JUNE began with Jaguar Land Rover announcing that it was launching a Special Operations Division that would be tasked with developing, in the words of the company’s John Edwards: “a suite of products and services that enable our most discerning and enthusiastic customers to indulge their passion for our cars”. And as the month draws to an end, the first Special Operations vehicle is already set to make its debut.
Living up to the new division’s brief, the F-Type Project 7 is the fastest, most powerful, and one of the most exclusive vehicles in the company’s history. Only 250 examples are scheduled to be hand built and the first one will be taking on the Hill Climb at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed by way of a formal, global introduction.
Based on the current F-Type sports coupé and inspired by the Project 7 concept that Jaguar unveiled in 2013, the car was created to highlight the company’s seven Le Mans wins (hence the 7 in its nameplate) and to pay homage to the legendary Jaguar D Type, which turns 60 in 2014.
And the nods in the general direction of that epic car are clear to see with just a cursory glance. The F-Type Project 7 is open top (it comes with a detachable roof panel that is stored in the rear) and has a shortened front windshield. But the biggest design cue is the fairing bulge that rises up behind the driver’s head then tapers back into the car’s hindquarters.
And, like the D-Type, the Project 7 makes the most of lightweight aluminium in its construction, but 60 years on, it is also able to take advantage of carbon fibre, a material that wasn’t readily available when Jaguar was at the height of its racing prowess.
Under the hood, the car has the same supercharged 5-liter V8 block as the standard “hot” F-Type, although thanks to some serious massaging, tinkering and engineering know-how, it now produces some 575PS and 680Nm of torque. The result is a 0 to 100kph time of 3.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 300kph.
But the car is no drag racer. Thanks to an electric active differential, carbon ceramic matrix brakes and something called Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVbB), which controls the amount of power going to individual wheels as the car reaches the apex of a bend, this car will be just as fast and precise in the corners and when the conditions get challenging it will be in a straight line.
Perhaps best of all, though, is that despite its stripped back, track focused look, the car is completely street legal and even offers 196 litres of stowage space.
The car will be available in a choice of five colours and each of the 250 examples will carry a serial number plaque in the cabin signed by Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design.
The first deliveries are expected to begin in 2015.
For more on the Goodwood Festival of Speed, see grrc.goodwood.com/section/festival-of-speed/. — AFP
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 27, 2014.
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