As well as evoking the spirit of the Jaguar D-type and Jaguar’s Le Mans history, the Project 7 gives a further indication that Jaguar is preparing to launch an extreme version of the F-type.
The latest reports suggest that the new hardcore F-type will get at least 650bhp and, potentially, four-wheel drive.
The Project 7, named in homage to Jaguar’s seven Le Mans wins, is billed as a one-off design study created at the behest of design director Ian Callum. He said: “Project 7 has the kind of racing-inspired form that designers dream about.
"It has one purpose: to be driven fast and enjoyed. Jaguar sports cars are known for exceptional performance and clean design. Project 7 captures that spirit in its purest form.”
His vision has been backed by Jaguar’s engineering team, which has given the car a 542bhp version of Jaguar’s 5.0-litre supercharged engine, with 501lb ft of torque, as found in the Jaguar XJR and XKR-S. That’s 54bhp and 41lb ft more than the range-topping F-type V8 S.
It also sits 10mm lower than a standard F-type, has retuned springs and dampers and features a free-flow exhaust system with a ceramic finish. Jaguar claims a 0-60mph time of 4.1sec, a 50-75mph time of 2.4sec and a limited top speed of 186mph.
The Project 7 will be driven exclusively by Jaguar’s lead development driver, Mike Cross, throughout the Festival of Speed. He said: “Project 7 has given us the opportunity to go a little bit further. It is visceral in every sense — in its response, its sound and its sheer performance.”
Key exterior changes include a D-type-inspired fairing behind the driver’s head, a carbonfibre front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser, fixed rear wing, a lowered windscreen and a restyled front bumper.
The roof structure has been completely removed and a roll hoop installed. Inside, it has a single racing seat and harness, a helmet holder and a bespoke trim design. The blue paint scheme evokes the colour of the Jaguar D-types that won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1956 and 1957.
The Project 7 was created to win headlines for Jaguar at the Festival of Speed, which it regards as its home motor show and which attracts international interest on a par with other major motor shows. Although a Jaguar spokesman denied it, rumours have also persisted that Jaguar wanted to ensure that its F-type remained in the limelight at the festival, despite the headline event being the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s 911.
The creation of the Project 7 also signals Jaguar’s intention to create an F-type R-S GT to sit as the flagship model in its range. The project, which would most likely be based on the forthcoming F-type coupé, is said to have found favour in the wake of the cancellation of the Jaguar C-X75 hypercar programme, particularly as it feeds directly back into the promotion of a mainstream model in the company’s range.
The hot F-type is likely to reach production in 2015. It is expected to be powered by the same supercharged V8 as used in the Project 7 car, albeit in a higher state of tune.