If you’re into Jaguar history, the very mention of the name D-Type will likely send a few little hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention.
This was Jaguar’s legendary race car from the ’50s, a car that snatched victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race in France no fewer than three times.
The D-Type also featured arguably the sexiest, most voluptuous body ever created with that fantastic, shark-like fin behind the driver’s head to improve high-speed stability.
This year just happens to be the D-Type’s 60th anniversary and to mark the occasion, Jaguar has announced that it’s going to build a limited run of the D-Type-inspired F-Type Project 7 concept car it unveiled last year.
Jaguar says that this will be the fastest, most-powerful production Jag ever built when it goes into production in mid-2015. Just 250 will be offered globally, and while no firm price is being quoted, U.S. versions will likely sticker for around $160,000.
The Project 7 is also important in that it’s the first Jaguar performance model to be developed by the newly-created Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations division. In the future, look for lots of tuned and bespoke Jaguar and Range Rover models with price tags to match.
As for the Project 7, it’s essentially a street-legal race car based on Jaguar’s highly-acclaimed F-Type roadster. Powered by a tuned version of the F-Type’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8 delivering an impressive 575 horsepower, it should be good for 0-to-60mph sprints in just 3.8 seconds and a limited 186mph top speed.
And to enhance the F-Type’s handling even further, Project 7 comes with bespoke suspension pieces, torque vectoring by braking to sharpen the cornering, and massive Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes for race car-like stopping power.
The only missed opportunity is the decision to stick with the standard F-Type eight-speed automatic. It’s common knowledge that Jag is developing a manual gearbox for the F. To have introduced it first on the limited-edition Project 7 would have made the car even more special – and collectible.
But it’s the redesigned body that’s likely to get potential buyers reaching for their Platinum Amex cards.
Key design elements include a D-Type-inspired fairing behind the driver, an adjustable rear wing, a new front bumper and lots of downforce-increasing aerodynamic modifications, like a carbon-fiber front air splitter, side skirts, and rear diffuser. And those new 20-inch Storm alloys are just gorgeous.
Interestingly, U.S. versions of the car won’t feature the highly-desirable cut-down windshield – it’s 1.2 inches lowered than standard – which gives the Project 7 a real hunkered-down look. Federal safety regs mean that we’ll get the standard F-Type screen.
That could well affect the U.S. car’s status as a collector car and future investment. Down the road, U.S. Project 7s may not be as desirable as cars built for the rest of the world.
Never mind, this is a glorious special-edition Jaguar that’s guaranteed to be a true thrill ride – and a fitting tribute to the legendary D-Type.