With seven Le Mans endurance race wins under their belts, Jaguar has decided to shout about their success in serious style with this one-off, all-aluminium, 550bhp Project 7. Based on the recently launched F-Type coupe, the Project 7 is a homage to the Le Mans winning cars of old in some styling elements, but also a nod to the future of special materials and brutal horsepower.
Jaguar has won the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race seven times over nearly 40 years, starting in 1951 in a C-type driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead, then 1953, C-type, Tony Rolt, Duncan Hamilton; 1955, D-type, Mike Hawthorn, Ivor Bueb; 1956, D-type Ron Flockhart, Ninian Sanderson; 1957, D-type, Ron Flockhart, Ivor Bueb, and in the modern era in 1988 with the XJR-9LM driven by Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace, and finally in 1990 in the XJR-12 driven by John Nielsen, Price Cobb and Martin Brundle.
A decent haul indeed, but does the Project 7 signal Le Mans intent for the future? Well, Porsche are back in it for next year, so maybe that’ll tempt the roaring Jaguars back to the famously gruelling Circuit de la Sarth in central France.
But, for now, the Le Mans styling of old and new is bestowed upon the Project 7 only; a one-off, 2-seater-style stunner that’s made for the road.
From the old we see that D-type-esque rear fairing just behind the driver’s head, while that bright blue paintwork is inspired by the victorious Jaguar D-types of Le Mans 1956 and 1957. After those lovely little heritage hat-tips, however, we fast-forward right into the modern age of the fastest Jags with supercharged V8 power and plenty of carbon fibre.
The bespoke carbon fibre components include a new front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser, while impractical yet edgy – and making the colour-matched crash helmet entirely necessary – is an old school-style lowered windshield. With the restyled front bumper and special 20-inch Blade forged-alloy wheels with carbon-fibre inserts, and a carbon fibre, race-inspired rear spoiler, the Project 7 is as aggressive as it is exclusive.
Project 7’s handmade interior features a composite single-seat – finished in a quilted racing-style diamond pattern – with a 4-point racing harness, a helmet holder and plenty of custom trim to lift the F-Type’s ‘standard’ interior. There is space for a passenger seat – if you remove the helmet holder – and, like the exterior, there is plenty of glossy carbon fibre on the console and dash.
The top of the range F-Type comes equipped with a 550bhp, supercharged, V8 petrol motor, and Jaguar’s most potent powerplant has made its way into the Project 7, too. In a car where lightness was made king, the full 680Nm grunt of the V8 is put to impressive use, with 60mph long gone on in just 4.1 seconds, and there’s a full 186mph at the top. Again, the helmet will be critical here.
Of course, such an attractive big cat needs its very own shiver-inducing growl, and the Jag engineers have built her a special exhaust which is likely to be about as quiet as a block of flats falling over. Hear it for yourself at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this Friday through Sunday as Mike Cross, one of Jag’s top engineering chaps takes the stunning 7 up the famous hillclimb track.
By Dan Anslow