Deep down, every petrolhead desires a Jaguar convertible. There’s something about the heritage of this great British marque that fairly demands that you drop the hood and floor the throttle on a Sunday morning. Perhaps it’s the glamour attached to the convertible Jaguar E-Type of the 1960s, or the knowledge that Stirling Moss raced an open D-type at Le Mans - a car that sold, just incidentally, for around £8 million at auction. Here’s a somewhat cheaper but no less powerful option that’s now available for your garage: a V12 XJS Jaguar convertible by Hess & Eisenhardt.


The XJS had a troubled beginning. In coupé form what became known as the flying buttresses behind the rear window - recalling perhaps a gothic cathedral rather than a great British sports car - hampered its aesthetic appeal. A clumsy cabriolet-style factory Jaguar convertible version did few favours for what should have been a halo 1980s sports car. Luckily, in the United States, specialist coachbuilders Hess & Eisenhardt had other ideas, and the very rare Jaguar convertible you see here is the elegant result.

You wouldn’t think a Jaguar convertible would be an ideal Hess & Eisenhardt project. That’s because the firm was best known for providing armour plated vehicles for heads of state, including every presidential limousine in the US from 1948 until 2001. For the XJS, Hess & Eisenhardt removed, rather than added, protection. Folded hood is placed low in the body for a smooth profile when you’re cruising top-down. Conversion is to presidential standards and the example you see here has covered a mere 47,000 miles, so basically just run in.

Because upfront is where the attacking power of this Jaguar lies. Under that long bonnet is Jaguar’s renowned 5.3-litre V12, a power unit designed to make sure that this Jaguar convertible is way more than a boulevard cruiser. Interior - it’s left-hand drive, so we’d suggest a swift Continental trip to make the most of that - features all the leather and walnut that you’d expect from a Jaguar and a t-bar to control the automatic transmission. Floor the accelerator and wait for the roar.

Hess & Eisenhardt made just 2,100 of these Jaguar convertibles before the UK factory finally came up with their own, less sleek version. That rarity alone means you’re likely to attract just the right sort of attention when you park it outside the Dorchester on Park Lane in London. And it makes the price being asked by supercar specialists FS Automóveis of Lisbon all the more reasonable. Our advice: take a flight to Portugal, produce £32,335 and drive away your Jaguar convertible at the start of a memorable journey home. We’ll cadge a lift, if you don’t mind.

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