Is the Jaguar Lynx XJ-S the sexiest estate ever?

Reckon Jaguar’s X-type was the first estate to wear the leaping cat? It’s time to think again. Check out the Lynx Eventer XJ-S shooting brake…

When the Jaguar XJ-S was launched in 1975, it seemed that everyone hated it. Succeeding Sir William Lyons’ world-changing E-type, the new boy’s angular stance and lack of sporting appeal proved somewhat challenging. It was so devoid of interest that virtually no one noticed when production all but ceased in 1980 – not even the company bigwigs would be caught driving one.

Yet, as viewing one today proves, Jaguar’s design-by-committee approach was simply ahead of its time. With time’s onward march, the XJ-S shape found steadfast favour with clientele and enthusiasts alike, moving away from a lampooned GT and into the arms of enthusiasts. Sales soared and the XJ-S remained in production until 1996.

The same story applies to the XJ-S Lynx estate – a genuinely rare beast of which only 67 were made. The proletariat once guffawed at the concept that a grand touring coupé could be transformed into a practical estate car, before David Brown at Aston Martin silenced them for good with his DB5 shooting brake, but Lynx took the concept to another level.

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Meet Lynx Engineering

Lynx Engineering made its debut in 1973, building faithful replicas of the Jaguar C- and D-type. Based out of a converted farm in Sussex, the firm never intended to become a Jaguar specialist. The clue is the company name taken from another stalwart British classic, the Riley Lynx. Yet moving through an array of brands during initial restorations, the pairing of Lynx engineers and Jaguar design shone through.

Although it’s now hard to believe, back when bell bottoms dominated the pavements and Aretha Franklin ruled the airwaves the classic car scene didn’t really exist. Old cars simply faded into the past. It wasn’t until a customer asked for his XJ6 saloon to be rehabilitated into a convertible that an idea was hatched.

Why did Lynx make an estate?

Drop-top conversions were on their way in, and Lynx pounced on the concept by crafting its own XJ-S convertibles. Naturally, it was gutted when Jaguar produced an official variation during the 1980s. Lynx’s order books were still busy, but the future appeared bleak.

To keep ahead of the curve, Lynx decided to follow a different path. Instead of producing now-commonplace convertibles, designers opted to transform the rapidly appreciating XJ-S into perhaps the most British car of all time – the Eventer estate.

The result was a svelte V12 load-lugger with three doors and enough rear room to cart the family Labrador around. Lined with extra leather and wood, the Eventer offered far more than a bog-standard 12-cylinder XJ-S.

For starters, the Eventer provided extra visibility when compared with the original’s rear ‘letter box’ window, rear legroom that could be properly utilised by those without paper-thin legs, and a decadent whiff of added exclusivity.

How did Lynx do it?

Over a 14-week period, each XJ-S was torn apart aft of the bulkhead. The fuel tank was relocated, the floorpan was rolled out and the suspension was stiffened to accommodate a raised centre of gravity. The Eventer sat three inches higher than any other XJ-S, yet the extra weight didn’t affect its poise. Handling characteristics may have been tarnished slightly when pushed hard, but for sensible driving none of the XJ-S charm had been lost.

In fact, the design and build quality were so impressive that most onlookers were fooled into believing the car came from Jaguar itself, as confirmed by Motorsport magazine in 1983:

‘Apart from a minor, irritating rattle caused by a loose trim panel, the Eventer prototype might well have been straight from the Jaguar factory: the high quality of the conversion is enhanced by the fact that Lynx has re-sprayed the car in its entirety without recourse to any vinyl roof treatment over the modified body panels.’

Unlike most conversions of the time from rival coachbuilders, the Eventer estate didn’t appear to be an afterthought. Its clean lines and unruffled posture gave it the feeling of a unified design. It didn’t cost the earth, either. The conversion cost £6950 back in 1983; roughly £20,000 today. To someone with enough cash to buy an XJ-S in the first place, this amount was small change.

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The Lynx Eventer today

Today, the Eventer estate makes for a serious collector’s item. Selling for well above average classic XJ-S prices, and with only those 67 ever made, they are seldom seen on the open market.

The prototype Eventer sold at auction back in 2014 for £28,750, and the asking price is set to go in only direction: up.

While Jaguar may have terminated Lynx’s production of bespoke XJ-S convertibles, the action instead gave us something even better. Setting the tone for several further attempts to add space to Jag’s grace and pace – with examples of the XJ40, X300 and XK8 all receiving the estate treatment – the Eventer blends style, practicality and rarity where mainstream manufacturers most often fail.

The first production Jaguar to wrap a factory-fresh warranty around such a guise was the 2004 model year X-type, with top-specification vehicles boasting a V6 and four-wheel drive. Manufacture of the X-type wrapped up in 2009, and it was followed by the short-lived XFR Sportbrake. The original Eventer’s impact had reached far.

This one is for sale!

Amazingly, we’ve got this one for sale in the classifieds!

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