweight was modified into a unique Low-Drag design (the Lumsden/Sargent car), by Dr Samir Klat of Imperial College. Along with the factory LDC, this lightweight is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

Many were fitted with more powerful engines as developments occurred.

Motor sport

Bob Jane won the 1963 Australian GT Championship at the wheel of a “lightweight” E-Type.[16]

The Jaguar E-Type was very successful in SCCA Production sports car racing with Group44 and Bob Tullius taking the B-Production championship with a Series-3 V12 racer in 1975. A few years later, Gran-Turismo Jaguar from Cleveland Ohio campaigned a 4.2-litre six-cylinder FHC racer in SCCA production series, and in 1980 won the National Championship in the SCCA C-Production Class, defeating a fully funded factory Nissan Z-car team with Paul Newman.

Jaguar XJ Convertible

Newport Convertible engineering was first US coach builder which designed, engineered and distributed Jaguar XJ 4-door Convertible.
NCE will Design & Engineer your Jaguar XJ 4-door to Power top convertible, NCE EDITION.

Driving the 2011 NCE Jaguar XJL Convertible

  • 2011 NCE Jaguar XJL Picture

    At first glance, it almost looks as though this Jaguar is your typical XK convertible. | August 10, 2011 | Kurt Niebuhr for Edmunds

Driving the 2011 NCE Jaguar XJL Convertible

Sedan Roominess in a Convertible Package

By , Contributor | Published Aug 11, 2011

Odds are the person who coined the phrase “relegated to the backseat” spent more than a few miles riding in the back of a convertible. It’s often a miserable place thanks to incessant wind, constant noise and typically cramped quarters.

Then there’s the backseat of Newport Convertible Engineering’s (NCE) Jaguar XJ convertible. It’s still wind-blown and loud in back, but in this convertible there’s plenty of room to stretch out. So even if you don’t necessarily feel comfortable, you’ll look as if you are.

An Interesting Perspective
The first time we take a good look at this soft-top 2011 NCE Jaguar XJL it’s from the rear. It’s not the most flattering angle to begin with, given the already controversial shape of the standard taillights, which are usually mitigated somewhat by the sweeping C-pillars.


Replacing those metal C-pillars and sloping rear glass with a convertible top only exaggerates the height of the rear end. The result is a not very flattering bustlelike rear quarters, reminiscent of the Murano CrossCabriolet, or Kim Kardashian depending on your preferred frame of reference.

The view improves dramatically from the side. Newport’s Al Zadeh definitely got his sums right with the secret formula he has devised over the years to make the top sit as low as possible without interfering with its ease of operation. Zadeh fabricated an aluminum header to allow the top to mate seamlessly with the stock windshield frame. From there, a gentle arch maintains headroom as the top flows smoothly into the car’s rear flanks. From a distance, it almost looks like a vinyl-covered roof, for better or worse.

Top down, the side view remains pretty sleek, marred somewhat by the protrusion of the B-pillars and attendant roll bar. Even if you were willing to sacrifice safety for appearance’s sake, the B-pillars are still a necessity because they carry the tracks for the power windows.

Given the pedigree of our ride, we chose to cruise along some of Orange County’s most affluent waterfront communities to assess the Jag’s impression on the area’s automotive fashionistas. The car drew admiring looks and comments. What surprised us, however, was that almost no one recognized it as a Jaguar. Most thought it was a concept car.

Cruising Vessel
And what was it like to drive? About how you would think a Jaguar XJL with a convertible top would drive. On rough surfaces, there was some vibration transmitted through the steering column but no cowl shake, top up or down. When raised, the top structure exhibited some shake when we passed over larger bumps. Overall the ride was smooth and quiet with no creaks, groans or wind whistling.

Zadeh considered its conversion the biggest challenge of his nearly 30-year career.

Our biggest issue was coping with limited rear vision through the small oval-shaped glass rear window. Still, that was better than peering over the bulge of the top when lowered. Given the top’s overall length, we don’t think Zadeh could have mounted it any lower, but it still protrudes enough to impede rear vision, including the rear three-quarters view.

With such limited vision from the driver seat, we decided to try out the backseat. Thanks to the unchanged rear doors and the abundant legroom, getting in and out was a breeze. Headroom is not compromised at all with the top raised either. It features three-layer construction that consists of a soft suede headliner, foam insulation and an exterior covering of German canvas.

Lower the top and the experience feels absolutely regal. Just settle back and cruise elegantly along as the rest of the world rolls past. From the backseat, the XJL provides one of the best convertible rides on the planet.

The 99 Percent Solution
“My objective was to keep the car as original as possible,” Zadeh had told us. “Ninety-nine percent of the cars need some alteration of the rear seats; not on this car, it is all intact,” he declared.

Most of the trunk is intact as well, leaving a generous amount of space even when the top is lowered.

Because of the Jaguar’s unique aerospace-style construction of bonded and riveted aluminum, Zadeh considered its conversion the biggest challenge of his nearly 30-year career. He used aluminum sheeting and tubing to build up a box frame that runs along the rocker panels to maintain stiffness after removing the car’s huge panoramic roof.

At the rear he added an aluminum platform that bolts into the trunk to support the base of the top along with its operating hardware and hydraulics. And of course the big roll bar that lines up with the B-pillars. According to Newport, the convertible conversion weighs a mere 40 pounds more than the stock sedan.

Chauffeur Not Included
The 2011 NCE Jaguar XJL Convertible will run you $49,000 plus the cost of the stock sedan. So you’re talking $130,000 to start. That includes a three-year warranty that can also be extended to five years.

To enjoy it fully, though, you should also consider a driver. It’s the only way to fully appreciate how enjoyable it is to ride in the backseat of this convertible. Yeah, there’s still some wind and considerable noise, but you can’t match the view.

Newport Convertible Engineering provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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