The Project 7 idea was born about 18 months ago, from the pen of a young JLR designer, Cesar Pieri, in the group’s Whitley design studio. The sketches caught the eye of design boss Ian Callum, who gave them the go-ahead because he already knew that the company was looking for a car to wow the crowds at Goodwood 2013 – which the original Project 7 subsequently did in the hands of Jaguar engineer and master wheelman Mike Cross.
The enthusiastic reaction to the car, not least from potential buyers, convinced Edwards and Co that Project 7 would make an ideal flagship for its new division.
Essentially, the car is an F-type roadster relieved of its heavy hood mechanism and fitted with lightweight seats that carve a cool 80kg off the kerb weight and leave it at a respectable 1585kg.
Compared with the regular roadster, Project 7 has a new front bumper and splitter, a cut-down windscreen, a prominent fairing (incorporating a rollover bar) behind the driver’s head, new side skirts and diffuser and a deck-mounted wing.
The interior is obviously F-type, but there are all-new carbonfibre-backed quilted seats, the steering wheel is Alcantara-covered and some clever colour highlights give the car a character of its own. Each example gets a uniquely numbered plaque located between the seats and signed by Ian Callum.
The engine is an improved version of Jaguar’s familiar supercharged 5.0-litre V8. Peak power is 567bhp, available at 6500rpm, and peak torque is 502lb ft from 2500-5500rpm.
Power flows to the driven 20-inch rear wheels (and their optional fat Continental ContiForceContact tyres) first through a specially modified version of ZF’s eight-speed automatic gearbox (controlled, as in all Jaguars, by shift paddles) and then to a rear-mounted electronic limited-slip differential.
Project 7’s switchable exhaust (silenced or straight-through) has four matt-painted tailpipes, ceramic-coated so that they don’t set fire to the nearby diffuser.
The chassis gets special, SVO-manufactured front suspension uprights to increase negative camber, plus modifications to the front top mounts and fatter anti-roll bars front and rear. The whole system is height adjustable at both ends, and Project 7 now has spring and damper rates tailored to its special duties. The usual adaptive dynamics control the body very well, engineers say.
The brakes consist of carbon-ceramic rotors – 398mm in diameter at the front and 380mm behind – with six-piston and four-piston calipers respectively. These are usually offered as an option on regular V8s, but Project 7 gets them as standard.
Electronic co-operation between these, the electronic diff and the car’s built-in stability control provides helpful brake-controlled torque vectoring (to optimise traction and turn-in) and increases steering feel, engineers say. Compared with a standard F-type V8, drivers should expect firmer damping, more steering weight, faster gearchanges and quicker throttle response.
As a result of its extensive aero modifications, the production Project 7 develops 177 per cent more downforce at top speed than a standard F-type convertible. In production, the car is now a proper two-seater (it was originally proposed as transport for one) and there is even a temporary fabric roof that clips to the convertible’s header rail and can be stowed in the car’s notably shallow luggage compartment of about 200 litres’ capacity.