Jason Barlow24 June 2014

Official: Jaguar to build Project 7

Fancy owning one of the fastest and most powerful Jags ever? Only 250 will be made…

Jaguar’s SVO skunkworks is officially up and running, and as statements of intent go, the nutty Project 7 will do nicely for starters. How does a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds, an 186mph top speed, and a resounding 567bhp grab you? All wrapped up in a roadster body that worships at the altar of the mighty D-type?

Project 7 is officially one of the fastest and most powerful Jaguars ever, but more than that, it suggests that Jag is deadly serious about its plans to create instantly collectable limited edition specials. We’ll see the XE saloon in a few months’ time, which is set to double the size of Jaguar’s business. But, backed by a brand new 20,000sq m ‘remote facility’ set-up at an as-yet undisclosed location, SVO’s team will be up to all sorts around the edges. Think AMG or BMW’s M division, but with a healthy dose of inspired British lunacy.

Project 7 takes its cue from last year’s Goodwood FOS special, a car that generated sufficient heat for Jaguar to give it the green light. Final demand is still being evaluated but the company says that ‘up to 250 cars’ will be made. ‘And if 500 people decide they want one, then we’ll have 250 unhappy customers to deal with,’ SVO boss John Edwards admits. Expect the car to cost around £135,000.

If you thought the F-type V8 S was a bit of a monster – we do – then Project 7 raises the stakes even higher. As well as that whopping great power output, the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is good for ‘a minimum of 500 lb ft’ of torque, while a proliferation of carbon fibre bits – splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser, and rear spoiler – help reduce its weight by 80kg to 1585kg. Its reworked body and aero package gives it 177 per cent more downforce than the convertible.

Carbon ceramic brakes are standard, obviously, but 7 gets an overhauled suspension set-up – there are revised knuckles for more negative camber, tweaked top mounts, and new front and rear anti-roll bars. Spring rates and damper settings are also unique to this car, and Jaguar claims that it’s 50 per cent stiffer at the front, for greater agility.

‘Project 7 has been designed and developed for a very discerning audience,’ engineering boss and ex-Williams man and Jag CX-75 project leader Paul Newsome says. ‘It’s edgy, specialised and rewarding for the keen driver. It’s a car that has spent half of its development on the race track, the other half on the road.’ Needless to say, it’s done its fair share of Nürburgring laps, but Jag is yet to confirm a time. Maybe we should start a sweepstake…

Project 7 will be available in five colours: black, white, green, red and blue, all with the Ecurie Ecosse D-type-referencing nose stripe. As well as the rear fairing, the 7’s windscreen has been chopped by 114mm, reducing the car’s overall height by 30.5mm. It gets new side windows, and a Bimini roof clips onto the header rail to give the car some semblance of all-weather useability. Inside, the seats get a quilted, competition-style quilted diamond effect, and there are bespoke milled aluminium gearshift paddles and treadplates with the Project 7 logo. A four-point racing harness is available as an accessory.

‘I love this thing,’ Jaguar design director Ian Callum told TopGear.com. ‘It has a rebellious spirit. But I also love what it signifies, for Jaguar as a company. We actually did it, and there wasn’t even that much debate about it. That speaks volumes. We live in a commodity-driven world, and people will happily spend £500,000 on a watch. So what they’re really looking for is something that gives them a real sense of identity and specialness.

‘As a designer, it’s incredibly appealing. Because when you’re talking about something like this, you’re not just talking about a car, you’re talking about an art form.’

Project 7 goes into production next Spring. Move fast, rich people, move fast…

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